By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
"I Hold No Grudge"
Bitter, angry, sensitive, queenly and brilliant, jazz singer Nina Simone moved to Europe to escape the racism she encountered in America, but the scars never healed. Among her crowning achievements were a particularly disturbing cover of "Strange Fruit," her original "Mississippi Goddamn" (an enraged indictment of the South that, like Robinson's "Glad to Be Gay," contrasted caustic words with upbeat music) and "I Hold No Grudge," perhaps Simone's most touching moment. In this slow ballad from 1966 laden with lush strings, she sang heavy-heartedly, "I hold no grudge, and I'll forgive you your mistakes/But forgive me if I take it all to heart/To make sure that it doesn't start again." She never returned to America.
Body Count was rapper Ice-T's short-lived speed-metal group, and a shit storm of controversy followed them in 1992 due to the song "Cop Killer," with its exhortations of "Fuck the police!" and "Die, pig, die!" It all came to a head in San Diego, where the group opened a bill at Jack Murphy Stadium with Guns N' Roses and Metallica. Then-Governor Pete Wilson demanded they be dropped from the bill; the San Diego Police Officer's Association wrote Ice-T a letter requesting that he not perform the song; promoters publicly announced that T had promised to comply. It didn't quite work out that way. Body Count closed their set with "Cop Killer," wherein T produced the Police Officer's Association letter, stuffed it down his pants, and proceeded to rub it lustily all over his private bits as police looked on with rancor in their eyes.
When he first came on the scene in the late '70s, Costello came off like a heckled class nerd returned to pipe-bomb anyone who'd ever tormented him. He had the snarling, splenetic fury of the best punk bands, but he mixed it with clever, literate songwriting that made his bile even more effective. "Radio Radio" was a malevolent stab at the bland, sanitized airwaves, which at the time relentlessly droned the latest spew by the Doobie Brothers, the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac (how little has changed) as it attempted to stem the tide of the new wave about to inundate the dinosaurs: "I wanna bite the hand that feeds me; I wanna bite the hand so badly," he growled. Elvis needn't have concerned himself with being fed, since for the past 20-plus years, radio has steadfastly refused to support almost everything he's released anyway.
Is it possible for a song to be pissed-off without even the benefit of lyrics? Link Wray proved it was with this foreboding, 1958 instrumental that conjured up the image of a leather-jacketed, switchblade-wielding juvenile delinquent as effectively as any cheap period hot-rod flick. Wray's guitar tone is positively menacing as he attacks his strings with feral agitation. Whoever it is he's gonna rumble with better run and hide in the hills 'cause this guy is out to kick some serious ass!
Anything by Johnny Rebel
We've given plenty of ink to pissed-off Leftists here, so let's acknowledge the right-wing lunatic fringe for being more hateful than thou. Johnny Rebel recorded for Louisiana's Reb Rebel Records throughout the '60s, releasing mind-bogglingly slimy country songs with titles like "Move Them Niggers North," whose lyrics really warrant no further discussion. Suffice it to say there's nothing in the whole wide world more pissed-off than a stupid white guy needing someone to look down on. And no, we won't even endeavor to dissect the world of Oi! music here.
Anything by G.G. Allin
How does one even begin to try to determine whether "Suck My Ass It Smells" is more rabid than "Bite It, You Scum," "Kill Thy Father, Rape Thy Mother," "I'll Slice Yer Fucking Throat" or "Sleeping in My Piss"? You don't. You just accept the obvious—that Allin was the most pissed-off, anarchistic, psychotic, anti-social man who ever stepped on a stage—and deal with his legacy of atrocities accordingly. Allin was hatred incarnate; all other punk rockers are poseurs by comparison. A G.G. Allin show was a war zone, not a concert. He performed naked, he made doodies onstage and threw them at the crowd, he beat the crowd up, and he sexually molested them. But that was nothing compared with what Allin did to himself: a typical evening might find Allin smashing bottles on his face and rolling naked in the broken glass, shoving barstools up his bumhole until it gushed blood—and, um, letting fans empty their colons right into his mouth. The spectacle of Allin trading barbs with Geraldo and Jane Whitley ranks as some of the best TV of the decade, too (for a brief time, he was all the rage on the talk-show circuit). It's probably a good thing that the psychofreak with the microscopic penis is dead now, but somehow, rock & roll just seems a little too safe without him. His anger is the anger by which all subsequent anger shall be measured.