Henry Rollins

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Hot Animal Machine (1987) (1987), 8/10
Hard Volume (1989), 7.5/10
Life Time , 7.5/10
End Of Silence , 8/10
Weight , 7/10
Come In And Burn , 5/10
Get Some Go Again , 4/10
Nice , 5/10
Yellow Blues , 4/10

Black Flag vocalist Henry Rollins emerged during the second half of the 1980s as one of the leading voices of the hardcore generation. A force of nature, Rollins built an awe-inspiring opus on his visceral delivery, an excursion into intense vocal registers running the gamut from Iggy Stooge to Captain Beefheart. Introspection, the object of his manic quest, yielded the psychic hurricanes of Hot Animal Machine (1987), a milestone recording that turned the violence of hardcore inside (towards the inner life) rather than outside (society). The pathos owed quite a bit to guitarist Chris Haskett, who applied the eloquent styles of Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix to crafting a new dramatic art of guitar accompaniment. The steel framework of Life Time (1988) and the brutal coldness of the mini-album Hard Volume (1989) offered an infernal fresco of the human condition via an experimental sound that relied on jazz bass, psychedelic drums, atonal guitar and dynamic tempos. Despite his ego, the Rollins Band was a polycentric unit that was both tight and interactive, and the voice was certainly not the only protagonist of their psychodramas. Songs that appeared to be compact, massive units were actually composite, fragmented structures. This was particularly true on End Of Silence (1992), a grunge monolith and a titanic effort, that was both Rollins' supreme cry of desperation and a complex, multilateral stream of consciousness. The instruments had the alienating effect of isolating Rollins' grief, as it nobody was listening to him. A more streamlined and controlled approach on Weight (1993) melted and welded jazz passion and heavy-metal prowess, on top of Rollins' customary deliriums.
Full bio.
(Translation from the Italian by Nicole Zimmerman and proof-edited by Thomas Geist)

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Even before he was a musician and poet, Henry Rollins was a force of nature. His vision was one of profound pessimism on the condition of humanity. Just as disgusted on a personal level as on a social level, Rollins used his voice (and a maniacal accompaniment) to vent his frustration. His albums were disturbed storms from which no one escaped, least of all himself (the preferred object of his tirades). The brutal introspection of his songs and cleansing effect that he proposed was most rare in the history of rock. His ruminations (which quickly became just speaking, as if singing were a distraction) expressed the same pain found in the solos of Jimi Hendrix and in the monologues of Jim Morrison. Natural disaster, primordial force of nature, barometer of his generation, and artist greater than his own ego, Henry Rollins was one of the men who transformed rock music into a means of expressing the rage of an entire generation, having continued a tradition which began with the band Who.

In 1986, Black Flag disbanded and Henry Rollins was able to devote himself to poetry (written and recited).

Rollins was born in 1961 and raised in Washington by a dysfunctional family. Traumatized by a lonely adolescence, afflicted by complex sexual issues, he listened to skate-punk with his friend Ian McKaye but this store clerk would later find his true vocation at a Bad Brains concert in the summer of 1979. He moved to Los Angeles in 1981 after a brief but successful audition with Black Flag, but remained in the shadows of the group (not befriending any of them), accumulating sufficient psychotic tensions.

Hot Animal Machine (Texas Hotel, 1987) was the album that revealed his full artistic and moral stature; an album packed with delirious compositions, songs with animalistic tones and hallucinations somewhere between that of Iggy Stooge and Captain Beefheart.

The music (written in collaboration with guitarist Chris Haskett) was a rowdy, wild, shaggy type of rock and roll, propelled by an inexhaustible rhythm section as well as lively guitar (a little hard-core, a little reggae, a little funk) by Haskett. Black And White, with drum beating at breakneck speed and guitar screeching furiously, was an attempt at the rock and roll style of Led Zeppelin. Hot Animal Machine 1, with a storm of syncopated, staccato heavy-metal, was one of the most unrestrained exhibitions a rock musician could conceive of - irrational anger and concentrated beastly instincts.

