Black Flag

One awfully noisy bug spray.... Ha! The wit strikes again! They're not a bug spray at all! In fact, they're a rock and roll band! Ha ha!
*special introductory paragraph!
*Nervous Breakdown ep
*Jealous Again ep
*The First Four Years
*Everything Went Black
*TV Party 7"
*My War
*The Complete 1982 Demos
*Family Man
*Slip It In
*Live '84
*Loose Nut
*The Process Of Weeding Out EP
*MinuteFlag EP (with the Minutemen)
*In My Head
*I Can See You ep
*Who's Got The 10 1/2?
*Muskrat Love
A legendary seminal "hardcore" band led by iron-throated shouter Henry Rollins and idiot savant guitarist Greg Ginn, Black Flag actually barely even touched the genre of music generally called "hardcore," if you axe me! Instead, they played a true rocking sound that everyone learning to play the drums aspires to. Hardcore is extremely speedy noisy aggressive mean punk music played behind an angry screaming vocalist - a form of rock and roll very similar to (though normally much more faceless than) that displayed on Rollins's first LP with the band, the brilliant Damaged. However, before Rollins joined, they were pretty much a Ramones-influenced punk rock band, and after Damaged, they alternated between sludgy heavy metal and avant noise jazz. Strange then that they're still considered a seminal "hardcore" band, especially after putting out as many questionable releases as they did.

Still, at least they were interesting. Although Greg Ginn is one of the absolute worst guitar soloists ever born, he was capable of coming up with some very unique lead melodies (especially on Damaged and In My Head) as well as possessing a bizarre recording finesse utilizing multi-tracking and reverb to such an extent that even when the music was dull (as on 1984's Slip It In), the sound was still gear enough to warrant three or four good listens. And Rollins - to this here day, he still has a pretty nifty shout, but on the first couple of Black Flag records, he sounds like he's literally out of his friggin' bean. An extremely angry and confused young man. With Mr. Muscle, they recorded five normal studio albums (most of which are fairly enjoyable), two live albums (neither of which are especially necessary), and one half-spoken word/half-instrumental album (which is abysmal). There were also some EPs here and there and every now and again and up and down and over and out, but just stick to the albums there, mister wister. mister wister kissed her sister. Mr. Wr. Kr. Sr. Albums are longer. And things that are longer are inherently better than things that are shorter.

Especially if you're talking about male sexual organs.

Greg Ginn, for example.

Reader Comments (Bill Stinson)
dear lost individual- I cannot believe you make comments about Greg Ginn's guitar playing like he "one of the worst soloists ever"...etc. Greg Ginn is genius because punk is about things like confusion, anger, pissed-off brain scorching dementia, etc.etc. Not only did Mr. Ginn write 90% of the lyrics for ol' Hank, he wrote all the music, produced records, booked tours, etc. NO ONE plays guitar like many guitarists can you say that about?! A band that stands the test of time like the flag deserves respect and obviously you lack the intelligence to comprehend the abstract, genre-bending crunch of Ginn's guitar...other than that, i dig your homepage! (Nathan Justice)
Well obviously, you have little taste in music, why would anyone who hates this genre of music review it's albums? Go back to listening to U2 and Depeche Mode, beacause you can't handle Greg Ginn, he's obviously blown you away. Listen to his solo albums and you'd probably go into cardiac arrest. Black Flag is the band, the only band that's worth a shit. I'm in a band and I learned everything I know from Greg Ginn, so there, one more crazed guitarist out there. Maybe one day you'll review our album and say I'm the worst soloist ever!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!! You better post this!!

Nervous Breakdown ep - SST 1978.
rating = 7

There were three singers before Henrins Rolly joined the fiesta; the first was Johnny Bob Goldstein (or Keith Morris, if you're into them boring "real names"), who sounds here like a drunken 16-year-old (and probably was, actually). S'okay. The first two songs are fantastic rollicking punker classics, but the next two don't move at all. Don't matter none. Keith soon quit to form the Circle Jerks.

Reader Comments
Keith Morris is a bunghole; he hit me! (Jennifer Allen)
One of their best, 'Nuff said. Besides, Henry sucks.
Nervous Breakdown is their 2nd best 7 inch.
They went straight down the shitter after Keith left. (Layne Browning)
Nervous Breakdown was one of the hardest 45's of its time. A very unique sound. A genre starter as well as a riot starter. Essential!
Morris was trying to do a Johnny Rotten impersonation. (Jason Penick)
"Nervous Breakdown" is still one of the four or five best Black Flag songs of all time, and "Fix Me" and "Wasted" are up there too. This ep is the blueprint for Black Flag (up until Damaged, anyway) and a million lesser bands. Definately a 10/10.
An excellent EP with a couple of classic songs on there. Too bad Keith Morris left, he's probably the best sounding vocalist Black Flag had. (Chris Collins)
Amazing guitar sound. Maybe the most direct, assaultive rhythm guitar ever recorded. Your Ramones comparison might hold with regards to Jealous Again, but Johnny Ramone never strangled out power chords that sound like their sole reason for existence is to kill you, as Greg did on "Fix Me".
You guys might know this already but you can get the EP Nervous Breakdown on CD now. I found it at a store. (James L. Tichenor)
What the heck? This is the most awesome punk single of all time. Where did the Johnny Rotten impersonation shtick come from? Keith Morris is way angrier and better than rottenface. And Ginn gets the most wicked tones. I cover all these songs in my band when we need to get energized. I say get drunk and blast this record louder than fuck.
This would have to be Black Flag's second best achievement. Keith Morris was a good singer for them.He had that,"fuck it" additude.Overall,the songs were simple and fun. (Keith Morris is Black Flag's 2nd best singer!)
The Circle Jerks version of "Wasted" is much better. (Brion Briggsh)
I have black flag's first four ep's on one vinal and the first (nervous breakdown) is easily the best. How Pringle could say that WASTED "doesn't move at all" is mind bogling!! This is at least on par with the other songs (i personnaly like it the best.) Keith Morris is way better than any other black flag singer I've ever heard. This EP slaughters anything else i've heard by black flag........I still can't beleive you don't like WASTED!!!
No, ALL! the songs are decent, 'Wasted' *does* move - in a sludgy sloppy rockin' way. Yeah, "I've Had It" cops the riff from "53rd & 3rd" but that's forgivable for their 1st 7", it's all good! (Barrett Barnard)
maybe one of the best pieces of american rock n roll ever can tell they like the sex pistols,the ramones,and the stooges but the way flag does it is just beyond the words im writing right now mainly cuz i suck at writing.fucking a greg ginn.fucking a.

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Jealous Again ep - SST 1980.
rating = 9

Keith's replacement was Chavo Pederast (or Ron Reyes, if you're into them roaring "bill gates"), who was from Puerto Rico, but liked to live in America. He sounds like the boy next door on these numbers; luckily, the boy next door sounds alright. Not dorky or mean - just ALRIGHT! And the guitar melodies on this baby are just splendifferous. Two points and eight miles higher than those there on the last ep. If you wanna see this era of Black Flag in all their glorious valum, rent the hilarious moving picture The Decline Of Western Civilization. Good mover. Ron quit soon 'cuz he's a weirdo.

Reader Comments (Jennifer Allen)
Jealous Again is my fav.
This is the best record ever.
The best black flag right here yo! Fuckin Chavo rules!!! "Revenge" is probably one of the best songs ever!--fuck yeah i love this album. (Layne Browning)
Incredible. With a change of vocalists for their first 4 records it is amazing that they stuck to their guns and continued to release such kick ass songs.
Awesome- A band at the top of their their game.
Its a shame that they didn't bother making a full length album with songs of this quality, and a vocalist to match. Brilliant EP. (James L. Tichenor)
this ep, though not sporting the rage of Morris, still kicks ass cuz its chavo, one crazy motherfucker. Jealous Again has to have probably the most wicked guitar playing ever, that solo is so.... chuck berry of all things! (Paul Stewardson)
Absolutely amazing. Ron Reyes is a fantastic singer. The song "Jealous Again" is about the purest example of punk you will ever find.
Jealouse again is Black Flag's best acheivement. That Puetorican singer was their best singer. He had feeling and hell,he was good. (Too bad he quit and was replaced by that awful,terrible,lousy singer with no feeling named Dez Cadena!)These songs are the best.Gregg Ginn executed killer riffs ....although his solos are a little wacky in this.But his solos were good. (unlike most of his solos!)The over all sound is perfect or almost perfect!
Greg Ginn is an aquired taste. Just read all the postings on this Black Flag page and you get almost an equal amount of "he sucks" (Prindle) to "he great" (my cousin). I'm in between, so I guess that makes me a biGinnual. Greg came up with some great punk riffs and then, like any real punk, he threw it out the window and started some weird jazz metal direction that alienated a lot of the fan base.

This e.p. contains some of Greg's best playing with the title track sporting one of the best guitar riffs in American punk history. There were a lot of SoCal punk bands around during this time and "Jealous Again" valted the Flag above the fray. But take out Greg's playing and you've got just another typical punk band from L.A. Goes by too quick to give it a ten on its own, but adding onto the end of the "Damaged" cd doesn't knock that landmark from a ten either.
This is *NOT* just Ramones-influenced punk - listen to those atonal leads and nanosecond attention span length half riffs (esp. on the title track)! The songwriting's friggin' weird and interesting and experimental... This record definitely pushed the boundaries of guitar playing and rock songwriting much like Dylan's "Another Side Of Bob" in its day! Some of the lyrics are so bad it's laughable "I won't beat you up and push you around cuz if I do then the cops'll get me for doing it!" har har! Or "I've got no values I might as well blow you away!" Ha ha ho ho he he! Take 'em with a grain of salt! All in all it's an interesting record.
You can say what you will...but how can you be from NYC and not have "Dead Boys", or "Johnny Thunders" reviews. I saw both of them in New Yawk in the late '80's and early '90's.Also, you sit there and jerk off the Ramones all day long but you won't review the albums that count.Richard hell?! Whatever.

That said, Keith Morris is a prick but one of THE great rock vocalists. Gimme a break Prindle, ya half cocked son of a sewer rat!!! Start reviewin' !

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The First Four Years - SST 1983.
rating = 9

All of the officially-released pre-Rollins product contained within one fantastic little thingy. It's got them last two eps, so I won't say poop re them. Then it's got a bunch o' stuff featuring their third singer, Dez Cadena, who sounds very Rollins-esque. In fact, a lesser-schooled punk rocker might very well confuse the two. Real angry and gruff. But supposedly, he threw his voice out about five minutes into every live show, so he had to be relegated to silent second guitar duty (which he soon left to form the crappy metal band DC3).

These songs, though, are good. Greg and original bassist Chuck Dukowski wrote most of the songs, and they had the right idea. Keep the songs simple, short, fast, catchy, and threatening. Great punk titles abound - "I've Had It," "Wasted," "No Values," "Revenge," "You Bet We've Got Something Personal About You." Real enjoyable, Henry or no. I'll give it....oh, let's see. Oh....hmm.....I don't know...Who knows, you know? I mean, it's good! You know? Oh......


Reader Comments
This is a good tape. (Sick Boy)
Quite possibly one of the best punk albums in my collection. (Chris Collins)
This is the definitive early Black Flag collection. The songs that made 'em (in)famous. Buy this and Damaged and try to forget the other records exist. (James L. Tichenor)
man, your looking at one of the most angry, confusing, catchy, disturbed albums of all time. this is a great compilation.
This album over all kicks ass,except those songs sung by that Dez Cadena! Talk about an awful singer! Dez was boring! He sounded like a zombie! He was definately Black Flag's worst singer! But the riffs in those songs aren't bad. I'm just gald Dez was replaced by a better singer.
Buy along with "Everything Went Black" (see the comments for that album)
The Dez songs let this one down. His voice is too annoying and the guitar playing is weak too. Machine is just a bad song and Damaged I is ruined because Dez is clearly singing "damudge" instead of damaged. It's worth getting if you don't want to get the eps separately but Everything Went Black is far better.
There's only one thing you need to know about the "Nervous Breakdown" EP, and that is that it's one of the greatest punk EP's ever released by anyone at any time. Greg Ginn's guitar tone on this first release is so massive, brutal, and crunchy that it sounds kind of like Godzilla eating Doritos, except more melodic and more aggressive. Chuck Dukowski and Brian Migdol (who only played drums on this release) are a perfect punk rhythm section, and Keith Morris never, ever sang better than this except on certain songs from "Group Sex": Morris sounds like a bored, pissed off, drunk and possibly insane 17-year-old bellowing in such an exaggeratedly snotty voice that you figure it has to be a put-on, and then it suddenly hits you that he's sincere. It's brilliant. Four short songs worth of postadolescent frustration and aggression so well-expressed that the band would have trouble ever portraying it so well again, "Nervous Breakdown" is epochal L.A. punk and was almost certainly the best Black Flag release before "Damaged."

