High Rollers

New releases in the New Zealand charts: 28 May 1989

  • Simply Red – If You Don’t Know Me By Now
  • Metallica – One
  • Ice-T – High Rollers

I have never liked Metallica.  Or Ice-T.  For quite different reasons.

That leaves Simply Red.  I can’t – with complete honesty – say that I don’t like Mick.  Money’s Too Tight is a good song, and I like Holding Back the YearsIf You Don’t Know Me By Now though?  So many Bentwood chairs and so poorly stacked.

You’re all fired.

High Rollers is about how wanting to be a high roller is dumb because you will end up dead or in jail.  Which was an unexpected angle and probably something critics missed when they accused him of glorifying crime.  Mostly there is footage – actual footage – of drug raids, and arrests, spliced in with Ice-T and his flunkeys promenading by a pool with improbably large cell phones.  The cell phones are a clue to his analysis of trends in modern crime.

Because these high ranked officials of our city streets
Make millions all triggered by electric beeps

Beepers connecting players to big-time deals
With all of this technology who needs to steal

He’s talking about computers.  To clarify.

There is also some cryptic commentary on crime fashion:

Silk shirts, leather suits, hair always fresh
Eel skin boots, large hearts, though their sizes vary

Few rappers would bother to comment on the variance in size of boots (or hearts, it’s unclear) when painting a picture of criminals.  Ice-T goes the extra mile.

“You’re welcome”

I don’t really like American metal.  It has too much treble.  The distortion is clean sounding, and there’s a lot of technique.  There’s something neat about it that grunge blundered through successfully.  So there’s that and there’s the fact that Metallica seem very pretentious to me.  This whole thing with the man wounded in war trapped inside himself.  Yeah, I get it.  That would be right up top on everyone’s top five list of: Shit Things That Could Happen To Me.  The lyrics though just seem to literally describe how being this man would be a bummer.  It’s hard to disagree.  People call this an anti-war song but I’m not seeing it.  The lyrics aren’t anti-war.  If anything the song is exploiting this character’s bizarre situation purely as a cool idea for a tune.  The situation of the character is so unquestionably bad that all the musicians can flail at their instruments in black and white and not have to worry about being taken seriously.  THIS IS VERY SERIOUS. But I can’t help thinking it’s all very silly indeed.  Like the song I just made up now about a mute cat stuck in a wardrobe listening to people shaking bags of cat food.  Imagine.

bad day
At least his hair is rockin’

So in the new situation where I rate things (which I will get bored of), and remembering that I can’t give a seven or a three I think I’d go:

  • Simply Red – If You Don’t Know Me By Now (2/10)
  • Metallica – One (4/10)
  • Ice-T – High Rollers (5/10)

At least Ice-T has a good backing track, and some rock solid wisdom to share.

Out there getting that long money, you know what I’m sayin’
But that fast money leads to a fast life and a quick death
This is my word, this is Ice-T
And I ain’t got no reason to lie to you

Published by


I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō