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REVOLTING COCKS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Big Sexy Land (Wax Trax!) 1986
You Goddamned Son of a Bitch (Wax Trax!) 1988
Beers, Steers + Queers (Wax Trax!) 1989
Linger Ficken' Good ... and Other Barnyard Oddities (Sire/Reprise) 1993

Public Image, taking a cue from Can (whose drummer, Jaki Liebezeit, made that band's most far-flung journeys swing), mixed disco beats with arty noise on Metal Box. Revolting Cocks — a highly productive collaboration between Chicago powerhouse Al Jourgensen (Ministry, etc.) and Belgian producer/musician Luc Van Acker, joined by Belgian technoid Richard 23 of Front 242, Scotland's Chris Connelly (whose semi-industrial dance-rock group, Fini Tribe, once recorded a Can song) and other brothers-in- noise, including Jeff Ward of Lard — initially followed those early PiL efforts, rather than the dozens of industrial dance outfits that sprang up in Europe throughout the '80s. Deliberately and unapologetically abrasive (the vocals are invariably Brillo-throated), Revolting Cocks are a big heap of snarling, ugly fun. And of all the interconnected side projects to come off the Chicago industrial factory floor in the mid-'80s, RevCo was the only one to take on a stable life of its own.

With Richard 23 joining the basic RevCo pair, Big Sexy Land is diverting but unremarkable; nearly all of the material on it receives an unexpected charge on the charmingly titled double-live set You Goddamned Son of a Bitch. Caught bringing the noise live at a single September 1987 Chicago concert, the quintet (including Ministry's Paul Barker, who co-produced, and drummer William Rieflin) is transformed, swapping abstruse clinical detail for a harsh, distorted dose of malevolent reality. Even though the set list includes all but one number from Big Sexy Land (the title track, as it happens), the live album resembles it only in passing. Rather than feebly dancing to the performance, one envisions the audience warily eyeballing exit routes in case the heaviness gets out of hand.

The same vein-popping intensity — and a few other things, like "In the Neck," an ugly number unveiled on the live album — moves into the studio for Beers, Steers + Queers. Employing the same quintet lineup as on the live record, this is, to a point, RevCo's tour de force. Although the band's concept is still distinctly less bloodthirsty than Ministry's, the interlocking personnel lists and Jourgensen's forceful leadership does make for a certain resemblance, even when Connelly's quoting both Johnny Rotten and John Otway in "(Let's Get Physical)." The title cut makes the most of the complex interaction of a set of very stiff rhythms, the base provided by a looped turntable scratch that's sure to send your roommate off the roof. The monolithic "Get Down" is highlighted by an honest- to-god guitar solo that recalls both prime Lou Reed and prime Tom Verlaine. Alas, "(Let's Talk) Physical," a seven- minute CD "bonus" reduced from the album's "(Let's Get) Physical," simply loops someone screaming the word "physical," and is meant to send you off the roof.

The technological bent of the debut 12-inch ("No Devotion") and Big Sexy Land didn't last long. The album's synthesized club beats are left relatively unsullied by Jourgensen's usual compost-heap attack. On tracks like "We Shall Cleanse the World," "Big Sexy Land" and "T.V. Mind," vocals (when there any) don't get in the way; spoken-word samples, bass and other elements add color and scraps of structure, but the downstrokes remain surgically clean. Although it's undoubtedly not the group's intention, a polite record like this could give the genre a good name.

Making their first album specifically for CD (not to mention a major label) after four years off, the Revolting Cocks calmed down and stretched out, filling Linger Ficken' Good with lengthy, precisely calibrated beats- plus-samples-and-stuff tracks. Breaking the pattern, "Butcher Flower's Woman" rips open a raw, messy hole, "Mr. Lucky" takes another hip-hop hit and the title track puts the volume down to inject rude, funny samples and patter into a brisk and snappy jazz walk. Otherwise, most of the unwavering rhythms carry Connelly's cranky-sounding processed vocals in monotonous grooves that remove their sting. The jam only gets moving full-steam-ahead in a grinding, sleazy but safe cover of Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?." Now what does that mean?

RevCo broke up after that, but reformed, without Rieflin, in 2000.

[Glenn Kenny/Ira Robbins]
   See also Chris Connelly, Front 242, Ministry, Pigface, Luc Van Acker