Brian Migdol was kicked out of the band for the capital crime of never wanting to rehearse (a sure way to sign your death warrant in Black Flag: the band's rehearsals were notorious for their exhausting length and frequency), and Keith Morris left after a drug-induced freakout, so Ginn and Dukowski (who ran the band together from this point until 1983 or so) hired Colombian immigrant Roberto Valverde, aka Robo, on drums (so-called because he barely moved while playing and set up all his drums to be perfectly upright), and Puerto Rican-American teen Ron Reyes on vocals. To be frank, Reyes' vocals kill the "Jealous Again" EP for me; it's not a popular opinion to have, but to me, Reyes just sounded like any other potential hardcore teen: kind of charismatic, but not overwhelmingly so, kind of angry, but not really, and kind of intense...but not really. Ginn's guitar tone also changed drastically from the Keith Morris era: instead of flat-out crushing you, the guitar tone now sounds just kind of like any other punk guitar, and the rhythm section seemed to have trouble gelling a little on this release; the band feels a little stiff and far less intense on this EP, overall. While Reyes helped as much as anyone to make Black Flag popular among the L.A. hardcore bands of the time, the "Jealous Again" EP doesn't do all that much for me. The best song is "Revenge"; it took some serious balls to bait the LAPD as blatantly as the band did on this track, and the performance is stellar. Also, check out Chuck Dukowski's hilarious ranting on "You Bet I've Got Something Personal Against You!", which was an attack on Keith Morris for stealing Black Flag songs for the Circle Jerks.

Reyes left after having a weird minor mental breakdown caused by not eating right and drinking way too much, so his friend Dez Cadena, who'd originally wanted to play rhythm guitar for the band while Reyes was singing, found himself in the position of being lead vocalist for one of the most popular hardcore bands on the West Coast. I believe that it's generally agreed upon that the band's popularity reached its absolute peak with Cadena on vocals, which is odd to me because, while Cadena sounds fine, and certainly suits the band's material, he's not the best Black Flag vocalist to my ears. He often sounds strained, and like he's "performing", rather than screaming his lungs out at you. And indeed, he was strained: shitball PA systems in those days meant that Cadena had to scream his fucking lungs out over the band's earsplitting racket, and combined with his heavy smoking habit, this meant that his voice started becoming totally shredded about ten minutes into every show. Cadena's voice problems eventually led him to want to switch back to rhythm guitar again, which eventually led to the hiring of Mr. Rollins... Anyway, Cadena's singing was often charismatic and gruff, and sounded truly awesome on the best material this period had to offer (like "Clocked In," "American Waste" and "Louie Louie," the garage-band classic, which features some of the most entertaining lead guitar playing of Ginn's career). The guitar tone on this material sounds better than it did on "Jealous Again," although it's still not up to the golden standard of the "Nervous Breakdown" EP. The band as a whole feels much tighter and more like a unit than they did on "Jealous Again," and Greg's playing is starting to get more and more interestingly weird throughout: on "Six Pack" he sounds like any other barre-chord thrashing hardcore guitarist (but I'll remind you that Ginn was helping to define hardcore guitar style with this song), but on "I've Heard It Before" he sticks on a really bizarre introduction that consists of two "wrong" notes repeated over and over again, while Dez lets out one of the funniest, most entertainingly idiotic rants ever captured on a hardcore release. "Damaged I" had already been written at this point, and while Dez's version is interesting, it comes not even within a mile's distance of Rollins' take on the album that was to come.

These EP's, for better or for worse, helped make hardcore what it was, and from a historical standpoint at least, they are absolutely required listening for anyone who wants to know anything about hardcore.

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Everything Went Black - SST 1982.
rating = 9

All the never-before-released pre-Rollins product - 24 songs (six of which are "Gimme Gimme Gimme" and "Depression") and about fifteen minutes of hilarious radio promotions for early live shows. Often your critics will pan this release, but not me. Yeah, it's got every song about three times, but they're great songs! I don't mind hearing "Police Story" and "Clocked In" twice! What kind of fool would? Point me at 'im!!!! I'll pop his kisser in the mouth!!! And what about all those soon-to-be-Damaged-tracks sung by Dez? Man, they's the cliff krapp! And "I Don't Care?," soon to be stolen by Keith Morris to be used as a Circle Jerks song (prompting Black Flag to reuse the music in a very personal attack on Keith on the Jealous Again ep)? Yeah, it's all outtakes, but with punk songs this memorable, outtakes is all you, the listener, need.

And take notice of how strange the melodies become near the end. This was the era in which Greg started to realize that there were actually other ways to play the guitar besides just thrashing out barre chords really fast (not that there's anything wrong with thrashing out barre chords really fast; it's pretty much all I do!). I'd buy it if I didn't already own it.

But if I didn't already own it, how would I know that it was so good, I would want to buy it???

I know! I could just read about it on my site here!!!!

Ooooh! But it wouldn't even BE on my site if I didn't own it! Foiled again!!!

Reader Comments (Mark Shaffer)
This is truly an awesome collection that every Black Flag fan should own. It shows that the band was just as awesome before Henry got there. Several versions of songs, such as "Jealous Again," have not been performed better since. Truly, I believe that band to be even better before Rollins got there, but this is very arguable.
my favorite black flag album. it kicks ass in a million different ways.
this is an absolute neccesity for all Punk Rock fans. The commercials are worth the price of admission by themselves. And there's a great "history" of Black Flag on the back cover.
don't listen to mark on this one. this album is rendered completely unnecessary by the FAR superior First Four Years. I DO mind hearing a bunch of these songs over and over again. and they are not played all that well, either, save for the last five songs. don't get it. keith morris' version of "gimme gimme gimme" is the worst piece of crap black flag has ever done, and that's including "Slip It In"!!!
I would definitely have to say that this is one of the three essential CD's that are mandatory for anyone who claims to be into punk or hardcore... The others being the First Four Years, and the best of all, DAMAGED. If I remember right, the band had totally recorded the Jealous Again EP with Kieth on vocals, but then re-recorded it with Chavo because Kieth quit the band... Everything Went Black contains all of the Jealous Again songs with Kieth on vocals. I have to agree with a lot of you that Kieth was the best of Black Flag's frontmen... Although Henry Garfield (his real name) would take the cake if they kept spewing out brilliant stuff in the vein of Damaged...

The Johnny Bob songs on Everything Went Black are definitely the highlight of the disc for me, although the rest of it is also worth listening to, ESPECIALLY the "crass commercialism" track, the 18 minutes or so of radio commercials for Black Flag shows and records... One of the coolest additions that they could have ever thought of to tack onto the end of a punk record. This is definitely a record everyone should own. (Chris Collins)
This is ok, but overrated. First, the numerous repeated songs don't make this good for slapping on the 'table. Second, the sound quality blows - Greg's guitar is just this squalling sound in the background on half the tracks.. too muted, no roar (check out Dez's "jealous again" to hear how they should sound). Third, less focused.. listening to this mainly makes me want to listen to Damaged instead. The fourth side is amusing however, along with Spot's zany liner notes.
Rated too high, but Goddamn it, I get a kick out of it. Besides the essential Damaged and the must-have First Four Years, this one rates just a notch above "another disappointing Black Flag album." I understand the logistics of this release, but the same songs repeated over and over make it as redundant as proclaiming that "TV Party" is your favorite Flag tune. What saves it? The commercials, of course! In addition to being funnier than anything Andrew Dice Clay ever did, they also provide a documentary of the band's '80/'81 struggles. Creepy crawl to this one, brothers and sisters.
Buy this along with "The First Four Years", and sort out the tracks so you have:
* The Keith Morris Album (Black Flag 1.0)
* The Chavo Album (V2.0)
* The Dez Album (v3.0)
and enjoy (kinda like FINALLY hearing the Misfits first album Static Age in its proper sequence 17 yrs after the fact, or the Beach Boys 'Smile' !) ANYWAY, all 3 versions of the band have different things to offer. Sure some versions of the songs are better than others, but that's what makes it fun!

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TV Party 7" - SST 1981
rating = 8

Another record, another singer. Henry Garfield, former frontman for Washington D.C. Dischord band S.O.A., made the move to L.A. specifically to join his favorite punk band so Dez Cadena could move to second guitar. And join he did, adopting a brand new surname to distinguish himself from America's favorite "fat cat."

So the newly christened Henry Snoopy made his debut rec

This three-song single features the truly funny anthemic dumb-guy parody "TV Party" ("Don't talk about anything else - we don't wanna know! We're dedicated to our favorite shows!"), along with two awesomely headbashing, brain-disintegrating dual-guitar blast attacks of angst and rebellion called "I've Got To Run" and "My Rules." "TV Party" ended up making the jump to Damaged (see below) but in my opinion, it's the slightly lesser of the three tracks. I mean, it's catchy and good for a chuckle, but is that really what you're looking for from America's so-called hardest hardcore band?

If so, you GOTTA hear this Barenaked Ladies album - it's hilarious!

Reader Comments
"I've Got to Run" is one of the most menacing tracks I've ever heard.

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* Damaged - SST 1981. *
rating = 10

Rollins makes his full-length debut with a yelp and a scream. A 45-minute scream. It's difficult to believe he wasn't born with this thundering speed noise behind him, he sounds so darn at home retching out lines like "I don't wanna live! I wish I was dead!" and "Depression! It's gonna kill me!" Harnessing a brand new colorless and hoarse-beyond-belief yell attack, Henry "Rollie" Rollins "Fingers" absorbs himself completely into Greg Ginn's newly-psychotic pain-oriented hardcore and, with Ginn's guitar work at its finest here, the crap is awfully compelling. The guitar just thrashes out screaming fits of relentlessly ugly rage, like an air raid siren gone haywire or an old man gone to Florida for a quiet weekend.

And those lyrics, hooeee. These words paint the portrait of a truly sick young gent. His mind spits and spurts, like a bunch of loose electrical wires snapping around looking for a connection - anything to keep from falling completely over the edge and crashing to the ground. I mixed three different metaphors in one sentence. Thanks for not smoking my sausage. Oh ho sure, the humor of "Six Pack" and "TV Party" try to lighten the mood, but there's just no lightening a mood created by songs like "Depression," "No More," "Life Of Pain," and "Damaged (Parts I and II)." An unbelievably great punk record and far from "generic," as the Spin Record Guide so sillily calls it. No hardcore bands were this darned emotional. Even though the emotions are pretty much limited to hatred and self-loathing, it still comes across as incredibly REAL, thanks to Mr. Rollins. It kinda grabs you and pulls you in - until the very end of the record when the guitar noise suddenly disappears, concluding a 45-minute psychotherapy session with a midtempo drum line and a barely-intelligible Rollins rasping "Nobody comes in! Damage. My damage. NO ONE COMES IN! STAY OUT!!!!"

Wow. Or "wos," as I accidentally typed the first time. Without self-reference, there is no enlightenment. And just so you know what you're getting yourself into, the album cover features a harrowing shot of Rollins staring sullenly at his bald reflection in the mirror, barely visible through the web of cracks he has just created with his right fist. Damage.... Enjoy it. It was their heyday. And now it's time for a Payday!