These terrifying sounds, overflowing with deranged rhetoric, were never ending; they were always at the service of a cause: the triumph of the theatricality of character, especially that of an extremely violent paranoia. It was in these tracks that Rollins was able to freely vent. Followed Around was a slow, sinister blues, which brings to mind the ritualistic quality of Nick Cave, the psychotic circling of Wild Man Fisher, and the composure of Tom Waits. The more obsessive track, There's A Man Outside, was conducted in a frenetic voodoo-billy rhythm while Rollins goes wild like a werewolf. These tracks were the masterpieces of the album, and are among the masterpieces of modern punk-rock. Patti Smith and Iggy Stooge, two of the greatest "ham actors" of rock, taught Rollins how to create structured harmonics to serve as effective means of transmitting the emotions of the lyrics, for example in Lost And Found (a boogie-reggae rhythm ballad). Less original musically but just as genius and catastrophic in performance came the Southern boogie of Crazy Lover. It was the shadow of Janis Joplin that hung over his "blues" (at least in spirit), in the way that he recited lyrics using all of his physical and emotional resources, tearing his heart from his chest to produce the most devastating effect.

Recorded during the same session, the EP titled Drive By Shooting (accredited to Henrietta Collins & The Wifebeating Childhaters) was a minor work in contrast to the impressive drama of the previous album. The title-track was a strange novelty which took the form of "surf" style music and was dedicated to the gang wars in Los Angeles. The Rollins Band was the natural continuation of the complex sound that borrowed the pretentiousness of rap, the violence of heavy-metal, and the frenzy of hard-core. With Haskett on guitar and the rhythm section from Gone (Andrew Weiss on bass and Sim Cain on drums), the Rollins Band created their first album, Life Time (Texas Hotel, 1988), a strong framework. Rollins' recording was always roaring, hoarse, and awkward. It attacked without ceasing, while the instrumental raids were contained and ordered. The pandemonium of Hot Animal Machine was replaced by a more complex and experimental harmonic structure that often used a jazz bass, psychedelic drum, out-of-tune guitar, and changes in tempo.

The slow rhythms ended in a balance of sub-minimalist majesty and depression in Gun In Mouth Blues (the dramatic apex of his career, his The End), to give emphasis to what he said and how he said it. In Burned Beyond Recognition, his psychotic, perverted, demonic voice emitted course screams into the horrific atmosphere a' la Black Sabbath. It was this type of litany of errors purified by rhythms and slashing a' la Jimi Hendrix that created Lonely. The highly musical What Am I Doing Here used the intensity of a prolonged wail as an existential digression. In each case, the music of Rollins Band was measured by how effective it was as a counterpoint for the verbal and vocal adventures of Rollins. The voice of Rollins became the backbone and reason for being of the band's music. (It was not by chance then that Turned Out ends up as a rap, albeit with all the complications that Rollins and his group bring to it.)If You're Alive; This was one of the most potent tracks in Rollins' career. 1,000 Times Blind, was a perfect example of his verbose style. Wreck-age included some charged heavy-metal.

The interior of the songs on this album traced a picture of an infernal hell in his tormented, poetic universe which focused on alienation and disintegration of personality of which modern man is the victim.

The raw material of his soliloquy was clarified on the mini-album Hard Volume (1989) with a visceral blues in What Have I Got and with brutal rock and roll in Hard; tracks that, as usual, emanate rage and energy with some to spare. Once again, Rollins steals the show with a series of key performances, "noise" like that in I Feel Like This (a supersonic thrash) and Turned Inside Out (a slow grunge-industrial), not to mention the superhuman orgasm of Love.

Rollins, Haskett, Weiss and Cain were now friends (perhaps more now than when they were with Black Flag) and produced with ease their crude, shaggy, irritable sound, crowded with unresolved breaks and insane imbalances, loose harmonic nodes and dull, abandoned beats; a sound that was equivalent to barbed wire and pus. As though solid hard-rock were blown up by dynamite came Planet Joe. Their style was fundamentally polycentric, which hid the historic continuity with classic rock and its roots. The "voice" was not the only star of their sound adventure. No matter makes up the soul of the group, this album presented a massive, united front and a fragmented internal structure as opposed to a composite structure.

