Career Retrospectacle: Revolting Cocks


This weekend, Chicago's esteemed Metro will be home-away-from-home to many former Wax Trax! acts as part of their three-night Retrospectacle that begins tonight and runs through Sunday. Featured acts include Front 242, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, members of KMFDM, and Rights Of The Accused, as well as a gaggle of DJ's.

The act we at The Shit most look forward to seeing, however, is Revolting Cocks. Mind you, it won't truly be a RevCo reunion without Richard 23 (Front 242) or Al Jourgenson, but we've heard Luc Van Acker, Paul Barker and Chris Connelly rehearsing all week and can tell you that their set is shaping up to be a full-fledged barn-burner.

In celebration of their semi-reunion, and 25+ years of recorded mayhem, we figured we'd take a look back at the music of Revolting Cocks. If you are unfamiliar with their work, we wholeheartedly recommend that you grab your crash helmet and hold on tight - as Bette Davis once said, "It's gonna be a bumpy ride."


BIG SEXY LAND (1986)

After testing the waters with the "No Devotion" 12" (and finding them sufficiently contaminated), the Revolting Cocks released their debut full-length, Big Sexy Land, upon an unsuspecting world in late 1986.

Whereas Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young railed against such injustices as the killing of students by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State in 1970 with acoustic guitars and four-part harmonies, Revolting Cocks' created a musical soundtrack to match the violence and devastation of such atrocities as the Heysel Stadium disaster ("38") and the poisonous chemical leak in Bhopal, India that killed 8,000 people instantly (the aforementioned "Union Carbide").

Like CSNY, these socially-conscious modern-day troubadours were also complete drug fiends prone to bouts of excess and lunacy that would leave lesser man cowering like beaten dogs. This strange juxtaposition of moral high and low roads led to some truly stellar moments on-record, but eventually took its toll on founding member Richard 23, who exited the band soon after the release of this album.


YOU GODDAMNED SON OF A BITCH (1988)

While the entirety of the band's debut album is reprised on this riveting live album recorded at the Metro, the original RevCo trio has morphed into a virtual biker gang of aggro-rock misfits, including Jourgenson's Ministry partner Paul Barker as well as Chris Connelly and Bill Rieflin.

Due to the programmed nature of the band's output thus far, the only real difference between this and the studio album is the addition of live drums and vocals, as well as two new cuts, "Cattle Grind" and "In The Neck".



Already, though, it is evident that the new line-up is anxious to make it's own mark rather than simply perform the music of a previous incarnation.


BEERS, STEERS AND QUEERS

As if the album title weren't enough to indicate a complete thematic about-face, one listen to such songs as their cover of Olivia Newton-John's "(Let's Get) Physical" and the playfully (?) homophobic title cut would seem to indicate that the band's new target is redneck America, even as the band members themselves cavort like a bunch of raving lunatics.

Having been privy to the shenanigans of the band around this time, we at The Shit can tell you that whatever "stories of legend" you may have heard about the extra-curricular proclivities of this bunch, they are 100% true and only the tip of the iceberg.

How the band found the wherewithal to actually record an album's worth of material is amazing - even more so when you consider that Jourgenson and Barker were also issuing new Ministry records every other year. Jourgenson, of course, was also moonlighting in Pailhead (with Ian Mackaye from Fugazi), Lard (with Jello Biafra from Dead Kennedys), and 1,000 Homo DJ's (with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Biafra) among others - all the while nursing a growing addiction to heroin.

It is at this point that the distinction between Ministry and Revolting Cocks becomes blurred, if not completely non-existent. Virtually the same line-up utilized on BS&Q appears on Ministry's live album, In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up.


LINGER FICKEN GOOD (1993)

To further confuse those unable to tell Ministry and Revolting Cocks apart, this album is issued on Sire Records, which has been home to Ministry since 1985. While this effort sees Jourgenson reduced to a support role, the rest of the gang seem all to eager to pick up the slack. The album furthers the barnyard humor introduced on Beers, Steers And Queers, and introduces yet another playful skewering of a 70's classic (this time Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy"), the rest of the album is a highly listenable slab of jagged rock grooves built around the band's now-trademark bass grooves.



On a song-by-song basis, it can be argued that this album (not to mention BS&Q) equals, if not entirely surpasses, the recent output of Ministry. Heck, even a supposed throwaway like their cover of Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" proves to be highly listenable, despite the taking of numerous stylistic liberties. "Mr. Lucky" and "Crackin' Up" combine elements of disco, funk and riff-rock, slyly digging musical grooves deep enough to bury a horse in.


COCKED AND LOADED (2006)

For those mourning the fact that thirteen years have passed by with nary a whisper from the RevCo camp, cause for celebration comes in the form of Cocked And Loaded, which is, for the most part, the work of a clean-and-sober Al Jourgenson and 500 or so of his closest friends, including Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander from Cheap Trick, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Gibby Haynes (Butthole Surfers), and Jello Biafra to name just a few.

The album, of course, had been finished since 2004, but Jourgenson's relationship with Warner Brothers was in its final stages. Now the head of his own label, 13th Planet Records (on which this album appears), Jourgenson is now able to thrust his newfound musical prolificity upon the world without first having to check with the suits at the WB.

While the album doesn't so much surpass prior entries in the RevCo canon, the sheer verve with which such songs as "Revolting Cocks Au Lait" and "Caliente" aspire to both skewer and deconstruct popular songs such as "We Will Rock You", "Another Brick In The Wall", and Bauhaus' "Dark Entries" is highly commendable. Elsewhere, tracks such as "Fire Engine" and "Pole Grinder" create a subversive, high octane fun of their own that is capable of turning any PTA or church function into an all-out orgy. We've yet to try it ourselves, of course.


COCKTAIL MIXXX (2007)

This album features all tracks from Cocked And Loaded, albeit in remixed fashion (and with not one, but two versions of "Fire Engine" for those keeping score at home). While he didn't partake in the original album sessions, original Cock Luc Van Acker reappears to remix "Dead End Streets" and one version of "Fire Engine".

It is at this point that RevCo enters the twilight zone, commiting many musical atrocities upon their own legend and "dumbing it down" to knuckle-dragger proportions on "Sex-O Olympic-O" (or, for that matter "Got Cock?"), which we refuse to acknowledge as part of the RevCo catalog.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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