Spoken Word Releases

Black Flag's

Family Man

The first time Rollins appeared as a spoken word artist. Recorded and released in 1984, this album is actually far more Black Flag instrumental than spoken word. It's very raw, consisting of Rollins reading from his journals (in studio and on home equipment) and some taping that Black Flag did live without overdubs after doing the "Live from Radio Tokyo" taping session. Highlights:
  • Family Man: Short, but classic. A comment on suburbia.
  • Hollywood Diary: Ever feel like you've felt too much?
  • Armageddon Man: Rollins' speaking over Flag improv. Also the single longest Black Flag song: clocking in at 9:14, it's nearly a third of the album.
Short Walk

on a

Long Pier

His first solo release. It was initially a cassette only release of 1000 that was put out on vinyl in 1989. It's not made it to CD. My copy was donated to me by brother Dan Parris a few years ago, but it got warped and is unplayable... DOH! A dubbed copy was later made by the honorable Tom Troccoli... thanks, boss!

This is a collection of recordings from 1985. Clocking in at 70 minutes, this is definitely Rollins at his most raw. It sounds very similar to the material recorded on Family Man in many ways. You can hear Rollins' sense of humor, but the blend isn't in there yet. No track listings on this release.

Big

Ugly

Mouth

A decent collection of recordings made between 1987-1988. Highlights include:
  • New Age Blues: Classic commentary on modern culture. Hilarious stuff.
  • Short Story: Great story about the interrupted sexual encounter. It happens.
  • New York Story: A commentary on the virtues of responsibility and decency.
  • Boy on the Train: Kind of depressing, but observant view of the urban reality.
Sweatbox
Probably my favorite of the bunch. A very diverse, double CD set from 1987-1988.
  • Blueprints for the Destruction of the Earth: A complete and total laugh riot. So utterly great.
  • Friction Part 1: An incredible dissertation on masturbation. Almost as funny as Blueprints...
  • Fun with Letterman: A quick one. A hypothetical situation of Rollins being on Letterman.
  • Running, Crawling: By turns bitingly tragic and righteously funny. The bit on roaches is incredible.
  • Untouchable: A really true fact of life scarcely noticed by anyone.
Live

at

McCabe's

Some stories from being on the road and from his childhood... 1990.
  • I Wish Someone had told Me: The frustration of adolescence and the tribs of being male.
  • Misunderstanding: A moment of confusion in punkdom during a trip to Zagreb.
Human

Butt

Another double set, this from 1989-1990. Longer material.
  • Adventures of an Asshole: How a mishap in Australia fucked up a chunk of Rollins time.
  • Donate your Bodies to Science: The vibrant story of Crazy Paul, the homeless guy.
  • Decoration: Hell...or transportation in England. Trying to get to the airport is NOT easy.
the

Boxed

Life

A solid group of stuff primarily from 1991. At times better than Sweatbox.
  • Funny Guy: Depression... an example of the virtues and benefits.
  • Strength: Two separate bits about examples of the strength of animals vs. humans.
  • Blues: A theory about alcohol.
  • Hating Someone's Guts-Part 1: For all the Edie Brickell fans out there.
Get in

the Van

One of the most gut-wrenching and incredible things I've ever heard in my life. I've listened to this countless times. It tears me apart every time. A double disc set of Rollins reading from his book of the same title. Nearly 150 minutes of solid and brutal stories about Rollins time with the band Black Flag, most of them from the road. Deep, personal, and vicious. No prisoners taken, no bodies left behind. You can see the scars. It made me feel as significant as lint... like I'd done nothing... ever. VERY powerful.
Everything
Hank reciting from his new book Eyescream. Musical accompaniment by jazz greats Charles Gayle and Rashied Ali. Though not quite as entertaining as his on-stage spoken word stough, it's still very heavy. The music is great and works perfectly. I have to thank the mighty Tim Michael for this one... a great Christmas present from his trip to the UK.
Black

Coffee

Blues

Ok, I'm slipping. This has been out for a while. Haven't heard this yet, but I'm sure it features some of his best writing from the book (which is also monster-rockin'.)
Think Tank
Material from his fall 1997 tour of Australia and a 37th birthday show in Chicago, Illinois.
  • World Peace: A wonderful idea about solving some of the garbage in the world. Would it work? Who cares!?! It would be great.
  • El Nino: I'd been waiting to hear someone else mention this.
  • Brazil: A wonderful little story about screwing up on stage.
  • Marius: One of the more intense pieces that he's done for a few years live. Good to have this one on a record.

Rollins initially put out some of the early material on limited cassette runs. A release called Readings consists of material from 1987 exists out there somewhere. There are others, but I'm not sure what they are or how many copies were made.

There were also several compilations that were released with Rollins stuff on it. They're relatively hard to find.

Our Fathers Who Aren't in Heaven
Double Disc set on Lydia Lunch's Widowspeak label. Includes spoken word by Don Bajema, Hubert Selby, Jr., Lunch, and Rollins. The two main Rollins things on it can be found on Human Butt. The other two appear in written form in his books. This comp is mainly worth it for the Selby story "Fat Phil's Day." There's also a bit by Lunch on it about crime in the city that is tremendous. I wouldn't buy it just for the Rollins bits, but it is a good compilation.
Sound Bites from the Counter Culture
An excellent compilation from Atlantic records that is VERY out of print. Contains bits from Rollins, Jello Biafra, Jim Carroll, Hunter S. Thompson, Timothy Leary, Bob Guccione, Jr. of Spin, Hunter S. Thompson, and several others. The Rollins bit is about "the virtues of the band Black Sabbath." It is excellent. I really wish it would appear somewhere that would be easier to find.

The videos!

Talking

from

the

Box

Rollins on a decent night. Very funny stuff. He covers the L.A. riots, some stories about DC during his childhood (including some things that went on at the pet store,) depression and solitude, and the story of how his best friend Joe Cole got murdered. Not an easy story to tell, nor to listen to if you know where it's leading. Very entertaining and commanding.

You Saw

Me Up

There

Released at the same time as Think Tank, it contains many interesting road stories from the man. And I don't own it yet.

There is also another video that has been shot and canned for now of a date that Rollins did in London. Due to contract negotiations and problems at his old label Imago, it may never come out. I believe that the record company officially owns the rights to it and Rollins can't do much about it. I've read that he would really like to see it released.

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