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Old 05-01-2010, 04:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jun 2009
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Default Big Black - Racer X EP (1984)

1. Racer X
2. Shotgun
3. The Ugly American
4. Deep Six
5. Sleep!
6. The Big Payback

Steve Albini – guitar, drum programming
Jeff Pezzati – bass
Santiago Durango - guitar

Racer X is a natural step from the Bulldozer EP. Big Black seems to have found a good balance between the industrial machine-made beats and melodic semi-goth of Lungs and the pure rock action of Bulldozer. The band sounds comfortable for the first time on Racer X. The songs are more complex than ever with a melody thrown in occasionally and guitars being pressured to make music out of aggressive, repetitive strumming. In a way this is the band’s breakout album.

‘The Ugly American’ is a particular standout. It’s typical of what would eventually be called noise rock. Fast and full of noise (what else?) and it also focuses Albini’s rage-style vocals like a laser point on the scope of a sniper rifle. He sounds equally pissed off at the ones who accuse people of being Ugly Americans as he is at actual Ugly Americans.

‘Deep Six’ is the next song and it also stands out with its rockabilly sound. The band sounds no less than bouncy on this one; with a funky bass riff leading. Albini’s voice sounds a little bit like Dave Mustaine again here but there is also some wild high-pitched yelping to even things out. And, yes, the final song, ‘The Big Payback’, is a sort of version of James Brown’s song of the same name. For Big Black it’s funky but it sounds nothing like James Brown.

Overall, I feel a very 80s vibe on Racer X and even though Albini would probably rather make unclassifiable timeless music, he should be proud that this album is classic post-punk that happened incidentally. You can hear several 80s signatures on these songs. A little bit noisy punk, semi-industrial, and even a dash of metal.

If I was a member of the record buying public in 1984 who had been looking forward to the next release by Big Black, I would have fallen all over myself praising the Racer X EP to my fellow consumers. Today, I think all I need to say is: listen to it.

Deep Six
Like an arrow,
I was only passing through.
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