Certain Songs #1168: The Miss Alans – “Big Black Gun (Wild Blue 03-30-1991)”

Outtake from All Hail Discordia
Year: 1991

“Hey make some goddamn noise, alright?

“If you don’t make noise, they’re gonna think we did this in the studio and they’re going to go ‘oh wow man, that probably took like 100 years to do that and they suck.’

“People yelling: ‘BEER! FUCK!’

“BEER!

“OK, this song is called ‘Big Black Gun’

“It’s for my family over there.”

That’s probably my favorite of all the Scott Oliver stage raps from the night of the All Hail Discordia recording. Like I said, they’d gotten what they needed the night before, so this night was all about having fun, and you could tell it with Scott’s intros and outros to several of the songs, with the rest of the band playing right along, featuring great running jokes (“James Brown, the Godfather of Soul!”), and, of course the legendary shouts of “BEER!”, a long-time Miss Alans staple.

In fact, I made a supercut, which I’ll link to at the end of this post, a Miss Alans version of the infamous Having Fun With Elvis On Stage, which remarkably was a top ten country album when it came out, because of course there was no internet to warn people what it really was.

“Big Black Gun” (or as I just accidentally typed on my phone dialing it up to play while writing this: “Big Black Gub”) is Scott’s mom’s Sally’s favorite Miss Alans song, which is why he dedicated to his family, but that also goes to how awesome Sally is, to like one of their big rock songs.

And “Big Black Gun” is one of their biggest, based around three huge-ass power chords, stop-time breakdowns, and straightforward almost metal bassline during the chorus.

Well, well, well
I’m just here for today
Put a stick through my back
Voodoo blood red bleached white clay
And I’m sorry to say that we’re chilled to belong
Cause we’re cramped up down here in America
With your pretty black gun

A satiric take on old gun-waving white dudes who think all of America’s problems automatically stem from darker skinned people — an attitude that we luckily don’t have to deal with these days! — “Big Black Gun” highlights one of the aspects of the All Hail Discordia recording that I truly love: Scott’s arsenal of weird things to do with his voice. On the album proper, there is the animal noises on “Pregnant Boy,” and the utter disintegration at the end of “Rake,” both of which are awesome, but neither are a patch “Big Black Gun.”

“Big Black Gun” features an extended coda that has Scott singing “Well, well” and “A-merrrrrr-i-ca” with increasing hysteria while Manny toss off a crazy solo around his voice like they’re Page & Plant, or at least Axl & Slash.

After a quick breakdown, it devolves into one of my favorite parts of any Miss Alans songs: Scott chanting “well, well, well, well, well, well” at the edge of his range while Ronny abandons his snare drum, Jay’s pumping his bass and Manny is playing a descending riff until they all collapse against the wall of power chords that started the song in the first place.

I still remember the first time I heard Manny’s tape of this show: we were driving up to San Francisco in Jay’s van to see Neil Young & Sonic Youth, a week after this show. And it was glorious, listening to it as we crossed the Bay Bridge in to the city, having no idea that it would still resonate so much all these years later.

“Big Black Gun (Wild Blue 03-30-1991)”

“Having Fun With The Miss Alans Onstage”

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