Picks and Pans Review: The Boxed Life

updated 05/24/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/24/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Henry Rollins

Another fast talker, Rollins could be the best-looking guy on death row. From the neck up he's Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman—buzz cut, wind-sheared jaw and a cleft in his chin deep enough to store a spent cartridge. But from the neck down, he's Robert De Niro in Cape Fear—a body that's been bench-pressed into place, with a dozen or so tattoos snaking around it.

Then he opens his mouth, and what do you know? He's a comic, or at least a comical type, with a sideline in Beat-flavored poetry. Working in a mode somewhere between stand-up comedy and the loopy narratives of Spalding Gray, Rollins, 32, spins out funny monologues about life in these times.

Rollins's career path has included killing lab rats in a government research facility and more than a decade on the front lines of hard-core rock, first at the head of the great L. A. punk group Black I" lag. now with his own Henry Rollins Band. He's a busy guy.

This double-CD set, taken from live performances, is a good introduction to his nonmusical personality: smart-alecky and gloomy-funny, with a streak of adolescent outrage. When he reads his lovelorn poetry, uh-oh. But his cracked take on despair would bring a smile to the face of Samuel Beckett. Part mad dog, part puppy dog, Rollins is a work in progress, but he's getting someplace interesting. (Imago)

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