I first heard this album on John Peel's show - he played the first three tracks back to back and I was blown away by the energy and power of the music. Starting with Steve Albini's fantastically abrasive guitar riffs, then in comes Todd Trainer's crashing, booming drums (think Ringo Starr meets King Kong), Steve Weston with the most evil bass sound ever, and then Albini's shouting "Gotta eat what I pick, and I hope ya choke on it!", like he's about to explode. The rest of side one keeps up the energy, through the instrumental 'Pull The Cup', and particularly 'Crow' - lyrical insights into a twisted relationship set to rumbling bass and lopsided drums, the tension built with scabarous feedback dischords from Albini's guitar. Side two varies the pace and intensity, with the changing tempos of 'A Minute', the calm intro of 'The Idea Of North' like an oasis in the middle of a scrapyard, the sheer vitriol of 'Dog & Pony Show' and the dry humour of 'Il Porno Star'.
Recorded live in the studio, the arrangements are quite minimal and sparse but there's the genuine tension and energy which can only be generated by live performance, and it has the trademark Albini sound quality, making use of the room acoustics and purist analogue recording techniques. It's great to hear all the sophisitication and sweetening of modern music production stripped away, leaving a raw, stark recording in which nothing blunts the impact of the music.