Monday, December 04, 2006

Best Live Album of the 1990s: Steve Albini/Zeni Geva's--All Right, You Little Bastards

'That song is for people who haven't bought a record in five-years.'
--Steve Albini, 1992
 
This is just a jaw-dropper, it just rocks that hard. If you've never seen Steve Albini live, you REALLY should. He's hilarious and the essence of what rock can and should have been. From his years with Big Black, Rapeman, and Shellac, he's the wild man from Chicago who simply refuses to compromise. It would take all 10,000 Ramones bands and their collective Civil War reenactment to equal just ONE Steve Albini, and that isn't even considering his skills as a recording engineer. While they're defunct nowadays, this and 'Total Castration' was the beginning of Zeni Geva's relationship with Steve, who recorded about four of their seminal albums. The song 'Godflesh' is an attack on Justin Broadrick at Steve's behest, as he apparently thought his style had been stolen by him (when Albini produced Head of David in 1987-88, on the final Big Black tours). I think it was a bit of a stretch, and Albini is always the kidder, if not known for being petty for kicks. None of this matters, only the music does.
On Zeni Geva: You just cannot maintain this kind of savagery forever, and they even lost a drummer to a nervous-breakdown once! This is noise metal at its best, done by the best. The most fun is to watch Godzilla movies with the sound off with Zeni Geva as the soundtrack. If they ever do another decent Godzilla movie, they have to enlist K.K. Null for the score. It would be pretty hilarious to have this guy rewrite 'Mothra'! I think he'd find it delicious. Nobody, and I mean nobody, can yell like K.K. Null, not even Godzilla, or even my dead Bohemian grandmother. Running through their first few albums, the set also includes a couple Albini/Big Black songs, and his cover of Kraftwerk's 'The Model.' The performances are devastating.

It all just kicks in that avant-garde way, it's high theater. Easily better than Nirvana, that other band Albini recorded. I saw Steve and Shellac just two-years after these gigs, and it was by-far the best I'll ever see. He had just finished arguing with Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain, in his wide-brimmed hat and geek-specs and a leather jacket that wore him, instead of the reverse--he recorded much-better stuff that lousy year of 1994. Anyway, that's what he looked like when I saw him, and it was a weird experience having him tip-his-hat to me. We made eye-contact, and both nodded. I was just in-awe, since he's the guy who wrote 'Kerosene', after all. It was a Shellac show in Muncie, Indiana, a place that's oddly close to Steve's heart--Big Black played there on their final tour in 1988, and the boots of the show are solid. Good luck finding "Alright You Little Bastards," it's worth shitloads on ebay (if you can find it at all). Maybe you can download it, and cheat another group of artists out of a living, but it's out-of-print anyway. Lost years, baby, lost years. If you love this music, check Hydrahead's (ISIS) catalog, it's closest to this quality and aesthetic.


Songs:


1. I Want You
2. New Flesh
3. Autobody
4. Godflesh
5. Guy Stick Bodie
6. A Piece of Angel
7. Kettle Lake (w. Steve Albini)
8. Painwise
9. Total Castration
10. Bigman
11. The Model (w. Steve Albini)
12. I Hate You