Reader Comments (Jennifer Allen)
Rollins' only good material but definitely not the flag's best.
This is their best long play record.
Damaged (especially side 2) is one of the most brutal, honest, emotional pieces of music I've ever heard.
Damaged has to be my favorite album ever. Nothing can compare to Henry`s primal shriek the whole way through. (not Peter Nicholson)
My first and only Black Flag album (for the moment!) Rad! I love it! Rollins kicks ass. Bill Stevenson is a good drummer, but, he is a fucken homophobe - check out the lyrics to his other band, ALL's tune "Hetero" - "Maybe I should pierce my butt, or get a few tattoos, or maybe I should wear a dress and be a homo like you..." This cannot be justified. Fight Homophobia! (Layne Browning)
Probably the best rock and roll album of all time. It lags in parts, and takes some chances ("Damaged 1+2," "No More") but "Rise Above" and "Life Of Pain" are completely flawless examples of rock at its best.
Truly a classic. Rollins sounds like the punk rock Charles Manson. But the Noise/Jazz influence starts to be evident. The band should have called it quits right after this one. (Kristin)
you are on the money mr prindle! i'm sitting here in london trying to write a book about henry rollins (out next year on orion books - watch out for it!) and wrestling with metaphors to describe the damaged sound, the sheer overload of it, and i find you have already been down that road and come up with some goodies. you might be interested to know that part of that overload effect was due to the fact that the songs were originally written for ONE guitar but were recorded with two - Dez having just moved from vocals to guitar - unlike the my war or slip it in material which was written w/Dezzo in the band as super-heavy dual guitar stuff and then recorded without him as pure twisted Ginn-musings. Tapes do exist of flag doing all this stuff w/two guitars and the mighty Chuck Biscuits on drums - its unreleased but i got to hear it and it is fucking RAMPANT, way superior to the sound on my war. see, i HAVE been doing my research.
This album is one of the greatest in rock music history. (Andy McKim)
This has to be the best punk album ever. It's a masterpiece by a genius, Henry Rollins. (Johanna Cole)
How many times has this record saved my ass. DAMAGED i AM,thanx BLACK FLAG.
Shit, this is one of the classic punk albums of all time! Although Rollins wasn't as good as the previous singers, this album is brilliant. Sometimes I wonder what the album would have sounded like with Keith or Chavo. It would have been the best album of all time. There's no doubt that this album is pure genius. Greg Ginn showed that he had really mastered the guitar with all the different noises he gets out of it. Excellent songs, pure anger and energy. 10/10. If you haven't got it, what are you doing reading this section.
Incredibly powerful punk statement! Man, if it weren't so depressing at times though. Sheesh, listening to 'What I see' and 'Depression' really puts a damper on my day. But songs like 'Rise Above' and 'Tv Party' MAKE my day. The former being how I feel about being in the military and the latter how I spend most of my time! Those songs are DEFinitely ME! (deinet.bayley)
What the hell is your problem ?ive read some peoples comments on this, the greatest of all hardcore bands,and their pissing me off! you wankers should be beaten to death with your "Nervous Breakdown" 7"s! sure its an awesome band, but how can you dickheads bash DAMAGED!!!! its the greatest HARDCORE album of all fucking time! these songs have more meaning than anything else of their time!wake the fuck up, wankers!!!! (Chris Collins)
One of the best albums ever. Dense, psychotic, more on the edge than anything, so much so it took me a long time to get into. A great document of an era, captured precisely at both Black Flag's time in the sun and hardcore's peak moment ('81). The first side is anthemic and humorous is spots, but the second side heats the hell up with the explosive "Depression", going straight for the jugular of Greg's emotional "damage". Henry has enough of the same baggage to make it sound utterly convincing. The album wouldn't be the same without the dude, though it pains me to admit it! "Damaged II" has Greg's best guitar work ever, him wrenching out disturbing lead guitar lines that ALL sound like someone's fucking mind coming apart. Fuck Slayer and all that satanic bullshit. THIS is scary because it's REAL. Also, the beginning of "No More", with just a single thudding bass note gradually picking up steam while the band can be heard breathing and waiting to explode in the silence is one intense, eerie moment. Henry's deranged screaming plus Ginn's schizophrenic guitar lines on top of Dezo's solid rhythms make for a masterpiece. (Mike Semcheski)
This album is boring. Sure Rollins is at his yellingist and screamingest, and sure Gregg Ginn is playing straight punk instead of sludge metal. Its too far over the wall, to me it just sounds whiny. Not depressed, not even really angry. "They hate us, we hate them, we can't win". My War had some twisted shit on it. In My Head seemed pretty pissed off. Damaged is just kind of "come on, was it really ever THAT bad?" (Ben Trissel)
The Spin Record Guide is for the poop. Saw Black Flag Circa '82 at the Rainbow in DenCo. Original Line up with Hank in Shorts saying "Mirror Mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" And when the crowd shouts out "Henry!" HE retorts, "No, Boy George, you a**Holes!" Damaged damaged me in my youth and remains spinning on my turntable even in my cranky thirties. (Nita358)
Some idiots don't realize what hardcore is. Hardcore isn't just yelling and unintelligibility. Most hardcore bands are formless and worthless, but Damaged is more than all of the rest of the pack. this disc shows how Flag was able to separate themselves from the rest. (James L. Tichenor)
i agree that this is rollins best performance but not the bands. Anyone who thought that rollins "was" the band is a fucking moron. he didnt write lyrics, he didnt write music, he didnt even have the voice for the music and thats all he did. Fuck you ppl who think he "was" black flag. he even admits that he probably brought the band down. (Andrew Pazulla)
Musically awesome, with a much needed sense of humour. True punk. (patty)
when i heard damaged the first time i realized i wasnt the only one who felt this way
Even you know Dez was replaced by a singer that's 100 times better than his lousy ass, this album sounds like shit! It has to be Black Flag's worst studio album! I don't understand why everyone loves this album so much! The songs sound like shit! Henry is my 3rd favorite singer for Black Flag. He's good.But not on this album!!! Yes, they have captured that"sick,twisted,skitzo, depressed guy, gone mad sound" but the songs sound like noise instead of music! The first songs I ever wrote on guitar and sang are 100 times better than this crap! (and I wrote some lousy songs at first!) It does have only one good song on it though. T.V. party! That song is one of Black Flag's best. But the rest of the album is just too embarassing to listen to! It's Black Flag's sadest achievement! (Donna Sidleau)
Damaged was a hardcore punk/thrash album, it was their landmark album and has their best song(Rise Above). But Loose Nut is absolutely incredible, this is like a mix of old skool black flag, black sabbath, the Misfits, and a very creepy sense of insane intensity roams throughout. But even more amazing was a problem that had always plagued black flag- clean production, has been eliminated completely. This album sounds crystal clean and loud as hell. And Greg Ginn is a genious guitarist, especially with his creepy solos.

Brian Hyndman
In later years, the Flag seemed to go out of their way to disown Damaged. They steadfastly refused to play any songs off the album at their live performances, and Henry Rollins went out of his way to physically and verbally abuse the poor, unwary fans screaming for an impromptu version of ‘Rise Above’ or ‘TV Party’. I always found this odd, given that Damaged is far and away their best work. My own theories? 1) pent-up frustration over their record company’s refusal to release the album (which resulted in Black Flag’s living in poverty and being unable to do a promotional tour that could have netted them major $$), or 2). the depressing realization that they were unable to top Damaged, and it was all downhill from the moment the LP hit the record stores. Sadly, this turned out to be the case.
An album that has it all: brutal truth, humor, pain, and timeless performances. Damaged is one of those landmark albums that will continue to be referenced and studied for years to come, or at least until SST succumbs to financial ruin and this title falls out of print. Grab it now before it happens. I've heard that SST is running so low on cash these days that they're having a hard time keeping even bread and butter catalog titles from Minutemen and Husker Du on the shelves.

There are too many postings here that either miss the point entirely or give props/throw stones at this line-up without knowing what's what. The Damaged era band was literally thrown together and let's get a few things straight. Ginn had most of the arrangements and lyrics down before the tape started rolling. Cheers then, to Greg and the boys for providing the weapon. Who brought the ammunition? A young fan called Hank steps in at the last minute and not only understands how to deliver Ginn's material, but makes you feel like he's fucking lived it. Pretty remarkable for someone who probably just learned the lyrics three weeks prior to stepping foot on Redondo Beach pavement.

Because I'm old, I can't really say how this record effects younger rock fans in much the same way they can explain why a band like, say Korn, doesn't effect me. I'd take to the grave that over half the shit a 17 year old rock fan listens to owes more to Black Flag than they'll ever know or care to admit. What I can say is how this record effected me and many others around the time it was a new release. The first attraction came to the tunes that made us laugh: "TV Party," "Six Pack," "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie." Then we started to notice the Flag's landscape: "Rise Above," "Police Story," "Spray Paint." And finally, as we got older, the mental state of these outcasts: "What I See," "Room 13," "Depression," "Damaged 1 + 2." The older you got, the more this album made sense. It took time, and (his age shows) kids today just want that instant gratification which may be the reason why kids hear from someone how incredible this album is, buy it, and then wonder what all the fuss was about. Someone under the age of 21, please post something now about how this album has changed your life and restore my faith in rock's youth. I urge you to prove my conceptions about your generation wrong. All I have to go on is what I read. I don't hang out with many of 'em. The last 17 year olds I met ran over my young red maple tree because they were too drunk to navigate the corner, left their totalled car on my lawn and ran away like a bunch of pussies. I did what any fan of Hank, Greg, Robo, Chuck, and Dez would do: I went looking for their dumb asses with my flashlight and my fist around the neighborhood for fucking with my world. Stay out!!

For those of us who were looking for something other than Genesis' Abacab to listen to, Black Flag was a band that was (rightfully) frightening. The L.A.P.D. actually targeted these motherfuckers on a regular basis. Oh sure, you hear about an overzealous religious leader throwing a fit whenever Marilyn Manson comes within 100 miles of their congregation and tries to get the city council to ban one or two shows. With the Flag, this shit was happening repeatedly, on a weekly basis, in their own fucking hometown. And when you're already barely surviving on live shows for sustenance this means no income, kids, and that's real life. It's not about being without enough cash to buy Max Payne for your PS2, it's about not having enough change to survive. Black Flag were as close as you can get to a homeless band, and I use the word "home" lightly because the reality was their hometown took every step they could to deport all of them. Damaged tells you this story and that's why, when I read a posting that states "Its too far over the wall, to me it just sounds whiny" I want to deplete the poster's bank account, prevent them from making a living, have the local cops follow them around watching their every move, and throw a cup of urine on their face just for shits and giggles. In answer to that poster's question: " Damaged is just kind of 'come on, was it really ever THAT bad?'" Yeah buddy, it was...
his is in response to someone who wanted somebody under the age of 21 to talk abt this record.Im 16, and this record owns me, this is the music I feel a personal connection towards. Hardcore is where its at for me, bad brains (wheres there reviews?) the misfits even a little minor threat- its the most powerful and original music I know of that never got any sales. From the second I heard gregs opening guitar on six pack(my personal favourite) and rise above on some punk special I saw on tv then heard the more than brilliant life of pain on a cd my brother made, i immediately picked up my axe and started writing tunes to help me capture the fact that this music so perfectly defines many of my inner feelings. I cant even fathom how so many of my peers can listen to that radio friendly unit shifter crap they do. Ill chalk it up to not wanting their music to challenge and effect them as deeply as this does to me (I also give creedence to the fact that when all the brillliant nu metal crap that keeps hemmorraging out claimed their hearts and minds I was going through a serious led zeppelin/who phase and couldnt be bothered) this record is an amazing musical testament, and the fact that it can have this impact on someone 20 years later still proves this point. So if theres anyone my age out there who feels even remotely close to my feelings about this, post it. And if you live in the flint area, lets start a band. (Barrett Barnard)
this is a really good album by a really creative's a damn shame that about a billion bands since have done nothing but rip off this album.

in my opinion its the best metal album of the 80s.yes i said metal because this album really is a metal album. go listen to "paranoid" and tell me this album isnt really just a more pissed off and much more excelerated version of that.then go listen to the sex pistols album or the ramones first record and tell me who it sounds like more.

this is the true birth of hardcore.and lets not forget that hardcore is just one version of punk rock as michael azzerad pointed out in the liner notes to meat puppets 2.the guitar playing by greg ginn is anything but simplistic.henry rollins voice is about as raw as raw gets.the rythmn section is strong especially the bass player charles dukowski.or is it bukowski? whichever one isnt the beat writer.but anyway its a great songs:rise party,six pack,damaged I,and depression.
No argument to anyone who loves this record, it is what it is, in all its greatness. That said, can anyone appreciate what was gained when Iggy remixed the Stooges' "Raw Power" a few years back? From a technical standpoint, the power of the band just isn't captured on this recording - and maybe, hopefully, it's the mix. It sure ain't the performances that are lacking, they're over the top. But listen to the audio for the Target Video recording of "Rise Above" and you will hear a big difference. That version sounds like a 100 megaton bomb - the version on the Damaged album sounds like it was recorded on a walkman in mom's bedroom (and if that's "punk" enuff for you, more power to ya, this record should keep you happy for a long long time. If anything it's proof a great record can be recorded with inexpensive equipment.) For myself though, an audiophile bitch always curious to hear a new angle on a great thing, I'd love to hear this record remixed as cleanly as possible, to bring out the performances more, with the guitars panned to stereo (Dez hard left, Ginn hard right, or vice versa, depending on the desired halves of the brain we wanna burn) and a fatter bottom end. You can't commercialize this record, the performances are what they are, so we only have to gain here. The old SST catalog described this record as "Fueled by the twin guitars of..." so lettuce remix this so we can actually HEAR two (2) guitars! Until then I'm just gonna have to be happy with the Target Video version of Rise Above and try to dig up other bootlegs! Now, one thing I never did understand about this record, and what I consider to be the major flaw of the album, was Henry singing "Six Pack". For a guy who supposedly hated drinking so much, why would he sing this? That's not "integrity"! And it doesn't hold a candle to the Dez version. "Room 13" is another one done better by the previous line-up. But god bless 'em, this still is a kickin record, though Greg oughta give it a make-over an remix it. (Sam)
You wanna know how good this album is? It’s so good not even Mr. Pringle could bring himself to call it ‘Rammaged’ by Spack Slag. If you want one of the most groundbreakingly, suicidally intense hardcore records ever made, then get this. I didn't like it that much at first, but it really grows on you. Not like the second half of 'My War.' 'Scream' and 'Nothing Left Inside' get shitter every time I try to listen to them. The idea of taking sweet Black Flag songs, then making the poor fans sit through what feels like a six minute guitar solo? Who the fuck thought of that?
You can hear dual guitars at certain points on the album if you listen REALLY closely, and the solos on "Thirsty and Miserable" sound like two different players, but Spot seemingly did mix Ginn a little too much into the forefront for a two-guitar outfit. The album could definitely benefit from a remix and current mastering technology but it's still their best full-length and easily light years ahead of anything else that was released at the time. Also the last album with Dukowski, whose ouster had much more to do with Black Flag "sucking" after Henry joined than Rollins' presence, as many are wont to say.

Wow. Or "woq", as I typed accidentally the first time.

I am such a dick.

Yes, boys and girls, I made some rather nasty remarks about Black Flag on the Smashing Pumpkins page. That's because all I'd listened to from this band was The First Four Years--the only Black Flag album currently available in my local music store, and if I'm not mistaken, their highest-seller on CD. Basically, it sounded to me like the worst Ramones simpleton complexes blended together and spurted out in minute-long fragments.

I have a confession to make. I'm not much of a fan of punk rock as a whole. Two years ago, following George Starostin's lead, I decided to take a peek at the original "classics." I was not impressed by what I saw. The Ramones, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Dead Kennedys, DOOKIE. . . this did not strike me as the music that had "saved" rock and roll. This struck me as a stultifying, delimiting straightjacket in which good production, craft, and anything outside drums and jagged guitars spitting out four or five chords in the most simple, sloppy manner possible was considered "Not Cool" and "Corporate Fag-ism." Guh?

It pained me to find out that all the music I liked post-1976 was considered "bourgeois" by the rock establishment and university English departments across the Western World. I could not believe that simple, half-assed "revoultions" (The Ramones), underwritten slop-a-thons (Never Mind the Bollocks), lighweight garage funtimes (The Clash), and extended "Blitzkrieg Bop" rewrites (Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables) were landmarks of "the only good music out there since the Beatles." This angered me, and nearly turned me off to the genre forever.

Yeah, I hated punk rock for a while.

And then I heard this. . .

Damaged. The first grunge album. Proof that musicality is alive and well in the punk world.


