“Weight” by Rollins Band (No. 84)

If you ever need an album to derive inspiration from at the gym, Weight is your friend. The Rollins Band’s 1994 Weight is the Rollins Band at its most accessible, but losing none of its hardness.

“Disconnect” starts relatively placidly, Rollins speak-singing about wanting to get away from the noise of other people before putting the song abruptly into high gear. Rinse, repeat. It’s the best anthem for the weary.

If “Disconnect” is for the weary, “Fool” is your song to put on repeat when the relationship fails. “I should be healing myself, instead of hurting myself, I am a fool, I know, I know, I know” Rollins yowls while the rest of the band pushes harder and harder and harder.

This iteration of the Rollins Band is beyond reproach. Guitarist Chris Haskett puts most metal guitarists to shame with playing that’s as hard as it is intricate and inventive. Sim Cain is a mighty, mighty drummer with finesse and power. Melvin Gibbs brings amazing fretwork on the bass.

A couple of themes surface on Weight. “Fool” and “Liar” touch on relationships, “Divine” and “Icon” hit on celebrity worship. “Alien Blueprint,” “Disconnect,” explore alienation from other people. “Civilized,” and “Volume 4” touch on the affects of gun culture. Thematically, Weight contains some of Rollins’ most positive songs like “Shine” and some that are just done with people altogether.

Weight is the album that put the Rollins Band on the Grammys, even if they didn’t wind up taking home an award for the disc. At least they got to deliver what is likely the heaviest sonic assault on a Grammy audience in the history of the awards show.

“Liar” was the most successful cut off the album, and its video a popular staple on MTV. “Liar” lives up to its name by seducing the listener with what sounds like Henry doing his best Barry White, only to explode into the chorus. It’s the Rollins Band at its most commercial, but at the same time explicitly rejecting the commercial approach. “Yeah, we could write radio-safe hit songs. We just don’t want to” seems to be the message here.

You may have heard “Shine” before, even if you’ve never listened to this album, used as incidental music for Dennis Miller’s show on HBO. And why not? It’s practically begging to be used to pump the audience up. “All you’ve got is lifetime. Go!

Weight should be the entry album for anybody new to the Rollins Band. It may not be the band’s best work, but it’s easily the best for anyone not already sold on the Rollins Band’s metal-meets-punk-meets-jazz-meets-blues approach.

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