Sunday, February 1, 2015

SST Unreleased/"Help Us Hurt You"/"We Think You Can Handle It"

We all know of the cinematic collaborations of Henry Rollins and Lydia Lunch. Let’s see. There is the seldom seen Where Are You Going? from 1983 with Exene. Then there is R. Kern’s The Right Side of My Brain (1984) with a Rollins cameo. Then there is 1990’s Kiss Napoleon Goodbye by Babeth Mondini vanLoo. Straight to euro TV and VHS? What you may not know was that in 1985 there was a planned and shelved SST LP collaboration that even had a release number and date attached to it. Right at the height of Flagdom. Do you even care? I guess I still do. Certain Dylanologists have dissected the written work of Rollins to discern any seepage into the lyrical content of some of Dylan's best late period works like Time Out of Mind (1997). I was a fan of Black Flag pre-Henry Rollins and have kept an interest (that waxes and wanes) in his doings up to this day (saw him in LA back on his 50th). I can remember going to the old Music Plus in Sherman Oaks and buying Damaged the week it came out (with a mitzvah gift certificate and thus not from my usual Moby Disc). No real trepidation as I knew of SOA in advance and liked immensely what I heard (Flex Your Head – violin pressing, borrowed and taped from Fiberglass through a mutual friend). A high water mark for 1982 and a game changer no doubt, though I think that My War is the band’s (or GG’s) definitive artistic statement. Post My War, and until I originally bailed for Santa Cruz, when Rollins would make a spoken word appearance in LA, me and my pals would try to go. The Lhasa Club usually. Perusing the March 1985 New Releases schedule (thanks Grady!), SST 40 was supposed to be the Rollins/Lunch lp Help Us Hurt You. SST 40 ended up being the 1986 Das Damen release instead. Somehow we missed this performance/reading (and the one with Nick Cave as well), though it is unclear what year Help Us Hurt You took place, and if it was even a live taping of the "happening." A little research has turned up a bit. Carducci referenced the live spoken word performance on Watt's hootpage:
In 1985 or so, Henry Rollins and Lydia Lunch performed at the Club Lingerie for the hipsters of Hollywood. The attendees lined up and went into a room one at a time only to find themselves verbally accosted and physically abused by these two scamps. The L.A. Weekly's La De Da column the next week was full of outrage directed at La Lunch and El Rollins on behalf of friends of the editors. The performance was called, 'Help Us Hurt You.'
I also found reference to the Rollins/Lunch live piece in James Parker’s Rollins bio Henry Rollins: Turned On (Orion Books, 2001), but not as an lp. Help Us Hurt You sounded like the children’s tactile dome at MOTAT except you were assaulted with vague psychological terror by the Rollins/Lunch tag team. A great rock record or spoken word verite document it doesn’t sound like. From Parker:
The Rollins/Lunch double-act’s most notorious outing took place at the Lhasa Club in Hollywood, in late 1983. The flyer for the evening ran: Why You Murder Me Productions presents the dynamic duo of Rollins and Lunch versus You. . . Lunch’s concept was for her and Rollins to occupy a darkened back room of the club and await the punters, who would enter one at a time to be raked with a torchlight and savage wit. On the other side of the door, friends of the duo were deployed to spread fear among the crowd. Lydia Lunch: “According to how you reacted to being thrown into a pitch dark room with me and Rollins, that’s how you were treated . . .
Henry also makes no mention of it in Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag (2.13.61 Publications, 1994). So far no insight from Messrs. Schwartz and Farrell though Henry is likely to provide some more information. To be continued.

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