This is the most viscerally frightening record I've ever heard. The Downward Spiral can't touch this, Antichrist Superstar can't fathom it, and Korn's debut, as terrifying as it is, runs straight into a wall when faced with the anger, despair, and turmoil that is this 35-minute (not 45-minute-- though that would be nice) noise-a-thon. It's what you've got when all the snottiness, jokiness, good times, and barre chords are sucked dry out of punk's gleefully adolescent shell, and all you've got left is rage, hopelessness, and bass-heavy power chords, not to mention probably the most painful-sounding guitar feedback and aural destruction yet captured on vinyl. If you're as sick as I am of all the smirky humor and off-the-cuff filler goofballness of stereotypical "punk" culture, this will come as a breath of fresh (or should I say foul?) air. Apparently the powers that be tried to ban this record when it came out in '81, and I can certainly see why--there's no way in hell this music could be misinterpreted as irony. This is deadly serious, deadly disturbing, and--well, just DEADLY as a whole. The record that probably saved punk rock from fading into obscurity-- grunge would not exist without it.

Best song on the album? "No More"--that dramatic minute-long bass intro, one of the greatest examples of the quiet-LOUD transition I've ever heard.

Buy it if you're pissed off. I know I certainly am. DAMN those Blue Valley parents!!
As far as which singer is best, I really like each era for what it was. Nobody else could have pulled off the Nervous Breakdown EP like Morris did, and that record will always hold a special place in my heart. But come on, could you really hear anybody besides Henry doing the Damage stuff? Dez came close, but it wouldn't have been the same, wouldn't have had the same sense of desperation and self-loathing that it did with Rollins.

Oh, and to the guy who cites "Rise Above" as an indication of how he feels being in the military, I'm not quite sure he gets it. On the one hand, it's cool that he was able to get his own personal interpretation out of the lyrics and the sound, but on the other hand, the type of cop/soldier/authority mentality/brainwashing perpetuated by the military is one of the main themes that Flag railed against. Listen to "Police Story" if you don't buy it. The military is mind control, and that type of thing is exactly what the Flag was trying to "rise above."
I write music reviews for, a review free-for-all FRAG fest (I don't know what frag means) and I always happened to spell this album as "Damanged." See, the "n" in there? That's annoying, ain't it not?

I'm so tired. Oh yeah, this album... buhhhh. Blah.

Here's a couple words on what I think of it: Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

When I first heard this album, sorry to sound pathetically cliched, er, but I thought "wow, I can really relate to this."

You know, lyrics like "I WANNA LIVE! I WISH I WAS DEAD!" or something like that. I was really depressed at the time, so I could relate to all the drinking anthems. "Fuck yeah," I said, sobbing in my bed. "Six Pack. That's all I gotta say."

I've been a real drunk lately.

Anywhofucksville, Henry's voice is suitably shrill and whiney for such a noise-festival-time-thing. There's really only like, uh, five songs on here, and the rest is all this noise with tinny drums. I likez. Well, at least more than the stupid and HORRIBLE and BORING Sonic Youth album "Sonic Nurse." God that album blows. Really, can you think of anything more boring than THAT piece of shit? It kills me, how boring that thing is. Everytime I put it on I wanna take a sledgehammer and kill my hamster.

Or my foot. I wanna kill my foot.
After a few drinks, and after donning a nurse's outfit in preparation for a party (I swear), there's nothing better to do than post my second comment on Mr Prindle's website.

Truly, one of the defining moments not just in hardcore, but in punk in general. What can be said that's not been said before? Anyone who doesn't own this is a moron.

And great, now I'm the moron who sends a completely meaningless comment about how 'great this album is', although still better than the idiots who can't take a joke on the PiL page. Remind me next time to be sober and armed with something to say...

Peter Morgan
Best Rock'n'Roll album ever!

That is a big call and it can't possibly be correct because say what you will about this stuff, love it or hate it, it is certainly not Rock'n'Roll.

What seperates "Damaged" and indeed hardcore from most seventies punk is that all the rnb influences have been purged and all we are left with is sound and fury,lots of noise signifying nothing.

I listened to this album for the first time in more than twenty years today (god knows why I ever bought it, it's the only hardcore album I own)and the other thing that struck me is that the lyrics wallow in the most grating kind of juvenile self pity.When Rollins or whoever was penning these they should have taken a visit to an oncology ward to get some perspective.

This stuff is music for teenage boys who can't get girls but also can't fight and are desperate for an outlet, so I can't trash it to much as it serves a theraputic purpose.

Add your thoughts?

My War - SST 1983.
rating = 7

Following a two-year layoff (cuzza this court case against Unicorn Records, who refused to release Damaged, but didn't want Greg to release it either, the bastards), Black Flag returned, having lost both hardcore god drummer Robo (to The Misfits) and legendary punk bassist/songwriter Chuck Dukowski to...hmm? Some other SST band. I can't remember which one. SWA, maybe? So Greg and Henry replaced them with Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson and...Greg Ginn on bass. Yeth, it reads "Dale Nixon" on the album cover, but that's Greg Ginn. That's why the bass lines are perfectly identical to the guitar lines the entire album. Sigh.

Anyway - this is a dangerously weak follow-up, although not nearly as painful as others might tell you it is. The mix is weirdly bass-heavy and lo-fi at the same thyme, with so much guitar presence, you can hear Greg's line noise every time he isn't playing anything. Henry for the first time sounds like Henry, which is to say that he sounds like an angry screaming jock, not the emotionally-destroyed punk rock teen who screamed all over Damaged. And the melodies, hmmm.... The title track is a classic rocker, and the rest of side one alternates between fast punk and slow hokey stuff, all played with the lack of coherence and cohesion you might expect from a band that basically consists of two people. It's okay, but kinda dumb-sounding. "Can't Decide" has one of the most unique and enjoyable guitar lines in the history of hard rock, but unfortunately, Greg keeps playing crappy solos instead of the actual melody. The rest is so-so.

Side two, on your second hand, is comprised of three creeping mounds of sludge, straight from the nursery school recesses of Greg's currently Sabbath-obsessed cranium. Most people hate 'em, but I think they're cool - just simple dark bass lines played over and over again with horrid guitar solos and weird screaming piled on top, like poop on a strawberry sundae. Cool enough. Henry does sound angry, if a little directionless. In shorts, it's an interesting album. Probably more interesting than, say...GOOD. Whatever it was they were going for, they missed the mark entirely, but it's still strange enough to toss me a whangdang.

Reader Comments (Matthew Hargrove)
I could take or leave side one, but side two has got to be one of my all time favorite record sides. Three songs of sludge and despair! Best listened to at about three in the morning. "Nothing Left Inside" and "Three Nights" are bee-U-T-ful. (tHORAziNE)
My War really should have 10 points! (Layne Browning)
I really like this album. "Swinging Man," "I Love You," and "Can't Decide" hit hard.
When this came out and I heard it on the radio, I thought it was a piece of shit. Then I found out it was Black Flag and I couldn't believe they came out with such crap. At least their tailspin into mediocrity happened quick. Nothing else mattered after Damaged! (Loyd Salisbury)
"I Love You" is my favorite Rollins-ere song. (I used to hang out with Rollins when he was in SOA & "I love you" is similar to SOA's "girl problems.)
I don't think I would refer to Rollins as a "jock" He's far from it. (Johanna Cole)
this record is AWESOME, side two just fucks you up. i think i am dead after it ends. it KILLS. (Anton Starkovich)
My War is the first damn good album by the Flag. I for one, do not go out for weak sounding punk music (not to say this describes the old Flag, but they got dangerously close at times). The title track as well as the next three tracks rock, and "Scream" is just plain cool. I agree with Enforcer though, by referring to Rollins as a jock you only prove how little you know about him. I am not one of those who says Henry ruined the band, on the contrary, I think he saved it from a downward spiral into shitty punker music beginning here. (Dean Reis)
Henry is definately not a jock! listen to your bands before you review em!
i read somewhere that this album sounds so lo-fi and metal because flag had just toured with sst labelmates st. vitus, who based a whole career on playing tribute to sabbath's first 3 albums. flag was impressed with a band who had the balls to play s-l-o-w in front of all these spastic punkers. at least, this is what i heard. maybe they were influenced by flipper's deliberate snail-like pace as well. my war, especially the production and the infamous 2nd side, must have really infuriated a lot of fans at the time! also, it's now common knowledge that greg ginn and henry rollins (at least privately) admired sabbath. (Chris Collins)
The song "My War" is good, but that's about the only thing on here. This should've been released as a single, or not at all. The flip is one of the most boring sleep-inducing sides I've ever heard. Good rock is energizing like a jolt of speed, this is like shooting up heroin and collapsing on the floor. But don't do either, kiddies! (James L. Tichenor)
Ginn admiring Sabbath is just now becoming known? Gimme a break. From this album on its evident that Ginn was HEAVILY influenced by Sabbath. Just listen to the sludgier pace and the more complex riffing that starts to happen here. besides i read somewhere that Ginn said that early Flag stuff was just sabbath songs changed a little, arranged a little, and sped up for punk tastes.
Weak, weak, weak. By trying to mix the droning boring-isms of White Light era Velvet Underground with plodding riffs of the Black Sabbath variety, Greg Ginn succeeded in making a musical embarrassment that maybe he didn't recognize due to the fact he was such a crippled pot head. Typical Rollins "angry" musings make it a drag to sit through, there are no hooks whatsoever, and Bill Stevenson needs to take drumming lessons and figure out how to keep time. 3/10 only because the title track is somewhat interesting. Don't even get me started on side 2! Blech!
This was my first Flag album. At the time I was really into their labelmates Saint Vitus (and still am) and to this day I still have a soft spot for total sludge and grime. Those looking for typical spastic punk should buy The First Four Years. This one bears more resemblance to doom metal than punk. The lyrics are amazing. Considering my own personal experiences, the lyrics toally touch base, especally "Can't Decide". The last few songs are total doom and does bear a resemblance to Vitus and even Sab. This is a great and underrated album. It's far from generic and broke down barriers. (James T. Edmunds)
This album would probably be near as good as Damaged if they kept the songs at about two minutes. For some reason they stretched out good 2-minute punk songs into 4-5 minute boring, say the same thing over and over again, masses of redundancy.
The first punk album I ever heard, turned to "eleven" on a getto-blaster on my way back from a Boy Scout trip in 1985. The only reason my Scout Leader let us destroy ourselves to My War in the back of the van is because he probably couldn't hear it after two tours in Vietnam and ten years on the back of a 1400cc Harley as a State Trooper. My War beats Damaged by one point. It beats Slip It In by two. For my money the only other punk rock album ever made that beats My War is Milo Goes To College or Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. GBH used to rock, too. You know who is as good in the 90s/00s? The Dillinger4.
My War only gets a 7? Personally i'll take this over Damaged! The heavyness of this album fuckin blew me away when i first heard it, and to me at least, this album actually sounds angrier than any other album Black Flag produced. The first half is full of great rock songs. The second half is the heaviest they ever did and IMHO is Rollins best vocal performance with the Flag. Definitly a pefect 10... (justin russell)
Every time I put in ''my war'',(my favorite album of all time, beside: raw power,paranoid and doors first album). I get the urge to turn off the lights, build my anger,hate,every evil feeling in me and start punching the concrete wall in my basement room, and dont quit until scream is completley over.
Black Flag's My War was a groundbreaking album that paved the way for grunge 5 years later. Listen to the music on "Nothing Left Inside" and hear them invent the Melvins.
My War was much better than Damaged. Although their drummer on this album is awful and Gregg Ginn played some lousy guitar solos and the mixing sounds a little bad , it was a breath of fresh air unlike Damaged.The songs on My War are kick ass songs!(Except that one song I forget the name of it!)But Black Flag released some better albums than this one after this!

Colin T.
this is new music, especially for today. what band has played like this since? ahead of its time and then some, homey...... if you don't like it, or think the songs are "lacking" then get a bootleg and hear them in a live context. . yeah, it'll rock your world. (Michael Grefski)
In many ways 1983's "My War" is a pivotal point in the punk/metal crossover of the eighties and an early one at that. It would still be a year before C.O.C. mixed Sabbathy tempos with hardcore power, and Black Flag was way ahead of the curve. And yes, Saint Vitus were contemporaries and shared a record label with the Flag, but they also didn't get vinyl out until '84.Also, this album proved how closed minded the general consensus of punks was. I dare say that if this album was programmed in a less daring way, i.e. the slow songs broken up by the faster ones instead of all smooshed together on one side, the album wouldn't have recieved the bad rap that it did from the supposedly open-minded punkers. Rollins has pointed out that the band often performed the songs in the same matrix live and met with amazingly hostile audience reactions. Y'see, back then broadminded leftist hardcore punks thought that if you didn't write exclusively short, fast tracks you were a big commercial sell-out, whether you sold any records at all or ever got played on the radio. It's amazing how large this album's shadow looms over the current slo-core, crusty metal-punk doom scenes. It's hard to imagine bands like Eyehategod, Crowbar, 13, Sour Vein, Grief, and dozens of others without MY WAR as a backdrop. A side note: in high school Black Flag duked it out with Slayer as my favorite band of all time, but in retrospect only about 50% of the Flag's output still holds an important place in my heart, with DAMAGED and IN MY HEAD holding their impact most sharply.
If the last record's mix sounded bad, this one only continues the trend. And that's sad, cuz the music & vocals are pretty cool. It just doesn't have audio fidelity, and more importantly, a live edge to it (Thank goodness for Live '84!). Ginn overdubbed the bass and it shows - why oh why didn't he keep Dukowski in the band for this new era of Flag?? Still, a good record for all its weak points.
I'm currently torn about this album. I think it's great, in some parts a mite better than "Damaged," but it has a couple of big flaws. Firstly, Bill Stevenson, even though he's a great drummer, is at his absolute worst here: he sounds practically like he was hired two days before the sessions and then given the drum parts a couple days after that. He has a lot of trouble meshing with Ginn's bass playing. Second, Ginn's bass playing on the album is merely competent, and merely meant to be there as a muddying sound, to make the music coagulate. If Dukowski was there - and there's completely no reason why he couldn't have played bass for this album before leaving - this album would sound eons better. Come ON - Dukowski's hacksaw bass on "My War"? "Can't Decide"? Every song would sound better, and that's a fact. Thirdly, there are three songs that range from so-so to flat-out lousy. "Beat My Head Against The Wall" and "Scream" are utterly pathetic rants with inexcusably sloppy musical backing, and "Forever Time" is just not that great in comparison to the other songs.

