After a decade and five albums, the original Rollins Band line up had nothing new on the horizon. The way Henry Rollins tells it, the dude at his local record store gave him a record. It was record by that record store dude’s band Mother Superior. Henry liked it and the band asked him to come to the studio and help them record. That same day, Henry and the three dudes from Mother Superior had written a few songs together. All of a sudden, a new version of Rollins Band was formed. They would spend the next five years touring and recording some of the best music to come out under that moniker. And while it sucks that there’s been no music from any version of Rollins Band in a decade and half, at least they went out on a bang, with Nice.
One Shot is a pretty cool song and a more than adequate opener, but Nice really kicks into gear with Up For It. Rollins’ speak singing almost reaching hip hop flow, topped off with a soaring organ and soul sister backing vocals. It’s a new dimension to the Rollins Band sound that is like nothing they’d done before, but still 100% Rollins Band.
And while the straight up punk rock directness and hard rock shredding of Gone to Zero might not be anything new, who needs new when this classic approach is tackled so well? As long as this album has existed, I’ve been baffled and blown away by Your Number is One. It’s a song where the guitar, bass and vocals are just as responsible for the percussion as the drum kit. It’s the kind of song that you would listen to before you robbed a bank, did a mob hit while cranked up on speed, or jumped out of a plane.
Stop, Look and Listen sounds like a Tool song with all the really elaborate, intricate or indulgent bits stripped away, and just the really ass kicking riffage left behind. While the dense dirge of Going Out Strange proves that Rollins Band and Nice don’t need to rely on a break neck tempo and extreme aggression to bring the intensity.
The blues indulgence of Let That Devil Out might not be the best song for this band to have ultimately ended their career on, but everything else about Nice that comes before it is an awesome showcase of Rollins Band at their best. When I wrote about the band’s breakthrough Weight, I said, “It’s angry, it’s loud, it’s aggressive and in your face. But there’s still plenty of room for melody, nuance and even a little experimentation.” Six years and a new backing band line up later, and that was still the best thing about Rollins Band, and what makes Nice a pretty great legacy to leave behind.