Body Count

Body Count

Warner Brothers Records, 1992

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


If you want to start an argument amongst people, here's a quick way: bring up the subject of "Cop Killer" and Ice-T's heavy metal band Body Count.

The controversy over their self-titled debut became so intense that the song in question was pulled from the album and Warner Brothers dropped Ice-T from their roster. To this day, there still are a lot of raw nerves surrounding this issue.

But after the smoke clears, Body Count has some good moments, some okay playing, and some disturbing moments... and one of those is not "Cop Killer."

Ice-T takes the reins of this all-black heavy metal band (though they weren't the first to lay claim to that title - helloooooo, Living Colour), with a dual guitar attack from Ernie C and D-Roc. With a solid bass line laid down by Mooseman and backbeat from Beatmaster V, one would think the basis has been laid for a solid metal act.

But the band's youth shows - they hadn't tightened up as a unit when they recorded Body Count; had they maybe put in an extra six months jelling as a group, this would have been a better album in general.

And while Ice-T wants to stake a name for himself as a metal vocalist, he rarely sings on this one - which I found disappointing. He does clear out the pipes pretty well on "TheWinner Loses" - and had it not been for an errant portion of the chorus, this would have been a great song (for you musicians, the band plays in E minor, they sing in E natural). Ironically, it is the only one that could have been played on the radio.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And as for "Cop Killer".... naaaah, we'll wait a little longer to go into this one.

When Body Count puts their minds to it, they are able to put together some songs with good messages and well-crafted rhythms. "Bowels Of The Devil" is a powerful anti-drug song, while "KKK Bitch," despite the "live by the dick" message, is a somewhat humorous attack on racism. Another anti-racism song, "There Goes The Neighborhood," tries to dispel the belief that blacks can't play heavy metal. One word - wrong. With the chops of Ernie C and crew, it doesn't matter what race the musicians are, this is a good song played by very capable musicians.

But while some songs feature some solid humor ("Voodoo"), others are just a little too graphic in their nature. "Momma's Gotta Die Tonight" is the song that does border on the tasteless, wiping away the message that even parents can teach racist ways to their children. In the song, the character portrayed by Ice-T solves the problem by rationalizing his mother is evil and murders her. Frankly, this song scares me.

It scares me more so than "Cop Killer," which offends many people - except me. And I probably should be offended - true story, I lost a friend who was a police officer to the violence of the streets. And when I hear this song, I don't think it has the power of making young, angry men and women pumping the law enforcement officers of this country full of lead. Instead, I hear the frustrations of a generation being taken out in music. I highly doubt that Ice-T would be chanting "Fuck the police" to an officer's face - this is why he does so in song. Call it a release, call it blasphemy, call it what you want, just don't blame the violence of the world on music. (If you have the CD with "Cop Killer" as I do, you have a collector's item.)

The short interludes between the tracks are more of a distraction, though some of the messages they have are important. Interesting to note that on their following release, these interludes were all but gone. Hmmmm...

Body Count is definitely not an album for everybody, and is a raw, obscenity-filled tirade about life and the harsh realities of the streets. It ain't always pretty to listen to. But then again, life isn't always peaches and cream.

Rating: B-

User Rating: B



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.