But, there are the other songs. And what songs they are! "My War" is the sound of all your held-back rage finally, uncontrollably exploding at someone you've always hated: this is one of the band's all-time classics. "Can't Decide" and "I Love You" continue the trend of uncontrollable emotions building until they detonate with horrible consequences, and "Swinging Man" has Ginn sounding like a metal guitarist version of Albert Ayler while Henry makes being a swinger sound like the worst thing in the world - too great. "Nothing Left Inside" and "Three Nights" slow down to make the Flag sound like an astoundingly debased and degraded version of Black Sabbath, with Hank shrieking about depression and pain finally catching up to him. Those two songs are absolutely crushing examples of near-doom metal at its finest. Ginn goes hogwild in those two songs as well, which would lead me to give "My War" an 8/10.

The reason why the record sounds so odd is because of 1) where it was recorded and 2) the mixing. The mixing is erratic: guitars will be channeled slightly-left-center sometimes and move other places during the song; Hank sometimes gets panned weirdly and also has two other Hanks backing him up on key lines or making weird animal noises in the background; things like that. The album was recorded in Total Access Studios, a typical punk studio: but, the catch is that Black Flag recorded nearly all of "My War" in their practice area in Total Access. The practice area was covered - walls, floor, ceiling - with old, thick shag carpeting. The carpeting sucked the high-end out of everything and gave "My War" its' uniquely claustrophobic, suffocated sound.

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The Complete 1982 Demos - bootleg.
rating = 8

HI! First let me point out that I reviewed Black Flag's catalog several years before I acquired this bootleg, and now feel that every single one of them should be upped a few points (especially My War and Slip It In, both of which I now feel I underrated horribly!). So what this is is this is a bunch of alternate versions of tracks you can find on those two records I just mentioned, as well as a couple of (as far as I know) unreleased tracks that I believe are called "What Can You Believe?" (hard bluesy rocker - 'sokay, but no great shakes) and "Yes I Know" (angry hardcore punk rock! Awesome song!!). If you've been itching to hear a full-on kickass version of "My War" without that weird production, here's your place. Hoo, this version kicks ass. It may actually have had Chuck Dukowski playing on it (it's definitely two guitars, but I'm not sure if they're both Greg or what). But enough about me. You don't necessarily NEED to buy this album - for the most part, the alernate versions aren't really all that different. But "Yes I Know" (or whatever the title is) is an excellent tune that should have been on one of their studio albums ("Swingin' Man" made the cut, but this one didn't? Sheesh!). And there's a great interview with the band near the end too. That's neat. And TWO different versions of "I Love You"! Come join the jamboree!

Reader Comments
This is my favorite Black Flag ever, I've had it for 10 yrs. and always pick it up if I want to listen to Black Flag. I've actually never heard the realesed bootleg, how is the quality? I got mine from Henry and its MINT plus there are two extra songs on it "Chipmunk Punk" and "Flu" both instrumentals. The Nothing Left Inside/Scream is the best thing they've ever recorded.

Here's the lineup:
Greg - guitar
Dez - guitar (wrote first two songs)
Henry - vocs
Chuck D. - bass
Chuck Biscuits - drums
FYI the first 2 songs on the black flag 1982 demos are by Dez Cadena, and were later released by his band DC3.

Do you know of any other unreleased black flag recordings?
Please add this to your very well written Black Flag record review page:

Regarding the the infamous bootleg, "The Complete 1982 Demos" with Chuck Biscuits playing drums, Dez on rhythm guitar, and Dukowski on Bass (same lineup as "Damaged", but with Biscuits on drums). I have to say Mark, I beg to differ with you - this one is *essential*, and it's a DAMN SHAME that this album wasn't officially released! First off, my apologies to Stevenson cause he's one of the greats, but Biscuits is hands down the best drummer The Flag ever had, live AND musically. Trust me, I'm a drummer, and I can totally tell the difference! I had the priveledge of seeing him perform with BF in Austin in '82, and I swear! Ive been to 4 very memorable Flag shows, I've seen them with Robo, Emil, and Martinez, (I've seen Stevenson several times with his two-headed baby, Descendents and All, and seen video and heard live recordings with Flag), but the one with Biscuits took the cake!! Being that Biscuits was the best drummer to play for BF, It is an American trajedy that they didnt officially put out an album with him on it!

But back to the 82 demos...The thing I noticed is this - the sound is that classic Black Flag sound that alot of us fell in love with! First of all, you got the unbridled sonic force that is Greg, Dez, and Chuck D. which makes the overall guitar sound just like Damaged. Henry is still so close to the Damaged era, that he's not yet doing those over repetitive "hey" and "ho" idiosyncratic vocal fills that he began to do in the latter half of his BF career. He's singin em straight complete with his patented growls and shreaks, and it sounds great! Another thing to notice, is that songs like Slip it In, My War, and Can't Decide are all a couple clicks faster, adding to their Damaged-esque mid-tempo appeal, and creating an energy and which mirrors the way they sounded live. The only thing lacking on the album is that the drum and bass audio mix is somewhat faded and diminished, a flaw that would'nt have been present in an officially liscensed release. The guitars and vocals are mixed perfect!

This would have been a perfect and logical segue between the Damaged and My War eras. Not only would Biscuit's significant contribution have been catalogued for all to hear, there would be this "middle ground" album easing us from the Damaged sound into the Kira/Stevenson sound. Also, it would have more accurately depicted the volatility and constant innovation of the band in relation to their overall catalogue, and it would have given us fans of the Greg, Dez, and Chuck D. combo a little something extra to savor for years to come! If Greg Ginn has access to this, I wish he would remaster it, and officially release it!

Colin T.
thanks for coming clean. mark's impression is one that you all should mirror. essential material. this right here is a hardtofind bootleg; get it at all costs.
WOW! The missing link between Damaged and My War! See, the band was listening to Hendrix and Hakwind and other stoner/psychedelic/experimental un-punk music while touring for Damaged. It was actually punk for them to be anti-punk (esp since the st00pid audiences would punch the singer out, etc. Duh. Can you blame the Meat Puppets for quitting the genre with treatment like this? Or for that matter the DKs for breaking up?) Anyway, the two unreleased tunes are Dez songs that he would release great versions of with his next band DC3's 1984 debut album "This Is The Dream" (SST). This bootleg is a MUST for any serious Flag fan, as it captures the group in probably their most creative period, when they were morphing from "hardcore punk" to other music. And for God's sake check out DC3! (Mike Noto)
Haven't heard this, but I have heard the version of "My War," and it bulldozes the studio version like stampeding buffalo. Wow.
Some generous soul uploaded the entire session demos on Youtube. Why in the name of all that is pure and righteous didn't they release these tracks as an LP instead of 'My War'? That extra guitar makes all the difference, and Henry still sounds (and screams) like an emotionally disturbed teen pulling shifts at Baskin Robbins instead of the worldly spoken word artist he has since become. Was it the legal thing with their record company? Was Ginn not happy with the demos? Something else?

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Family Man - SST 1984.
rating = 1

Without a doubt, one of the most godawful albums ever pressed. The first half is Henry Rollins reciting bad poetry (FYI: Some of the Henry spoken word stuff on other records is actually very entertaining - especially the more humor-oriented material, but this particular batch can best be described as "moronic drivel"), and the second half is Greg Ginn leading his band through a series of tuneless, pointless, ugly improvisational jams. On only one track does Henry join the clutter - and this one, "Armageddon Man," is probably the worst of all. It sounds like a bunch of talentless kids making racket on their father's instruments in the basement. Avoid at all costs. You will never again be able to hold this generally decent band in high regard if you allow yourself to sit through this horrid product. Family Man? More like Total Crap Man!

Reader Comments (Rana Ghose)
If the rating on this isn't changed soon, I'll be forced to kill you. (Chris Simich)
This was done purposely to piss punkers off. That is why the album was so great.
What are you talkin about??? This is a masterpiece! "...I want to crucify you on your front porch, with the nails from your well stocked garage." (Loyd Salisbury)
C'mon. You gotta take your hat off to "salt on a slug"! (Chris Collins)
Ok, the band reached its logical conclusion and everything they set out to achieve with the brilliant Damaged, but they decided to drag on rather than get real jobs like most musicians!! Absolutely godawful. It would have all been perfect...oh so perfect...if they had called it quits around '82. Now us Flag fans have this crap to answer for! (Mike Semcheski)
The one about Rats is killer, "Hollywood Diary". The rest of it is pretty fucked up too. Oh and "Salt on a Slug"? (Dean Hendel)
The musical side was absolutely adolecent and even though the narrative poetry was'nt very deep it still hit the anger center of my brain and filled an adolescent need in me,long ago but I'm feeling much better now.
I never listened to this whole album but it does sound very dumb! I have no fucking idea what the hell Henry is try to preach about! From what I've heard it makes no scence. And the instrumentals on it aren't that great! I won't be buying this album ever!
Have you ever wondered why there's no job security in Black Flag? It's not because they spent 512 days on the road each year. It's not because they netted $874.38 in total income per year. It's not even because fans threw their own excrements at them. No sir! It's because Greg Ginn was a stoned prick who listened to no one except the chronic voice in his head that said: "Go get your brother to give you some cover artwork, take those rehearsal tapes while Rollins was away doing some spoken word gigs and package them as the new Black Flag e.p." Why Hank didn't knock Ginn's buck teeth out is beyond me and I'd like to think that Greg now looks back on his shenanigans with regret as he singlehandedly destroyed his (and his company's) biggest moneymaker (and the only reason we're talking about him today) a band called Black Flag. As I write this, SST in financial hot water again thanks to the entire Zoogz Rift catalog, the belief that Das Damen would capture the American hearts like Dinosaur Jr., that U2's management would get the joke an never think of suing Lawndale's most famous export over a Negativland e.p., and that there's nothing wrong with drawing up recording contract while under the influence of high THC content weed. You can probably tell that I have some serious issues with Mr. Ginn, but don't think for a moment that I'm completely happy with one Hank Rollins either.

So here we have a split e.p., essentially, with Gone on one side (yeah, I know it's not the same line-up, so don't bother with your reply) and a Hank spoken word on the other. Before you think that I'm going to back Prindle on his rating of "one," hold on to your 1 1/2 inch cock... I actually enjoy Hank's spoken word stuff, especially the title track. The pretentions of later day Hank is gone as he is finding his voice (so to speak) with his written words. This was done during a time when Henry seemed genuinely suprised that people would want to read his prose, let alone hear him speak it. Five years later, Hank started to like the sound of his own voice and could actually visualize the moniker of "writer" beside his name. And I actually enjoy "The Pups Are Doggin' It." It's a racket in the basement using their father's instruments, alright, but I'd be damn proud if that were my band makin' the noise. Spontaneous yet visualized, this iinstrumental beats the entire Weeding Out e.p., hands down.

Unfortunately, nothing good can be said about Family Man's only full on band contribution, "Armageddon Man" which is below what you and I know as an outtake, it's scraping the bottom of the barrel. Did Ginn actually think that fans really needed to hear how bad his band could actually be or was he just too baked to know better? You can go ahead and post your response to that one, because it's a question I sure as hell don't know the answer to. So we've got about four good Hank pieces, that only counts as a half point each because the rest of the gang's not with him, one decent instrumental, a shit ass bottom feeder (minus one point), and, the my favorite thing about this release, one of the best punk rock album covers in history featuring our family man blowing away his loved ones after hearing the news from Dallas, Texas. According to my math, that makes "Family Man" about a four. Something for Black Flag fans to mildly consider if they've got $9 to spend (the total net income of Greg Ginn last year, according to his 2001 tax returns) and something for the rest of you to stay the fuck away from.
This record is fun! How can you give it such a low score? It's not something I listen to every day but it sure is more interesting than Nirvana's "Nevermind" ever was !!! Henry's poetry readings out in the shed are at least very entertaining, and the instrumental noodlings are awesome excercises in self indulgence. Let 'em noodle, I say! If you want to be masturbated with typical punk rock, go buy a Bad Religion album!
The fact that this platter of pretentious, amateurish, artistically bankrupt and self-indulgent horseshit was ever released, much less recorded, is a testament to the fanatical egomania, coupled with shallow incompetence, that was driving the band at this time.

Henry Rollins' normally entertaining spoken word pieces here sound like what may happen if Fred Durst ever discovers T.S. Eliot.

The music resembles a lobotomized '80's hair-metal cover band trying to play Albert Ayler.

Curiously enough, the worst track here is when they both get together for nine tooth-pulling minutes.

The one thing that's even close to entertaining is Hanky's recitative about salting a slug, and admittedly that's pretty funny in a moronic way.

This gets the official rating of tick-ridden dogshit. Even Kira sounds bad, which never happens.

