Saturday, March 24, 2012

Reconsider T

May 2003 – Middle of a month-long tour. Sitting in a venue in Little Rock, Arkansas. Supposedly a record store, but there's only a few dozen actual albums. Stage in the back. Two dudes selling PBR from a cooler behind the counter. Waiting for the fans that won't show up. To pass the time these guys are playing late 80s/early 90s speed metal promo video after late 80s/early 90s speed metal promo video on a VHS player that's seen better days. Most are forgettable, the sort of thing whose absurdity was laid bare in almost-equally un-memorable vehicles like The Decline Of Western Civilization 2. A succession of cowboy-booted hair farmers talking about how original their sound is and how inevitable their success will be. People that I never heard of before or since. But in the middle of it, Ice T. Ice T and Body Count. Little of that is even memorable, though there was a line, something to the effect of “see, a song like 'KKK Bitch' is deep 'cuz it's about racism and shit.” I ponder the absurdity of it all. Of Ice T, speaking through the years and the grainy video tape. Of the degree of masochism necessary to subject one's self to the degradations and shattered dreams that are almost inherent to a creative life. Played the show to nobody except the two employees. One of the best sets we ever did.

March 2012 – Woke up on my 29th birthday, “Cop Killer” inexplicably in my head. Haven't heard the song in years. Pondered a connection, couldn't put it together. Considered the mysterious currents that waft around our various cortexes, delivering seemingly arbitrary snippets of a life's worth of detritus to the forefront of our consciousness, only to have it recede again into the synaptic stew from which it bubbled. Made coffee. Downloaded the first Body Count album. Pretty much as ridiculous as I remember it being, though I still rather enjoy it. The musicianship is fairly bumbling and the lyrics are clumsy, but it's not without its charm. It all sounds like the point where New York crossover thrash was slowing down a bit, but hadn't quite devolved into groove metal and rap-rock. Except performed by people who were not at all well-versed in the ways of their instruments.

Some of it's just not awesome. “Voodoo” kinda just sounds like the worst of Danzig's lyrical conceits, taken to a weird, dramatic extent. Ice T's attempt to sing on “The Winner Loses” is also pretty goddamn atrocious. It's almost good, it's so bad. Almost. But there were other moments that, while as subtle as a fart at a funeral, were actually pretty on point. The lingering race question weighs heavily on the album. It reflects in “Cop Killer,” “KKK Bitch,” “There Goes The Neighborhood,” etc. And while it's never addressed in an especially nuanced fashion, it is interesting to hear the variety of ways in which it's brought up. It's really easy to hear the over-the-top vulgarity of the album but there's something to a lot of these songs, a bluntness that's a little more in touch with reality than a lot of metal tends to be.

Cop kill... er....

But it's honest. They weren't saying what a million hardcore bands hadn't already said, but they brought this sort of thing to larger crowds than ever before (if you don't count “I Shot The Sheriff” or whatever). They made cop-killing catchy. They tried to show things as they were, to pull back the mask. They may have outlived their moment in the sun, some of them at least (R.I.P. Beatmaster V, Mooseman, and D-Roc the Executioner). And their legacy won't ever shake Law & Order. But for a minute there, they made something threatening. Something that was, as the man said, deep. Because it was about racism and shit.


Body fucking Count


Post Script - so I just did a search and realized our man Cobras already posted this one, beating me to the punch by three years or so. But I already typed the motherfucker out, so yeah.


Nekromantis said...

Heh, ridiculous yet somehow hard to resist. It's catchy and all but oh well.. I persist to resist. Partly because I think that a lot of what this album does well suits better gangsta rap than metal. Damn I love 90's gangsta rap by the way! Now for a moment fuck De La Soul, fuck Black-conscious hip-hop and motherfuck the pitchfork hipster rap bullshit! Let it be instead the year '94 and put a gangbanging sociapath in the studio and make him share what goes in his mind.

Dre motherfucking Dog! Here's to you!

"I'm not a motherfucking animal. You want your pussy ate baby? Find a nigga that's cannibal."

Mondo Bizzaro said...

The self titled is classic, i like the production and songs from violent demise though. "your fuckin with BC" "invincible gangsta" and "strippers" are in my party playlist and still hold up to the test of time as awesome. Didnt jello Biarfa produce one of the albums? I also thought the "hey joe" cover was really cool too.

Nothing Left Inside said...

"Hey Joe" went on for to long. I'm gonna repeat what other people have said, its got a lot of charm has this album. The second album "Born Dead" suffered from the band taking it all to seriously and the third was pretty whack with the exception of the OJ baiting " I Used To Live Her".

Nothing Left Inside said...

* " I Used To Love Her".

ReallyGood@Wounding said...

I remember shaking Ice-T's hand during the first Lollapalooza tour. He and his posse were wandering the crowd after the Body Count set. He had the weakest, limpest hand shake of any dude I have ever met. It was at that moment that I realized that Ice-T was dainty.

Anonymous said...

Anybody here heard or remember "Darkside" by the band 187? An attempt to mix rap and death metal? The vocals were the worst part; not because the guy was rapping, but because he just sounded really cheesy, like he was trying too hard. Like a lot of the vocals on Body Count... the band photo was great, though; it looked like Hootie and the Blowfish went out for Halloween as a metal band.

Anonymous said...

hey dude, what was the name of your band; arkansas reader here, reppin

purplerainingblood said...

The band was called Operation Latte Thunder. Thrashy punk stuff. We were on tour with a band called The South and a puppet show featuring pirates and vikings that fought each other until they learned how to share.