Henry Rollins is one of the great polarizers in the music world; people either love him or love to hate him, and there is no middle ground. That's how it is when you're an icon, and after 18 years of barking his beliefs into a microphone, Rollins qualifies for icon status. But an icon for what? The punk-rock DIY ethic he supposedly sold out by becoming moderately successful? Tough-love self-help guru for those with low self-esteem? Power-lifting overcompensation archetype for the downtrodden underachiever?
How about "none of the above"? The only thing Rollins stands for is Rollins. So get over the rest of that shit and just listen to the music. The new album, Get Some Go Again (Dreamworks), is the best thing he's put out since The End of Silence. Rollins has apparently laid some ghosts to rest and rediscovered the sense of humor he's been missing since Dec. 19, 1991. His new songs still deliver the heavy-ordnance jams, but they cover a broader emotional range than the last two albums' overriding despair/anger/ revenge themes. He's not writing good-time party music, but he can rock your ass without bringing you all the way down. His new band is lean and tight, switching gears easily from the plod of "Brother Interior" to the sprint of "Go Day Glo" to the funky strut of "Illuminator," which may just be the toughest, smartest, funniest 14 minutes recorded this year. Whether you go to hear him blast through "Followed Around" or the full-on fury of "Shine," please bear these three things in mind: (1) Hydrate yourself properly. It's going to be a long, hot, loud show, and you don't want to crack your head on the unforgiving cement of Mississippi Nights' floor. (2) Stay off the man's stage. You don't want to crack your head on the unforgiving cement of Mississippi Nights' floor. (3) Leave the Black Flag T-shirt at home. There's nothing more pathetic than aging punkers screaming for "Six Pack" between songs. Rollins didn't write it, he's not going to play it and it's not 1984 anymore. He's matured a little since then; why can't you?