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Slip It In - SST 1984.
rating = 7

Well, it's better than Family Man, but that's a lot like being better than a hot dog with urine and vomit all over it. I don't know. Go to Hell.

Let's start over, you and I. Forget our differences and go the high road for once. Herein begins the "Black Flag as overblown sex-crazed rock 'n' rollin' juggernauts" portion of their career. Greg Ginn musta not been gettin' any of that stuff, cuz he sure couldn't stop writing about it! This title track is repulsive, even before the girl starts moaning and screaming at the end. Stupid. As a matter of fart, a lot of what you'll find on this record is stupid. Dumb riffs pop up in the middle of otherwise kickass hard rock songs, bad lyrics abound (especially in "Rat's Eyes" - bleah), and, most notably, almost every single one of these four-chord would-be classics goes on for at least five minutes! That's too long!!! The inspiration only lasts for about two and a half, then they just keep adding on more verses! Why didn't they get bored playing this garbage? Fools they all! Still, dimwittedness aside, this stuff is much meaner than most of what we thought of as "heavy metal" in 1984. The guitar sounds mcgruff and angry, and most of the melodies sound as pissed-off as a wolverine. Too bad they go on for so friggin' long. A very messy-type album. I feel dirty after listening to it.

Heck, I feel dirty after listening to John Tesh.

Quite frankly, I don't bathe!

Reader Comments
I think "The Bars" is a great song!
Only six out of ten - you fool!! If it wasn't for "Rat's Eyes" and "My Ghetto," this would get a straight ten from me. This album contains some of the best guitar riffs ever written..."Slip It In," "Black Coffee," "The Bars" - all classics. If you think "Slip It In" is sexist/offensive/etc., then you're clearly not familiar with the concept of irony (and you severely insult Mr Ginn's intelligence). This is a CLASSIC album...and i'll not hear otherwise!
I love Heavy Metal. NOT (Layne Browning)
Slip It In is simply a good, not great album. "Wound Up" and "The Bars" are such powerful songs I never could figure out why they didn't play them live on their last tour. "Rat's Eyes" sucks, but "You're Not Evil" more than makes up for it.

An underrated album. This has some of the best guitar noise solos ever. Check out the guitar on "Wound Up" and "Black Coffee". Simple,direct, brilliant. "Rats Eyes" blows but the rest is near classic. BTW 5 minutes may be too long for people raised on TV but people interested in music should know better. (Dean Reis)
I think the seven might be a little high. (same with my war and damaged). But your reasons are way off. "rock and roll juggernaut carreer"? Where did you make that up, and why do you think they took themselves that seriously. "Slip It In" is a riot if you ask me. You say its disguisting and you call yourself a rock and roller?
i like to think of my war and slip it in as flag's metal twofer. slip it in has cleaner production and kira's influence. to me this sound has nothing to do with sex pistols/ramones/circle jerks type punk; rather, i hear creative, manic hard rock. i love kira's vocal contributions, such as they are. I may represent a flag fan club of one, but i am most fond of my war, slip it in, and the first (heavier) side of in my head. (Lachlan Watt)
I might be alone in this, but I think that Slip It In is actually Black Flag's best record. This isn't a dumb heavy metal album, more like ironic hard rock, and irony is something the Flag were always about (remember "White Minority" or "Thirsty and Miserable?"). This album is where Ginn takes the influences of his younger days (King Crimson, the Stooges, Sabbath, Blue Cheer etc.) and creates a mid-tempo grind all of his own.

I can't really add anything to the epic debate over Ginn's guitar stylings that hasn't been said already, but I for one love the guitar solos that are present here. The screamy fade in on "Obliteration" and the bluesy lead on "Wound Up" are my personal picks for some of the best noise to ever come out of a six string, if that makes any sense... (Brian Williams)
drinking black coffee drinking black coffee drinking black coffee staring at the walls black coffee drinking black coffee drinking black coffee ... et. al -- among the finest later black flag tracks -- my opinion -- from one who regularly drove all over hell and north carolina watching 'em play their guts out before audiences of, say, 31 back when henry wore a beard ( ... like a bleary sailor, dank polyester chinos ... ) Black Coffee is the Flag -- Adrenaline & Caffeine & Decibels in Ultra high doses. Gregg Ginn's guitar playing is a gift to America.
Slip it in is even better than damaged! Every song is a classic and is what punk rock is supposed to be. I think Henry's vocals have improved since damaged too.I didnt even want to buy another Black Flag album because I keep hearing about how damaged is their best one, but i took a chance and bought slip it in and much to my surprise i liked it even better than damaged. Man people are gonna hate me for sayin this, but screw them I say. Atleast I'm honest...
Slip It in is better than My War, and definitly better than that "Damaged crap!"But not as good as the Nervouse Break down and Jealouse agin ep. The song"Slip It In" has Gregg Ginn's best guitar solo work!The solos and lead playing in that song are perfect or near perfect!(unlike most of his guitar solos that are wacked!!!) The over all song kicks ass! "Black coffee" is another good song.Hell,most of the songs on this album are good.That instrumental song on on that album(i can't remeber the name of it) is lousy though! It has a boring riff that drags on and on!
Jehosefah! Talk about a universally underrated album! This was the first Flag album I ever heard and remains one of my favorites. For one, the sound and playing on it are top notch. If only the earlier Rollins albums were recorded like this! Come to think of it, if only the later Rollins albums would be too! The sound is raw and live, but totally crisp, clear & powerful. The songs are a mixed bunch, but the album is more interesting for it. "Slip It In" is the band's "Hot For Teacher", sure it's tasteless, but the biting social satire is well done and it's funny! The "real songs" - Black Coffee, Wound Up (mere coincidence the Circle Jerks had a song of the same title that year?), and The Bars - are among the best in Flag's songbook, and the recordings kick! Rat's Eyes, Obliteration, and You're Not Evil do seem to plod on endlessly, beating us into submission like musical chinese water torture, but after pulling an all nighter doing your biology lab homework drinking black coffee(!) to these songs, they will grow on ya! Like a fungus! My Ghetto has some powerful riffage, even if it doesn't have any hooks, and who knows what the hell Hank is babbling about. For its flaws, I can't not love this album! The 3 *great* songs on here and the quality of the recording make it stand out.
The beginning of Black Flag's trash-rock period, Slip It In combined sub-thrash riffs, microtonally inflected noise-guitar leads, and ridiculous, depraved lyrics (not to mention female moans), most notably on the title track. Still, there is a perverse part of my personality that loves this shit. Much like I'm drawn to Kiss records (and not in the lame-ass, ironic hipster sense), I just find this proto-grunge appealing. That said, I am surprised that highlights such as the awesome, cowbell-driven, "Black Coffee" do not get more critical acclaim. The title track and "Wound Up" are great too, though. Gee, I don't know. Ah, that's alright, everyone is entitled to enjoy what he or she wants. I should probably go by now. 8/10, maybe a 9.

The anthemic quality of these songs is highly underrated in critical quarters. The first three songs and "The Bars" have great, catchy hooks, and the other songs have worthwhile qualities. Ginn contributes brilliant lines to "The Bars" (not the improvised noise, but the carefully arranged motif he plays near the end of each verse). "You're Not Evil" actually improves on the genre of heavy metal it parodies. What an album! Forget what I said about "trash-rock"; this is great!
I am astounded, Mark, that you would line up with literally every single critic who has written about this album to castigate the title track for being "sexist." And I have yet to read a single word of explanation from said critics as to WHY this song is sexist. It's like the meme that if you're against socialized medicine its because you're a racist who cannot accept a black president, an unquestioned, complacent and insulting non sequitor. Slip it In is SEXY, not sexist, that classic Spinal Tap distinction.

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Live '84 - SST 1984.
rating = 3

I've always felt that live albums are a pretty rotten idea, but this might be the bottom of the foot. How a band can manage to take seventy minutes of mostly catchy material and transform it into a completely unlistenable showcase of ineptitude is beyond my chasm of reason, but they manage somehow. For starters, Henry, in a Dez-esque manner, goes hoarse after about ten minutes, plus that guy singing along with him (Tom Troccoli?) never had a voice to begin with, times Greg won't stop soloing (and, as I aspoke earlier, he's an atrocious soloist), and take the square root of the polynomial of worst of all, the songs just won't end!!!!

The picture on the cover is worth at least seventy-five cents, though. Henry's got this big bushy hair, the drummer looks like Tommy Chong, the girl bass player smiles bright-eyed and innocently, as if she plays in a band whose last studio album wasn't entitled Slip It In, and Greg Ginn...looks dumb and geeky, like he always does. Priceless picture. Worthless album. Amateurs don't rock. They just bore. Get it together, bums.

Reader Comments (Douglas Crowther)
You've seriously under-rated Greg Ginn's abilities as a guitarist. He's one of the few true innovators since Hendrix. His lead lines offend the ears of those stuck in 'pop land' but they are meant to. The man knew exactly what he was doing. He could reproduce his recorded solos live note for note...and when he didn't that's cos he wanted to try something new. If you've never seen Ginn playing live then try to get hold of some footage of the Flag and watch the man's fingers work - anyone who knows anything about playing the guitar will immediately see what a technically skillful guitarist he was (and still is, no doubt). If you think his playing was ham-fisted then you try to copy any of his post-Damaged solos. Greg Ginn is a true individual and took Black Flag way beyond stereotypical 'punk' or 'hardcore'.
greg is great but he never soloed in key but it sounds cool so i guess i shouldn't be complaining. (Scott)
Opinions are like assholes, but I think you've got this one all wrong, kid. I've been listening to this tape daily for 6 months now. I can't get away from it. It's raw, it's got power, and it's properly fuct. You call it sloppy, I call it loose: I like loose. Incidentally, I think that's Milo yelping in the background. (By the way: your critique of the 'promo shot' makes you sound like a poncy pretty boy hairdresser/metalhead, too.) (Layne Browning)
This might be a lackluster show, but it is still good. This is the set they played for about 2 years and is a good document. (Chris Collins)
On the epic Greg-guitar debate.. the guy achieved a couple of rare things: He developed a guitar method, or non-method, that is instantly recognizable. For all intents and purposes, he initiated (for better or worse) hardcore (the early 80's stuff, guys, anything after '83 was just a tad too late) with those raw boxy power chords and crazed leads. Second, the energy packed into his playing is phenomenal.. it explodes in every different direction. Chaos was what punk (musically) was all about, not perfection. The trailblazers of mid-60s free jazz blew away the naive egghead concepts of instrumental polish and straightjacket structures, and produced some of those most intense, vicious music ever waxed. Music of infinite possibilities that threatened to go anywhere and do anything at any second. Improv was at the heart of this, and it is also a major component of Greg's playing. I'd rather listen to his guitar than those of any number of techno-hack eddie van halen/jimmy page sound-alikes (guitarists-as-computers) who play a lot of perfect notes in sequence. Visit your local guitar shop, and you'll hear about five of them wanking away (wow, man, that dude can really play!). Greg developed an instrumental voice that was his and his only, and that's pretty damn remarkable in my book.

Not to say that this album doesn't suck (but that's another story).
I don't know what you're talking about Prindle! This record is raw, rough and kickin! And it breathes life into inferior studio versions of the My War era songs.
Prindle needs to go back and listen to this one again. This is Black Flag's high water mark. Ginn's solos are terrific, Kira's bass playing solid and steady, but the real draw is Bill Stevenson's loose, risk-taking drumming. I'm sure they knew these songs inside-out, and that must have been the reason that Stevenson never falls off completely. Just compare this recording with the next live album from the following year (1985's Who's Got the 10 and a 1/2). Human metronome Anthony Martinez' drumming is downright pedestrian compared to Stevenson's work. Ginn supplied Flag with plenty of "cold tones" (more than most listeners can handle). Stevenson's drumming was effective at fighting off the chill.

mhoffman@MWTN.ORG (Mark Hoffman)
Back when this was a cassette-only release, I listened to it quite a bit, but was always bothered and distracted by the backup vocals. Both Tom Trocolli and various audience members overwhelm the sound of Henry's voice at times on the original release. A few years ago, though, I came across the CD release, and was blown away. The whole thing has been remastered and sounds exactly the way I always wished it would. My ratings: cassette version--3, CD--9 (Adam Hunt)
As live albums goes this is really a clinker so it's definitely not "Allman Brothers at Fillmore East" or Led Zeppelin's "How The West Was Won" but in it's defence Black Flag "Live '84 - SST 1984" is a pretty good snapshot of a band in transition. In a short while both Bill and Kira will be gone and from there the band will ultimately call it quits in '86.

One thing to consider is that The Stone had a terrible sound system (although I had seen shows ranging from John Butcher Axis to M.O.D., Death Angel to the Sea Hags, Megadeath and of course Black Flag) that the only reason why the "Live '84 - SST 1984" has some what of a decent sound to it is because they brought in their own sound system because other than that The Stone's low ceiling and concrete floor made the sound bounce around the room like a Ritalin case a crank.

As many highlights as "Live '84 - SST 1984" has, "I Can't Decide", "Slip It In", "Black Coffee" and a killer version of "My War" songs like "The Process of Weeding Out", "I Won't Stick Any Of You Until And Unless I Can Stick All Of You", "Three Nights", "Nothing Left Inside" and "Rats Eyes" don't get any better with age. That said I think seeing Black Flag live was more of an "experience" than a "concert". Imagine being locked in a room with some one totally whose totally mentally unhinged for an hour-and-a-half screaming directly at you at head spitting volume levels and you'll get a brief glimpse of what one of their shows were like.