Do It was a testimony to the heat of the group when performing live, but added little to their repertoire. In Wartime with bassist Weiss on the EP Fast Food For Thought (Chrysalis), Rollins reached his maximum harmonic intensity, utilizing all the resources of the recording studio and dedicated the album to political themes.

If the first 2 albums (musically speaking) by Rollins were centered on the theme of urban alienation, End Of Silence (Imago, 1992) was centered on the theme of urban violence (a few months prior a friend of Rollins was killed by a gangster right in front of his eyes). The result was devastating; it was the cry of a man increasingly lonely who tried to deal with his pain by lashing out all the more, however conscious that no one was listening.

Rollins' accompaniment was now the perfect example of a power-trio (and a mix of Experience by Hendrix and Metallica). Command of dynamics, technique, and improv allowed the guitarist and rhythm section to invent imaginative and creative accompaniments. This was, primarily, why the tracks were longer (at least 5 of them were over 7 minutes). Rollins' singing was increasingly controversial: his exhibitions sometimes inspired the music, sometimes they chocked it. Be that as it may, Rollins invented a new genre: the "vocal-driven power-rock", in the sense that the music was not guided by guitar improvs but by the singing - everything else improvised according to that. The structure of the tracks were complicated and sophisticated, to the point that one can no longer speak of them as "tracks" but rather as fluid streams of sound. In Grip, the quartet attempted to casually alternate between explosive crescendos, heavy-metal rhythms, blues-rock riffs, pseudo-jazz passages, and acid-rock improvs. The main function of the musicians was to support this delicate structure and Haskett had the most relevant role on guitar as he continually remade Page and Hendrix (in particular, in the epic solo in Tearing, one of the most heavy and "metallic" moments of the album). The guitar of Hendrix (the anarchical glissandos and martial rhythms) was well suited for Rollins Band as Almost Real demonstrated. Haskett was now an exemplary guitarist and began to compete with the vocalist. The construction of the atmosphere of these long sound-vocal ruminations was as casual as it was convoluted: Obscene used a series of primitive tribal sounds, and ended with a pandemonium of groaning and dissonance. The emphasis was greater in What Do You Do, one of the more obsessive lullabies that made one think of King Crimson converted to heavy-metal. This grunge style was much less brutal than Hot Animal Machine. In the maniacal search for expressivity, Rollins sacrificed pure energy in favor of a neutral rock and "free-form", similar to sound tracks that must follow the action, rejecting a specific identity and configured as a succession of musical moments, utilizing varied techniques. Once again however, it was the "blues" which took the lead in Low Self Opinion, enhanced by the guitar and drum like early Led Zeppelin, and in Blues Jam, conducted with a very slow rhythm, dotted with psychedelic figures on guitar, rhythms of deafening blows by the bass and drum, and shouted with all the strength Rollins could muster. The third gem of the album, Just Like You, rose up from the hallucinogenic states of psychedelia with Freudian swooning in the chaos of free sounds, interrupted occasionally by large explosions of martial, emphatic, and syncopated hard-rock, and savage screams of: "Rage!". Not even Jim Morrison attempted so much as this.

In 1993, Weiss left the group and was replaced by the legendary Melvin Gibbs, already with Joe Bowie and Ronald Shannon Jackson.

Weight (Imago, 1993) normalized the full-bodied sound of the quartet, so much so that Liar scaled the charts. The epicenter of the album included the soul-rock of the 70's in Fool and the seismic funk-rock of Shine, filled with captivating rhythms, solid riffs, and vibrant solos. Rollins' withdraw no longer heavily influenced the music, which seemed to increasingly enjoy its own vitality. The verbose limits of rap were heard in both Disconnect and Divine Object Of Hatred, such that the singing struggled and dragged behind the music. The practice of moral self-flagellation ("I'm so tired of looking inside myself" murmured in the more subdued song Tired), the practice of imitating Greek prophets, had found a role in the area of mechanical sounds and was quite compelling. The new hero of the group was Haskett, who didn't miss a beat, moving between heavy-metal in Icon and Hendrix-style guitar in Step Back. The biggest limitation with this type of music was the total lack of humor.

Haskett also recorded a solo album, Language (213CD, 1995), an atmospheric album marked by a truly poetic guitar technique.

