Sweatbox - (1992)
This two-disc set of Henry Rollins' spoken word performances from 1987 and 1988 is typically engaging, showcasing his sharp wit and ability to interact with his audience. Hitting on topics as distanced as masturbation and David Letterman, the former Black Flag frontman goes into each of his rants with equal gusto, and proves himself to be a great entertainer. Storytelling is a skill, and Rollins has it, whether he is trying to make an occasional serious point about the struggles of life or telling one-liners (incidentally, at one point in the set he comments that his favorite one-liner comedian is Nietzsche). Rollins is a cutup, a punk rock class clown with a skill for rhetoric, and these shows, played for an audience of a couple of hundred, allow him to step to the front of the class and play the obnoxious teacher for a bit. He's clearly a bit peeved from time to time, but he makes his incensed points about hating cops and stupid people with a hearty dose of humor, and it's especially effective. This disc allows the hardcore Renaissance man to prove his brains are equal to his brawn, and above all else, he's damn funny. The crowd is in constant hysterics for almost all but the most serious of his material, and there are only about a few minutes' worth of that. Sweatbox is a great set of tales with plenty of attitude and a fired-up delivery, certainly worth the time for anyone who is a fan of this multifaceted artist and his uniquely self-deprecating approach.