Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Twitch [Sire, 1986] B-
  • The Land of Rape and Honey [Sire, 1988] B+
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste [Sire, 1989] B+
  • In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up (Live) [Sire, 1990] A-
  • Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs [Sire/Warner Bros., 1992] A-
  • Filth Pig [Warner Bros., 1996] C

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Twitch [Sire, 1986]
Chicago's Anglodisco clones meet Anglodisco renegade Adrian Sherwood and promptly improve themselves by trading in wimpy on arty. Fleetingly gothic, marginally industrial, unrelenting in a vaguely threatening way, they shout "The world is ending" on a crowded dancefloor. No one panics, but some do drift off--they're getting a little bored. B-

The Land of Rape and Honey [Sire, 1988]
Alain Jourgenson is said to hate Steve Albini, and why not, but I still think Big Black changed his life. Whomp whomp whomp whomp, these huge ugly slabs of beat are like the metal of dreams, all urban din and therapeutic brain damage, only done with synthesizers. Though I wish I knew what they were bellowing about down in the abyss, this will tone up your innards a lot more efficiently than whatever's hep in garage grunge these days. And you can dance to it--supposedly. B+

A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste [Sire, 1989]
Industrial's edge on metal is anonymity--unlike major-brand sonic barrage, it presents itself as resultant rather than expression, music/noise emanating from a society/culture. It's objective; it doesn't imply a subject. This illusion boosts the music/noise's impact and authority while rendering it virtually indistinguishable from itself (as well as difficult to access from what's human/humanist in our aesthetic sense). The bestselling Chicago version gets faster and purer with every release. Even when Alain Jourgenson raps, or apes (hires?) John Lydon, I could give a fuck who he is or what he thinks. Which is essential to the intended sensation. B+

In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up (Live) [Sire, 1990]
For fanatics and curiosity seekers, a 40-minute "mini" showcasing these professional anarchists' six most gripping, ripping songs. If you can't vote yet you're still too old for their brains-to-the-wall barrage--it vents aggressions so immature they're barely articulate, triggered by the political frustration that makes voting so meaningless these days. But once you regain consciousness it'll leave you humming, in a fragmented kind of way. You like your rock hard, right? So why the hell aren't you curious? A-

Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs [Sire/Warner Bros., 1992]
Like the good orthodox category-haters you'd figure, these perverts claim they're not industrial, which is true only in the sense that Led Zeppelin wasn't metal: they may be too good for the category, but that doesn't mean they're not of it. And like Led Zep, they're cold bastards who are worth your time even if you think you don't like what they do, which is toning up your cardiovascular system by running you over with a tank. Their rockism is checked somewhat this time by a meticulousness that may put off casual sympathizers, but from synth-ooze to caterwaul, the care they put into their din connects as an aural wit that complements and undercuts their over-the-top doom-mongering. You don't laugh with them and you don't laugh at them--you just throw back your head in glee at the unlikely fact that they exist. A-

Filth Pig [Warner Bros., 1996]
As a joke about disco and a joke about heavy, Al Jourgenson's dance-industrial had some wit to it. Here the motherfucker realizes that metalheads will throw money at you long after your hip cachet has gone the way of your hard-on. Result, not counting the funnier-than-shit "Lay Lady Lay": a grindcore album worth hating. C

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