From upwards of 11 books and 8 "spoken" albums, Rollins can boast of a literariness with which Dylan could not compete.

Completely illiterate in music however, Rollins authored only the lyrics and riffs, rarely a melody, confirming that the true musical genius of Black Flag was Greg Ginn.

Prima ancora che essere un musicista o un poeta, Henry Rollins e` una forza della natura. La sua e` una visione profondamente pessimista della condizione umana. Disgustato tanto a livello sociale quanto a livello individuale, Rollins usa le tonsille (e un accompagnamento maniacale) per sfogare la sua frustrazione. I suoi dischi sono uragani psichici che non concedono scampo a nessuno, tanto meno a se stesso (oggetto preferito delle sue arringhe). L'introspezione brutale delle sue canzoni, e l'effetto catartico che si propongono e` piu` unica che rara nella storia del rock. Le sue ruminazioni (che presto diventeranno soltanto parlate, essendo il canto una mezza distrazione) esprimono lo stesso dolore che era negli assoli di Jimi Hendrix e nei monologhi di Jim Morrison.
Calamita` naturale del rock, forza primordiale della natura, barometro della sua generazione, artista piu` grande del proprio ego, Henry Rollins e` uno degli uomini che ha trasformato la musica rock in un veicolo per esprimere la rabbia di un'intera generazione, continuando una tradizione che era cominciata con gli Who.

Nel 1986 i Black Flag si sciolsero e Henry Rollins, pote` dedicarsi alla sua attivita` di poeta (scritto e recitato).

Rollins, nato nel 1961 e cresciuto a Washington in condizioni familiari terribili, traumatizzato da un'adolescenza solitaria, afflitto da complessi sessuali, skatepunk con Ian McKaye, commesso di negozio che scopri` la propria vocazione a un concerto dei Bad Brains nell'estate del 1979, trapiantato a Los Angeles nel 1981 dopo aver passato un provino con i Black Flag, rimasto sempre in ombra nel gruppo (non fece amicizia con nessuno di loro), aveva accumulato tensioni psichiche a sufficienza.

Hot Animal Machine (Texas Hotel, 1987) e` il lavoro che ne rivelo` appieno la statura artistica e morale, un album zeppo di composizioni deliranti, cantate con uno tono animalesco e allucinato a meta` strada fra Iggy Stooge e Captain Beefheart.

La musica (scritta in collaborazione con il chitarrista Chris Haskett) e` un rock and roll scalmanato, selvatico, ispido, propulso da una sezione ritmica inesauribile e vivacizzato dalla chitarra (ora hardcore ora reggae ora funky) di Haskett. Black And White, con la batteria che picchia a perdifiato e la chitarra che stride all'impazzata, una rincorsa rock and roll alla Led Zeppelin, o Hot Animal Machine 1, con la sua tempesta di staccato e sincopi heavymetal, sono fra le esibizioni piu` smodate che musicista rock possa concepire, parossismi irrazionali e, in ultimo, concentrati di puri istinti bestiali.

Quelle terrificanti barricate sonore, imbevute di retorica torrenziale e di squilibri sanguinari, non sono mai fini a se stesse, ma sempre al servizio della causa: altrove trionfa cosi` la teatralita` del personaggio, specializzato in una forma di paranoia estremamente violenta. E` in questi brani che Rollins puo` dar libero sfogo alle cento tumultuose anime della sua personalita`. Followed Around rallenta in un blues sinistro, la cui qualita` ritualistica ricorda Nick Cave, il cui girotondo psicotico ricorda Wild Man Fisher e la cui scompostezza sgolata ricorda Tom Waits. Ancor piu` ossessiva e` There's A Man Outside, condotta a un forsennato ritmo voodoobilly mentre Rollins delira nel registro piu` licantropo. Sono questi i capolavori del disco, e fra i capolavori del punkrock moderno.
Patti Smith e Iggy Stooge, cosi` come tutti i grandi istrioni del rock, hanno insegnato a Rollins come costruire strutture armoniche che costituiscano veicoli efficaci per trasmettere le emozioni delle liriche; per esempio in Lost And Found, ballata a ritmo boogie-reggae. Meno originale come musiche, ma altrettanto geniale e catastrofico come interprete, risulta nel boogie sudista di Crazy Lover. Ma e` soprattutto lo spettro di Janis Joplin ad aleggiare sul suo "blues" (nello spirito, se non nella lettera), quel modo di recitarlo usando tutte le risorse fisiche ed emotive, fino a strapparsi il cuore dal petto pur di produrre l'effetto piu` devastante.