I know that Rollins gets a bad rap for being a lunkhead and "ruining" Black Flag but here's something to think about Ginn wrote the overwhelming majority of songs and by most accounts it was always Ginn's band. Rollins, on the other hand, had written and recorded less than twelve songs the entire time he was with Flag. Check out the unauthorized biography of Rollins "Turned On" or "Get in the Van" for some interesting behind the scenes look of Black Flag.

Ginn comes across as a real dick to deal with, Ginn drove a lot of good people out of the band, Ginn was uncompromising and it was his way or the highway - Ginn also produced some of the most unforgettable rock and roll ever recorded.

With Black Flag gone now for almost twenty years the chances of them doing any sort of credible reunion is slim to none. Sure, Ginn put on a couple of shows in L.A. with a drum machine and some ex-Black Flag members but by most accounts the shows just sucked.

I'm glad I got to see Rollins in S.F. during the "Rise Above" fund raising tour with guests Keith Morris and Jello Biafra. Rollins' backing band, Mother Superior, truly kicked out the jams that night and I think it will be the closest that we will come to a "Flag" show for any time soon.

Sure, Superjoint Ritual think they can play like Black Flag but they can't even play like Blue Cheer on a bad night.

I'm sorry that Rollins later albums like "Get Some Go Again" and the like are pretty generic hard rock fair and I'm sorry too that Ginn has become a bitter middle aged recluse but until some one unearths some soundboard bootlegs or some video footage this may be the best there is. Is this a great album? No. Is it worth listening to, sure, if you can find a used copy. Is it a must have? No, but it's better than nothing.

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Loose Nut - SST 1985.
rating = 8

Okay, they're getting it together. Finally. This is metal, but it's not messy overlong crap metal, like SOME albums I know! These are well-produced and slick (but loud and creative) new melodies presented in a pretty orange sleeve. Diverse, too, thanks to musical input from other non-Greg sorts of folks, including bass player Kira, who contributes the obviously-written-by-a-bass-player-but-still-or-perhaps-as-a-result-absolutely-fantastic rockers "Best One Yet" and "I'm The One," drummer Bill Stevenson, who chimes in with "Now She's Black," which is either racist or morbid, depending on what type of fellow he is, and even ol' ex-bassman Chuck Dukowski, who gives up the goat with a crappy melody called "Modern Man" that still sounds good for some reason, probably cuzza strong production.

The other songs, those penned by Mr. Greg, are mostly reliable metal tunes about screwin', except for "Bastard In Love" which might be called pop metal, but not in a Bon Jovi way - more like Tom Petty forced at gunpoint to use a fuzztone. Aw man, a fuzztone. How about a fuzztone? "Sinking" is slow and dull, but the others breathe new life into the rotting corpse that was Black Flag. Certainly no Damaged, and definitely not terribly...uh...emotionally resonant, say, regardless of lyrics like "I slam my fist into the wall / I can feel it when I close my eyes / And this is good!," but worthwhile any old way. I know. It's only rock and roll. But I like shit! Strong melodies and only a few of 'em drag. I give you permission to purchase it.

Reader Comments (Robert Davison)
I think it is somewhat inaccurate to define the music on Loose Nut as `metal'. Sure, there is an influence there, but I think the sound falls somewhere in between the sludgey riffing of Black Sabbath, Black Flag's earlier hardcore stylings and free jazz (although this jazz aspect was not fully developed until In My Head) to create a unique and innovative `hard music' sound. Some of this album is a little patchy, but for the most part it is hard hitting, powerful and always interesting; it ranks among Black Flag's better albums. To my ears, the album is far and away above most of the tripe released by so called `heavy metal' bands. Greg Ginn was a constant innovator, always striving to keep the music advancing and progressing in the tradition of Miles Davis or Frank Zappa. I don't agree that Greg Ginn was a terrible soloist. His soloing techniques stretch into avant-garde experimental territory, more reminiscent of sax player Ornette Coleman than the likes of Eddie Van Halen. Although it is debatable that Greg Ginn knew what he was doing all of the time, his guitar playing was always invigorating, fresh and stretching the boundaries of what is considered `music'. (Jennifer Allen)
The ONLY other good Rollins album that isn't talking. (Layne Browning)
This is the album, besides Damaged, that I liked the most right when it came out. It is real powerful, and "Modern Man" is pretty good. Why are you cutting it down? Duke wrote that song about 3 years earlier than Nut came out. I'm surprised you don't appreciate it since it sounds like it could be on Damaged (except for the production).
Weak, especially for Black Flag. This does not sound AT ALL like a Punk record, more like an amateur attempt towards thrash. I mean, especially compared to Damaged, themes of revolution, anger, and even humour are replaced with cliche'd heavy metal overtones. Can't believe I listened to Marky on this one!! Damn you Mark! You told me to! (Dean Reis)
"Tom Petty held at gunpoint" bit. Couldn't have said it better. How this album got 8 stars with songs like "Loose Nut" on it, I'll never know.
Seeing as how Black Flag was so "prolific" during this period, maybe the reason the records weren't that good were because the band didn't bother taking time to edit themselves. Loose Nut is at best a perfectly mediocre album with a couple good songs ("I'm the One", "Now She's Black") mixed in with tripe like "Annihilate this Week", "This is Good" (No, that is bad) and the "experimental" guitar drag of "Sinking". Mostly this album just sounds ...... dumb. As if no time was spent on it and the band just decided to throw in 9 "songs" that basically consisted of a few simple, basic guitar riffs. 5/10
You just can’t go wrong with this album.

Especially the title track where Henry starts on about 'a loose nut inside his head, a bolt of lightning between his legs'

It’s just such a swipe at the jocko-homophobe types that beat them up at 'Basies' in Southern California, when Chief Darryl Gates sent in the stormtroopers.

My top four Flag albums (in order) would be:
1. Damaged
2. Loose Nut
3. Slip It In
4. First 4 1/2 Years
Loose Nut is okay.Its not thier best album,but not thier worst.The song "loose nut" is probably the best song on it.The guitar solos on this album are awful though! And one of the songs on this album(can't remeber the name) is very unmusical and annoying! (Steve)
Ok, I'll give these guys the benefit of the doubt and assume that this was meant to be "ironic hard rock". I've always thought that the addition of Kira to their lineup during this period was an attempt to make it obvious that the seemingly macho posturing of some of their new songs wasn't to be taken at face value. But none of this changes the fact that this record fucking BLOWS! Indulging in too much marijuana and Dio can be hazardous to a punk rock band's health. Regardless of ironic intent, this gets a 4 from me.
Great album, for the most part great songs. But the production is weird, too metally. Maybe I am tainted because I heard the 10 1/2 versions first, but this album sounds like it was recorded in a tin can. It woulda been more powerful recorded with the sound of "Slip It In". Then again, maybe that would be stagnation - can't blame Ginn for trying new ideas. The songs ARE great. Due to hearing "10 1/2" first, I can't really separate this from "In My Head", I consider them 2 sides of a double album, I even bought 'em together. The lyric even says it "Loose nut IN MY HEAD!"
I actually seem to be one of the very few people in this world (maybe even the only person O_O) who prefers Black Flag's jazzy metal era over the punk era. Yeah, that's right, mofos. Nervous Breakdown is an overrated piece of shit to me, and to be honest I really don't see what makes edge punk enthusiasts love it so much. The record is what it's called, really: Just a Nervous Breakdown coming from a bunch of distraught youth who haven't yet found out how to write good songs or play their instruments that well. Sheesh. I'm glad they FIXED themselves. Loose Nut and The Process of Weeding Out are almost my favorite Black Flag albums, but for me that award goes to In My Head. Still...This is a great album. Lots of 80's production in here (especially with the arena rock sounding drums), and the melodies are very unique, complimenting the weird arrangements Black Flag makes for some of their songs (Modern Man and This Is Good sound really strange). And I don't care if Greg Ginn's solowork isn't talented, because to me it still sounds unique and interesting. There seems to be a lot of jazz and sludge metal influence on here, and the sluggish tempo to Sinking sounds like a longing attempt at Black Sabbath. Very dark and party-like and twisted at the same time. This album is most definitely not considered enough, even by Black Flag fans.

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The Process Of Weeding Out EP - SST 1985.
rating = 5

I'm writing this album review about three years after I reviewed the rest of the Black Flag catalog, so forgive me if I repeat myself or contradict something I've said elsewhere in the review.

This is a 27-minute, 4-song instrumental record that features some awesome drum and bass tunes topped by more of Greg Ginn's poor "avante-garde" meanderings. Okay, at this point in my life, I'm willing to accept the argument that he was being tuneless on purpose. You know, trying to bring the avante-garde free-form style of Coltrane or Coleman to the guitar. But that doesn't change the fact that he SUCKS at it!!! Simply playing random notes on top of an otherwise catchy song does NOT qualify as brilliance. It's very, very easy to do. I've been playing the guitar for eleven years, and I'm telling you -- this crap Greg's playing sounds like the hamfisted noodlings of an amateur. And I'm not trying to argue that Greg wasn't a great songwriter or a great PUNK guitarist. He was both. But he was NOT a worthy jazz guitarist. If it's amateurish free-form "punk" guitar you're after, maybe you'll dig what he's doing, but if that's the case, I'd be happy to send you some tapes I made when I was 15. They sound exactly the same. The guy can't improvise worth a shit. If you want good free-form guitaring, check out the beginning of "Eight Miles High" or some James Blood Ulmer or Frank Zappa or whoever that dude was that plays on Ornette Coleman's Dancing In Your Head. It's free form, but you can tell that they actually have a clue what they're doing. Greg is just getting high, dicking around and convincing himself (and many fans, apparently) that he's a visionary.

Reader Comments

Colin T.
your review is a contradiction in terms. also, what the FUCK are you talking about???!??!! great album
Black Flag had a lot a material released around this time period, averaging something like 2.5 releases per year. Narrowed down to one a year (after all, their cash was from the road and not vinyl), the Flag might have been able to kick in some consistancy into their studio output. Which makes the title of this instrumental e.p. so funny. The only weeding out going on here is Ginn loading up a bong hit. Someone needed to tell Ginn that nobody can play better guitar solos stoned than his hero Jerry Garcia. There's a reason why this is the worst selling Flag album in their catalog...But it's the best selling Gone album he ever did, which is the moniker he should have used for this jack off release.
Crazy shit, man. Like the "Family Man" instrumentals, I can't listen to this every day, but more power to 'em for getting experimental on your ass. By '84/85 punk was becoming way too homogenized and formulaic, so leave it to Flag to shake things up.

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MinuteFlag EP (with the Minutemen) - SST 1985.
rating = 1

You ever heard that phrase "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all?"












WOW! When Black Flag and the Minutemen get together for an instrumental free jazz "JAM" session, you better bet that the results are














WOW! When Henry and D. Boon get together for dual vocals on the Latin-influenced "Fetch The Water," believe you me,


























Reader Comments
Comon Prindle, this record ain't bad at all!

Sure it's no magnum opus, but it's an interesting listen, something Ginn & Co. could almost always be counted on for, for better or worse.

Actually I would file this more under Minutemen, as it has a sound very similar to that band's wonderful "Project Mersh" EP. In fact, I would heartily recommend burning them together on one CD.
i completley agree with you on this one.i bought it when i was in high school,listened to it maybe twice,gave it to my older brother,who in turn broke it in half.i havent even seen it in record stores since,and believe you me that's a good thing.

Kevin Chanel
Ohh, come on Prindiepants. Have a heart. This li'l ep is way better than anything Flag put out after My War. I'll even add Minutemen's "3 Way Tie to that list. "Fetch The Walter" is probably the best tribute to Matthau since the 70's cartoon "The Oddball Couple."

"Candy Rush"...well, that and the rest of the ep is about as good as Family Guy or Process of Getting High And Turning On The Recorder And Ordering A Pizza And Laughing About That Funny Thing Zoogz Said And Crying Cuz 'No One Understands Always August' And Dude Where's My Lighter And...Fuuuucccck...The Tape Was Rolling This Whole Time?!?!"

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In My Head - SST 1985.
rating = 9

Let me stress this with my shirt on; it's extremely difficult to believe that this album came out the same year as Loose Nut. Loose Nut was loud and proud, vocal-oriented heavy metal. This is weird note-oriented jazz metal with a heavily-reverbed Henry buried waaaaaaaaaaaaaay in the background. I can't believe ol' Loudmouth allowed his trademark scream to be silenced like this, but it's certainly an interesting listen as a result. Half the time, you can't even tell he's in there!

Luckily, Greg Ginn puts more effort into writing unique melodies than he ever has before. Side two is just your good ol' basic metal (ever heard "Drinking And Driving?"), but side one is full of dark notey notey ever-so-notey melodies that clearly could never be reproduced in a live setting by Mr. Spaz Greg Ginn, so it's really cool that the band made sure to get them on tape before the devastating split-up. They're all pretty similar, but far more eerie than anything they've done since My War. Let me stress again that this album's existence is a complete surprise. All Greg and Henry ever did was talk about how their band was the hardest-rockin', most kickass band around, yet there's no way that a band that recorded side one of this album could even think about calling themselves such a ridiculous thing. It's like goth art rock! I say buy it. The CD's got a couple of great bonus tracks, too, which you'll read about in mere seconds.

