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Smile Once In Awhile

Henry Rollins
(2.13.61 / Thirsty Ear)

(yeah, so it's not music...calm down)
This 2-CD set is Rollins newest offering in his series of spoken word performances. Although it is somewhat similar to his past recordings, it goes in quite a different than his other work. The main reason behind this is that on Everything, Rollins is reading a chapter from his book Eye Scream. In his past recordings, most of the work has been captured in a sort of improv style, giving it more life. Although he tries his best to give the readings their own style, it just doesn't work as well as in the past. Because there is no crowd noise or other stimuli on this recording, he has instead enlisted the help of musicians Charles Gayle and Rahied Ali to provide a score. It ranges from freestyle jazz to street sounds and sirens. Although it is nice at some times, it gets a bit loud at points and it's kind of hard to hear the actual words (perhaps this is part of the point).

Another great difference in this recording is the actual subject matter. On most of his old recordings, Rollins would wander all over in his storytelling. Sometimes it is hilarious, and other times he is completely serious. Since it is a chapter from his book, it falls more in line with the subject matter of the majority of his written work. It's serious and contemplative in its entirety. Sometimes it falls victim to cliche', however, and several times Rollins sounds like he might have borrowed lines out of the diary of a pissed off high-school freshman. Another thing that gets kind of repetitive is how many times he mentions how much he hates policeman. Anyone who has listened to any work by him before knows his stance, so it is a bit overwhelming to hear about it 30 more times in a 2 hour period. The mood is somber throughout, but there are some very interesting points that give it some respectibility.

Rating: 4.5