Registrato durante le stesse session del 1986, l'EP Drive By Shooting, accreditato a Henrietta Collins & The Wifebeating Childheaters e` un'operina minore che contrasta con la imponente drammaticita` dell'album precedente. La title-track e` una strana novelty in formato surf dedicata alla guerra delle gang di Los Angeles.

La Rollins Band e` la naturale continuazione di quel sound complesso, che mutua la spavalderia del rap, la violenza dell'heavy metal, la frenesia dell'hardcore. Haskett alla chitarra e la sezione ritmica dei Gone (Andrew Weiss al basso e Sim Cain alla batteria) forniscono al loro primo album, Life Time (Texas Hotel, 1988), un'impalcatura d'acciaio. Tant'e` che Rollins non ha bisogno di strafare. Il registro di Rollins e` sempre quel ruggito rauco e sgraziato che aggredisce senza sosta l'ascoltatore, ma le scorribande strumentali sono contenute e ordinate. I pandemoni di Hot Animal Machine sono rimpiazzati da strutture armoniche piu` complesse e sperimentali, che spesso impiegano un basso jazz, una batteria psichedelica, scordature di chitarra, cambi di tempo.

Le cadenze rallentano fino alla stasi sub-minimalista del maestoso e depresso Gun In Mouth Blues (apice drammatico della sua carriera, la sua The End), per dare sempre maggior risalto a cio` che dice e a come lo dice. In Burned Beyond Recognition la sua voce psicotica, perversa, demoniaca non fa che emettere urla sguaiate in un'atmosfera orrifica alla Black Sabbath. E questo genere di litania dell'orrore si sublima con cadenze e fendenti alla Jimi Hendrix in Lonely. La piu` musicale What Am I Doing Here sfrutta l'intensita` di quel gemito prolungato per una digressione esistenziale. In ogni caso la musica della Rollins Band si misura su quanto efficacemente contrappunta le avventure verbali e vocali del leader. La voce di Rollins e` diventata la struttura portante e la ragion d'essere stessa della sua musica. (Non a caso Turned Out approda al rap, sia pur con tutte le complicazioni che Rollins e il suo branco di scalmanati possono apportarvi).

La tensione catastrofica del primo album rivive almeno in una epilessi da slam dance, If You're Alive, uno dei brani piu` potenti della sua carriera, in 1,000 Times Blind, esemplare del suo stile verboso, e in Wreck-age, che annovera qualche "carica" heavymetal.

Nell'insieme le canzoni di questo disco tracciano un affresco infernale del suo tormentato universo poetico, focalizzato sull'alienazione e sulla disintegrazione della personalita` di cui e` vittima l'uomo moderno.

Quale sia la materia prima del suo soliloquio e` meglio chiarito sul mini-album Hard Volume del 1989 dal blues viscerale di What Have I Got e dal brutale rock and roll di Hard, brani che, al solito, sprigionano rabbia ed energia da vendere. Ancora una volta Rollins ruba lo show con una serie di performance maiuscole, "chiassate" come I Feel Like This (su un thrash supersonico) e Turned Inside Out (su un lento "grunge-industriale"), per non parlare dell'orgasmo superominico di Love.

Il quartetto di Rollins, Haskett, Weiss e Cain e` piu` affiatato (forse piu` di quanto lo siano mai stati i Black Flag) e produce con naturalezza quel sound crudo, ispido, spigoloso, gremito di fratture irrisolte e di squilibri insanati, di nodi armonici non sciolti e di colpi sordi abbandonati a se stessi; un sound che e` il corrispettivo di filo spinato e di pus. Basti sentire come viene dinamitato scientificamente l'hardrock granitico di Planet Joe. Il loro e` uno stile fondamentalmente policentrico, che nasconde una continuita` storica con il rock classico e le sue radici. La "voce" non e` insomma l'unica protagonista di queste avventure sonore. Quale che ne sia l'anima, questi dischi presentano comunque un fronte compatto, unitario, massiccio, e invece una struttura interna composita, frammentaria.

