The Tuk Ten: Day 2 – The Rollins Band, Weight (1995)

The second album in The Tuk Ten (the rock edition) is Weight by The Rollins Band.  Weight came out in the middle of that band’s career.  It doesn’t have as much of the exposed raw energy of the debut album, End of Silence.  What Weight does have is a mature and hard edge coupled with some fine engineering that runs through the entire album.  

Henry Rollins is a multidimensional performer and creator.  He is known as a singer, a bandleader, a writer, a spoken word artist, a television and radio performer, voice artist and world traveller.  Much has been written about him, and that doesn’t need to be revisited here.  

It took a long time for the mainstream press to stop being dismissive of Rollins as simply a punk rocker.  In fact, if you aren’t familiar with him as a thinker, or as a content creator, go spend some time on the web getting acquainted.  It’s a deep rabbit hole. 

Rollins always struck me as a serious artist, one who bleeds for what he does.  You can’t say that about every singer/frontperson to come out of the 1990s, or any decade for that matter.  The 2000s started the era in which every entertainer was consumed with becoming a mogul.  The music wasn’t enough – there had to be a clothing line, a fragrance, or some other line of business that could pour revenue into the singer’s bank account.  There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but Rollins was never one to go on tour without a new studio album, because it would be intellectually or artistically dishonest. 

The Nineties was the beginning of the grunge era.  This was the decade of Nirvana, then Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and other heavies like The Smashing Pumpkins, Bush, Foo Fighters.  Rollins, at the time, was a throwback to the punk era.  Rollins’ prior band, Black Flag, was squarely in the punk genre drawing a straight line from The Sex Pistols and The Ramones.  Los Angeles, where both Black Flag and Rollins Band originated from, produced alternate metal bands like Tool, Jane’s Addiction and Rage Against the Machine around this time.  It was a fertile time period. 

When Rollins departed Black Flag and went solo, he pivoted towards a more straight ahead rock sensibility. 

The main characteristic that comes through when you listen to Weight is earnestness.  There is  sincere and intensive conviction that pours out of the songs on this album, and out of the Rollins Band catalogue in general.  

What Weight signifies to me is the full expression of what The Rollins Band was.  A straight ahead, well produced rock band, with quite a bit to say about personal interactions, relationships, stardom, popularity, hard times and a host of other topics.  In particular, the third track on the album, Icon, decries popular artists who are devoid of talent (It doesn’t matter what you say / ‘Cause they always find some meaning in it anyway / So you make them feel like they’re a part of some big event / They’ll be too busy cheering to wonder where your talent went).

The engineering on the album is stellar.  You can actually hear all the instruments, all the riffs and lines and no one element overpowers the overall mix.  It’s not every rock record you get your hands on where the engineering is this good.  Of course, with this style of music, overproduction is a risk.  Sounding too produced or too slick would undermine the Rollins Band DIY sound, and run counter to what the band was about.  Weight adeptly walks the line.  

Bryan Tuk is a writer, attorney and musician. His recent book: risk, create, change: a survival guide for startups and creators, is available on Amazon. You can find out more about Bryan’s writings and music at http://riskcreatechange.com

His law practice represents clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey and focuses on arts & entertainment law matters, copyrights, trademarks, nonprofit organizations, startups and entrepreneurs. You can learn about Bryan’s law practice at http://tuklaw.com.

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