Big Black was an American punk rock band from Evanston, Illinois, active from 1981 to 1987. Founded by singer and guitarist Steve Albini, the band's initial lineup also included guitarist Santiago Durango and bassist Jeff Pezzati, both of Naked Raygun. In 1985, Pezzati was replaced by Dave Riley, who played on Big Black's two full-length studio albums, Atomizer (1986) and Songs About Fucking (1987).
Big Black's aggressive and abrasive music was characterized by distinctively clanky guitars and the use of a drum machine rather than a drum kit, elements that foreshadowed industrial rock. The band's lyrics flouted commonly held taboos and dealt frankly— and often explicitly— with politically and culturally loaded topics including murder, rape, child sexual abuse, arson, racism, and misogyny. Though the band's lyrics contained controversial material, the lyrics were meant to serve as a commentary or a display of distaste for the subject matter. They were staunchly critical of the commercial nature of rock, shunning the mainstream music industry and insisting on complete control over all aspects of their career. At the height of their success, they booked their own tours, paid for their own recordings, refused to sign contracts, and eschewed many of the traditional corporate trappings of rock bands. In doing so, they had a significant impact on the aesthetic and political development of independent and underground rock music.
In addition to two studio albums, Big Black released two live albums, two compilation albums, four EPs, and five singles, all through independent record labels. Most of the band's catalog was kept in print through Touch and Go Records for years following their breakup.
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