Do It testimonia la foga del complesso dal vivo, ma aggiunge poco al repertorio. Nei Wartime, con il bassista Weiss, sull'EP Fast Food For Thought (Chrysalis), Rollins raggiunge il massimo di intensita` armonica, utilizzando tutte le risorse dello studio di registrazione e dedicando il risultato a temi politici.

Se i primi due dischi (musicali) di Rollins erano centrati sul tema dell'alienazione urbana, End Of Silence (Imago, 1992) sposta la mira sulla violenza urbana (pochi mesi prima un amico di Rollins era stato ucciso da gangster sotto i suoi occhi). Il risultato ha qualcosa di titanico, e` l'urlo di un uomo sempre piu` solo che tenta di placare il proprio dolore inveendo sempre piu` forte, ma conscio che nessuno lo ascolta.
Il complesso di accompagnamento e` ormai un perfetto esempio di power-trio (e un incrocio fra l'Experience di Hendrix e i Metallica). Padronanza di dinamica, di tecnica e di improvvisazione consentono al chitarrista e alla sezione ritmica di inventare accompagnamenti fantasiosi e creativi. E questa e` la ragione principale per cui i brani si allungano (ben cinque superano i sette minuti). Il cantante e` invece sempre piu` controverso: le sue esibizioni talvolta galvanizzano la musica, talaltra la soffocano. Sia come sia, Rollins ha inventato un nuovo genere: il "vocal-driven power-rock"; nel senso che la musica e` guidata non dalle improvvisazioni della chitarra, ma da quelle del canto, e tutti gli altri (chitarra compresa) improvvisano di conseguenza.
La struttura dei brani si e` ulteriormente complicata e sofisticata, al punto che non si puo` piu` parlare di "brani", ma di flussi di suono. In Grip il quartetto riesce ad alternare con disinvoltura crescendo esplosivi, cadenze heavymetal, riff di bluesrock, passaggi pseudo-jazz, improvvisazioni acid-rock.
Le trovate degli accompagnatori sono fondamentali per tenere in piedi la delicata struttura, e Haskett ha la parte piu` rilevante, con il suo chitarrismo che rifa` il verso in continuazione a Page e Hendrix (in particolare nell'assolo epico di Tearing, uno dei momenti piu` pesanti e "metallici" del disco). Il chitarrismo di Hendrix (i glissando anarchici e le cadenze marziali) si presta particolarmente bene alla bisogna, come dimostrato nello sviluppo di Almost Real. Haskett e` ormai un classico dello strumento e comincia a far concorrenza al cantante.
La costruzione delle atmosfere di queste lunghe elucubrazioni sonoro-vocali e` tanto casuale quanto arzigogolata: Obscene si avvale di una serie di tribalismi primitivi e termina in un pandemonio di gemiti e dissonanze; l'enfasi accumulata da What Do You Do, una delle nenie piu` ossessive, fa pensare a dei King Crimson convertiti all'heavymetal.
Questo "kolossal" del grunge e` molto meno brutale di Hot Animal Machine. Nella sua maniacale ricerca di espressivita` Rollins ha sacrificato l'energia pura a favore di un rock neutro e "free-form", analogamente alle colonne sonore che, dovendo seguire l'azione, rifiutano un'identita` precisa e si configurano invece come successione di momenti musicali, utilizzando i linguaggi piu` svariati.
Ancora una volta e` il blues a farla da padrone, tanto nella variegata Low Self Opinion, vivacizzato e potenziato dalla chitarra e dalla batteria come nei primi Led Zeppelin, quanto nella sterminata Blues Jam, condotta a ritmo lentissimo, costellata di figure psichedeliche di chitarra, cadenzata da fendenti assordanti di batteria e basso, e urlata al vento con quanta forza Rollins puo` raccogliere. Il terzo polo del disco, Just Like You, si immerge negli stati allucinati della psichedelia con un deliquio freudiano in un marasma di suoni "liberi", interrotto ogni tanto da smisurate detonazioni di hardrock, marziali, enfatiche e sincopate, e dall'urlo disumano di: "Rage!". Neppure Jim Morrison aveva mai tentato tanto.

Nel 1993 Weiss lascia il gruppo, sostituito dal leggendario Melvin Gibbs, gia` con Joe Bowie e Ronald Shannon Jackson.

Weight (Imago, 1993) normalizza ulteriormente il sound corposo del quartetto, tant'e` che Liar scala persino le classifiche. L'epicentro del disco e` compreso fra il soul-rock degli anni '70 di Fool e il sismico funkrock di Shine, imbottiti di ritmiche trascinanti, di riff granitici, di vibranti assoli. Il delirium tremens di Rollins non influenza piu` di tanto la musica, che sembra sempre piu` godere di una vitalita` propria. La verbosita` al limite del rap di Disconnect e Divine Object Of Hatred, quel modo di cantare "arrancando" e trascinandosi dietro a fatica la musica, quello stile di auto-flagellazione morale ("I'm so tired of looking inside myself" mormora nella canzone piu` dimessa, Tired), quel vizio di voler imitare i profeti folli dei classici greci, ha trovato un suo ruolo nell'ambito di una macchina del suono piu` generale e, tutto sommato, avvincente. Il nuovo eroe del gruppo e` anzi Haskett, che non sbaglia un colpo, caracollando fra l'heavymetal di Icon e l'"hendrixiana" di Step Back. Il limite maggiore di questo genere di musica e` la totale mancanza di senso dello humour.

Haskett registra anche un album solista, Language (213CD, 1995), un disco atmosferico all'insegna di una tecnica chitarristica leggera e poetica.

Dall'alto di undici libri e otto album di "spoken word", Rollins puo` vantare una letterarieta` con cui neppure Dylan puo` competere.

Completamente analfabeta della musica, Rollins e` autore soltanto delle liriche e dei riff, raramente delle melodie; a conferma che la vera intelligenza dei Black Flag fu sempre Greg Ginn.

Fronting a taut quintet that features Melvin Gibbs on bass, Rollins has the time of his life on Come In And Burn (Dreamworks, 1997). He can pretty much sing anything and the band will turn it into a song. But the album is another psychoanalysis of the leader, and this time it is not him, it is the listener, who is entitled to get tired of it. On My Way To The Cage is as accessible as his music has ever been, while During a City and The End of Something boast the most powerful scores.

The books and spoken-work records (often taken from the books) keep coming (not to mention his new career as an actor), notably the double-disc Everything (Thirsty Ear, 1996) with Rashied Ali on drums and Charles Gayle on sax that introduced Rollins to the jazz community.

Rollins' first musical album in a while, Get Some Go Again (Dreamworks, 2000), is a big disappointment. The new Rollins Band (a completely revised line-up) is a pathetic imitation of the original one. Get Some Go Again, Monster and the 15-minute sermon L.A. Money Train merely replay stereotypes of arena-rock and indulge in the most reused riffs in rock music. The good news is that Rollins' ego is not dominant as it used to be, but now it almost sounds like it was that very sprawling, uncontrollable ego to account for the music. At best, the album is a tribute to Rollin's hard-rock idols of the 1970s. At worst, it is a forgettable gesture by an aging punk afflicted with precocious dementia.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Matthias Stepancich)

Fronteggiando un quintetto in gran forma che comprende Melvin Gibbs al basso, Rollins si diverte un mondo su Come In And Burn (Dreamworks, 1997). Puo' cantare praticamente qualsiasi cosa, e la band la trasformera' in una canzone. Ma l'album e' un'altra psicoanalisi del leader, e stavolta non e' lui, ma l'ascoltatore, ad essere autorizzato a stancarsene. On My Way To The Cage e' quanto di piu' accessibile sia mai stata la sua musica, mentre During a City e The End of Something vantano le graffiate piu' potenti.

I libri e i dischi spoken-word (spesso presi dai libri) continuano ad arrivare (senza menzionare la sua nuova carriera come attore), particolarmente l'album doppio Everything (Thirsty Ear, 1996), con Rashied Ali alla batteria e Charles Gayle al sax, che introdusse Rollins alla comunita' jazz.

Il primo album musicale di Rollins da un po' di tempo a questa parte, Get Some Go Again (Dreamworks, 2000), e' una grossa delusione. La nuova Rollins Band (una line-up completamente cambiata) e' una patetica imitazione di quella originale. Get Some Go Again, Monster e il sermone lungo 15 minuti di L.A. Money Train replicano semplicemente degli stereotipi dell'arena-rock, e indulgono nei riff piu' riciclati della musica rock. La buona notizia e' che l'ego di Rollins non e' dominante come una volta, ma ora sembra quasi che fosse quello stesso irregolare, incontrollabile ego a giustificare la musica. Al meglio, l'album e' un tributo di Rollins ai suoi idoli hard-rock dei 1970s. Al peggio, e' un trascurabile gesto compiuto da un punk che sta invecchiando, afflitto da demenza precoce.

Rock icons often follow this path to decadence: the less they have to say, the more albums they release. After embracing hard-rock on Get Some Go Again, Rollings gets serious about it on Nice (Sanctuary, 2001). He surrounds himself with guitarist Jim Wilson, bassist Marcus Blake and drummer Jim Mackenroth, that could as well be Thin Lizzy or Nazareth in disguise. One Shot, What's the Matter Man and Gone Inside the Zero sound as retro` as a punk can sound. The band even mimicks Black Sabbath in Going Out Strange. They briefly flirt with funk-metal in Up For It and I Want So Much More (bringing in organ, horns and female backup singers) and take a break with some midtempo rhythm and blues numbers (Hello, Let That Devil Out, Hangin Around). The album is rounded up by the live staple Your Number Is One and the oddly intriguing We Walk Alone (slide guitar and tribal drums).

Yellow Blues (Sanctuary, 2001) is a collection of leftovers from Get Some Go Again and it is not any worse than the official album (not a compliment to the official album). Yellow Blues, Summer Nights, Frozen Man, 100 Miles are interchangeable with the best songs on Get Some Go Again. A couple of psychodramas (the ten-minute Hold On and Hell's Lounge Band Unwinds) and a couple of chaotic, dissonant interludes (Don't Let This Be, Coma) almost make it more interesting than the official album.

A Clockwork Orange Stage (Sanctuary, 2001) is a live 2000 performance.

Jason Mackenroth died in 2016.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Alessandro Isopo)

Quando le icone del rock si avviano verso la decadenza mostrano spesso il pessimo difetto di avere una produttività inversamente proporzionale alla qualità (meno hanno da dire, più producono). Dopo aver abbracciato l'hard-rock su Get Some Go Again, con Nice (Sanctuary, 2001) Rollins sembra deciso a fare le cose sul serio e si circonda del chitarrista Jim Wilson, del bassista Marcus Blake e del batterista Jim Mackenroth, che potrebbero pure essere Thin Lizzy o Nazareth travestiti. One Shot, What's the Matter Man e Gone Inside the Zero sono anacronistiche almeno quanto può esserlo un punk. Il gruppo si mette a scimmiottare perfino i Black Sabbath in Going Out Strange. Dopo un fugace ammiccamento al funk-metal in Up For It e I Want So Much More (scomodando organo, fiati e voci femminili) si concedono una pausa con qualche numero di rhythm & blues in mid-tempo (Hello, Let That Devil Out, Hangin Around). L'album è coronato dal numero live di Your Number Is One e dalla sinistra We Walk Alone (chitarra slide e percussioni tribali).

Yellow Blues (Sanctuary, 2001) è una raccolta di scarti dell'album Get Some Go Again, e non è affatto peggiore dell'album ufficiale (non è un complimento per quest'ultimo). Yellow Blues, Summer Nights, Frozen Man, 100 Miles sono intercambiabili coi migliori brani di Get Some Go Again. Anzi un paio di psicodrammi(i dieci minuti di Hold On e Hell's Lounge Band Unwinds)e di interludi caotici e dissonanti (Don't Let This Be, Coma)lo rendono quasi più interessante.

A Clockwork Orange Stage (Sanctuary, 2001) è una esibizione live del 2000.

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