Reader Comments (Matthew Hargrove)
I think In My Head is probably one of their best albums--and one of their most overlooked. The last time I saw Black Flag was right around the time this one was released, and the set relied heavily on this album. It was great. They opened with "Drinking & Driving" which since then has remained one of my favorite Black Flag songs. I like this album because Henry is a little more subdued than on other albums. Yeah I love the fierce, in-your-face, screaming Henry as much as the next guy, but I think Greg Ginn was the real genius of this band. His guitar playing is so unique and interesting. (Jennifer Allen)
Bleah. (Layne Browning)
In My Head is what you get when you combine 1 part "Life Of Pain," 1 part "Swinging Man," and 1 part "You're Not Evil." A damn fine combo if you ask me. The Ultimate Flag album. I'm glad this was their last album because everything they had ever done before came together on this and created something greater than the sum. Sometimes you just get lucky. This is a completely different mood than Damaged, but that doesn't mean it sucks. Which is something I'll have to explain to people for the rest of my life.
In my head is definitely one of their best albums! (Norma Jean Barron)
"societies tease"! best black flag song ever!!!!!!!! (Loyd Salisbury)
Black Flag were fans of the Finland metal band Hanoi Rocks. Hanoi's drummer was killed when he got into a car with a drunk Vince Neil of Motley Crue. Hanoi Rocks broke up after that. "Drinking & driving" is either a tribute to Hanoi or an attack on Motley Crue (or both). (Luis Santana)
The best sounding Black Flag album. More MC5/Stooges-inspired than anything else I've heard from them. "Society's Tease" is an all time jam. Rollins sounds, well, I dunno...almost WARM on this record. Ginn's git's rule (but he was at his all-time best in GONE (circa Andrew Weiss/Sim Cain). Never cared much for the post-Dukowski rhythm section. This was pretty much their last good record. Thank God for the Rollins Band... (Mike Semcheski)
Pretty much on the money, I think the best thing about is that Rollins is turned down and the guitar (I don't care what you say about ginn, the guitar is fucking cool on this one) is turned up. (Elliot Imes)
Silly. Just because i'm feeling generous today, i'll give it a 7. I was expected a fuckin punk record, but was dissapointed after the first listen. However, i've come to like this one, regardless of how many weak metal tracks there are. I don't know what my deal is but I absolutely love the title track. It just pulls me into this void that I have in my life that can't really be described. I like "out of this world", too.
Hey now, this album ain't that bad. There are still some crappy "experimental" songs with annoying guitar lines, such as "White Hot", but "Drinking and Driving", "Retired at 21" and the title track are damn fine rock songs! They don't just sit there and pout, they move and pound and, most importantly, aren't BORING, which was what this band had been like on the other post-Damaged albums. Production is nice too, with old Henry a bit in the background. 7/10 (Chris Collins)
The guy above is pretty dead on.. you've got good taste, man. This is the one redeeming record of later Black Flag and a pleasant surprise for me. It sounds like a post-hardcore Television or what TV sounded like live (where they actually deigned to ROCK). Sculpted lead guitar figures with a solid, generally hard rock (assertive, energized) rather than heavy metal (slow, depressive) foundation. Rollins/Ginn's hokey evil-male schtick pops up again in the awful second and third tunes but mostly is suppressed in favor of music. Melodies outweigh dirges. "Paralysed", title track, "Retired at 21" are rock you don't need to get stoned to get into. "Society's Tease" sounds like fucking Motley Crue, but "Out of this World" has drive and power to burn. "You Let Me Down" - what a mindfuck of a Ginnchord! It's not Damaged, but then what the hell is? Good swan song guys.. almost enough to make me forget Slip It In.
In My Head is Probably Black Flag's 3rd best effort! (#1-Jealouse Again #2-Nervouse Breakdown) I used to get stoned and listen to this album.When you listen to it sober, it sounds real good but the lead guitar sounds a little sloppy but cool at the same time. When you listen to it stoned, the guitar playing is amazing, the solos sound beautiful ,it doesn't sound sloppy,and it all makes perfect sence!!!! This is the best Henry album. I can't live with out this album,Jealouse again,and Nervouse break down. Those are the best three and Black Flag's last studio album ended on a good note! People say that this album is "jazzy" though, I do't hear any fuckin' jazz on this album, but it still kicks ass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Colin T.
great great great.. nothing like it! retired at 21! out of this world! sock it to 'em.
Another good record that I heard the songs from "10 1/2" first, and was disappointed with the studio album. If "Loose Nut" sounds like it was recorded in a tin can, this one sounds like it was done inside of a drain pipe! Evidently Ginn was really hating Rollins at this point, and mixed the vocals really low. It's interesting, it does push forward with a new sound. This and Loose Nut pretty much document the last phase of true late-era Flag - both were recorded with Bill Stevenson and Kira.

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I Can See You ep - SST 1989.
rating = 6

Pointless posthumous release. The happy-go-notey title track, eerie speed rocker "Out Of This World," and dumb "You Let Me Down" can be found on the CD version of In My Head, and the short hokey "Kickin' And Stickin'" isn't really worth owning anyway. Good enough, but a wise consumer wouldn't bother. Wouldn't buy a Hootie album either, probably.

Reader Comments (Jennifer Allen)
I'm warning you!!!

Colin T.
warning what?!? anyway, here's some MORE songs mark doesn't know what to do with.
I don't know what the fuck this is. The one song that is supposedly "new" already can be heard on the great "Lovedolls Superstar" soundtrack (much recommended!). It's a good tune, but this EP isn't needed if you get that.

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Who's Got The 10 1/2? - SST 1986.
rating = 6

Don't strain your bean trying to decipher the title. It's a penis joke. This is a live album released shortly before Greg Ginn pulled the plug. New drummer Anthony Martinez kicks all sorts of ass, but Greg ruins some good songs by missing every third note, and the extended humpin' joke / wank jam bogs down side two big ol' time. Good songs, though - mostly taken from Loose Nut. Henry doesn't lose his voice like on Live '84, and they thankfully stay away from the Family Man and Process Of Weeding Out (bad instrumental ep I don't own) crapola that stunk up that product so horrifically. Still, like most bands, the Black Flags sound better in the studio. In fact, Flipper might be the only band I can think of whose live recordings were more entertaining than their studio ones. BF got too dopey in concert.

In summary, Black Flag was a band who, when they played it smart, did a real good job making aggressive loud rock and roll, but Greg's fixation on sex and partying (or is it "anti-sex" and "anti-partying?" Who can tell?), coupled with his weak sense of rhyme ("You're really burnin' it up / Partyin' and such!") and abysmal solo stylings, certainly create a "dumb" impression that sticks with you for quite an amount of measurable time. Deal or ignore. And, just so you know, Kira is married to famous Firehose (I capitalize what I want, when I want) bassist Mike Watt, Greg Ginn owns SST records, and Henry Rollins is an alternative megastar, thanks to the force and majesty of mediocre dreck like "Liar" and "Low Self Opinion." That's how it goes in the wonderful world of capitalism. Henry's albums are good, but his hits - the ones that sell - are unbelievably poorly-written. Kids dig garbage! Bush? Alanis? Nineteen out of twenty bands in heavy rotation at MTV? Oh, where are the Black Flags of yesteryear?

Reader Comments (Geoffrey King)
wait, anthony martinez is a good drummer? are you some kind of damned idiot? he is nowhere near as good as Bill Stevenson. Bill Stevenson is the most amazing drummer of all time. (Rana Ghose)
If you think Live '84 is a waste of magnetic tape then i assume you particularly do not enjoy the first track, "The Process Of Weeding Out". If this is so, you won't like the TPOWO ep. More instrumentals, not as blistering as those on Family Man, more apt to be pegged as Ornette Colemanish free jazz noodlings combined with lawnmowers and tractors. I love it, especially the last track "Southern Rise". The mix accentuates all three musicians equally well, which is choice cos they all deserve it. Big amps. Hows that. Don't be afraid, seek and ye shall be rewarded. Stay fresh. (Matt Hargrove)
I can't believe you blasted the Process....--this is one of my faves. Four songs of Greg taking us into guitar-land. Lovely. (Jennifer Allen)
Scooter up there is now proclaimed an idiot in The land of the Flag, stupid fuck. (Dan Gold)
Black Flag is a damned good band, but if you want to listen to an even better hardcore band around for just as long, buy a Bad Brains album. (I recommend their live album, The Youth are Getting Restless). (Tage Smith)
They fuckin ruled because they sang about inner-struggle and depression (i can relate to what they they were saying). Songs like "Three Nights," "Society's Tease," "My War," and "Damaged." Ginn's lyrics about such things are very powerful (fuckin genius, he was). (Layne Browning)
I was at this show. At the Starry Night in Portland, August 85. SWA opened up (Dukowski's band) along with Tom Trocolli's Dog. Greg played with Dog for about an hour, then had about an hour break, then the Flag hit the stage. That might be why you hear Greg missing notes. I thought Dog sucked, but after their set I heard at least 10 people comment on Greg's absolutely flawless playing during the Dog set. I'll have to go listen to this again and see if we are hearing the same thing.

It seems that what you're a real fan of is pop music. Rock, punk or otherwise, is a live music like jazz. The point of music is music not instrumental backing for a vocalist punching out the cookie cutter structure of verse chorus verse chorus. Your preference for studio albums over live recordings suggests that you believe rock bands should produce the unraw, disco-like sounds of overproduced sounds of the Eagles or the Smiths.
one question....if you don't like black flag, why the hell do you have this page? i mean, i'm not crazy about bon jovi, but i certainly don't spend my free time writing a web page just to piss on them. you must have no life....
You obviously suffer from Cranial Rectal Inversion. In case you are too stupid to read between the lines... your head is up your ass. (Chris Schwarz)
What can be said about Black Flag that hasn't already been said? They've been praised, lauded, ridiculed, harassed, ignored, condemned, imitated, et cetera. Say what you will, there's no denying the youthful (well, at least when they started out) exuberance and energy Black Flag displayed in their music and their attitude. Basically, they were an ensemble of no-talent kids who could barely play their instruments, but whatever they did manage to play was honest, catchy, balls-to-the-wall music that put some piss back in punk rock. That's enough hero worship for now, though. All of your Black Flag reviews are great, but I really think your site should include a review of the Wasted...Again album. I think that it's a great overview of Black Flag's legacy, as it spans the entire Black Flag existence (and line-up) with songs from early 7"s ("Jealous Again," "Wasted") and later, heavier releases ("Loose Nut," "Drinking And Driving," "Slip It In"). It was the last Black Flag album put out by SST; a "greatest hits" compilation, I suppose you could say. The only downside is that it's missing the song "Nervous Breakdown." Nonetheless, it's a good album and definitely one a novice Black Flag listener might want to consider as a well-rounded introductory course to the band. (David)
My thoughts on 'Flag...

Black Flag were THE perfect combination of all the music that swarmed in the heads of Ginn and Dukowski: Stooges, MC5, King Crimson, Ornette, Miles, 'Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Beefheart, Hawkwind, Ramones, Velvets, etc. Talk of "punk", "metal", "hardcore", "jazz-metal-punk", "avant-noise" or whatever are useless. Black Flag created their own non-categorizable musical genre through years of hard work and next to no reward. I first heard them 13 years ago and still say they were one of the finest - and undoubtably most important - band(s) of their era. Claiming to know dick about contemporary music without having heard the likes of Damaged, My War, Slip It In or In My Head is a shallow notion indeed. Ginn is the quintessential rock guitarist, and shame on you, Mark, for your lack of respect.

If anything, Black Flag sound better now than ever. 10 years ago the second side of My War bored the crap outta me, but now I can recognise it for the genre-bending proto-Melvins avant-drone that it is, and The Process of Weeding Out is simply one of the great instrumental guitar records of the '80s (not that I can actually think of many contenders...). Pure free-jazz-rock mayhem the way the MC5 shoulda done it.

Black Flag are the ultimate rock band for the culturally dispossessed. (Jared Perkins)
who in the hell can you come off saying greg ginn isnt a good guitar player. ginn was, and still the best guitarist ever. if ginn was'nt in the band black flag would have never made it considering that he wrote most of the lyrics, and produced most of there albums. black flag has stood the test of time, and their music will live on, and you should think next time before you say something that stupid. (James L. Tichenor)
There seems to be a LOT of controversy and differing opinions on this band. I for one am sick of people picking on Henry- yes he sucked as a singer and his lyrics weren't exactly poetic, but dagnamit- he didn't ruin Black Flag and he didn't turn their music into metal. Greg Ginn was a brilliant musician who had diverse taste in music- the change in the music coincidentally happened after Henry joined, but was NOT because of him. He was just the singer- always was always will be. No, the music changed because it was exactly where Ginn wanted to go with it. I'd agree if people said drugs had a hand in it. It's not a secret that Ginn was a TOTAL pothead by the time they were recording stuff like Family Man and The Process.... This is amazing fucking stuff when you toke. Instead of sounding like a horribly 80's metal soloist, Ginn sounds like he is manipulating shrieks and horribly noisy slippery stinging drones. The lyrics that once sounded absurdly simple have so much meaning and are very direct- which is why Henry enunciates TOO damn much- when you toke its perfect- you can understand him exactly. The band has this rare quality of playing their songs and while they're playing it seems like they're playing just for you- singing just for you. Taking into account that Ginn smoked alot i find it really hard to believe that this is just coincidence. I think he was a genius who knew exactly what he was doing. "Slip It In" sounds exactly like what the lyrics are about. The tone he uses is perfect for the slippy slidey riff. Oh. Get it? No wonder it's called "Slip It In". It's really fucking embarrasing but i always get a stiffy when i smoke up and listen to it- it's that good. Maybe i just smoke to much reefer i dont know. Ginn was influenced by MC5 and the Stooges just as much as he was influenced by Sabbath. There's the metal connection. C'mon, anyone who is familiar with Sabbath will recognize much more than a passing resemblance in songs like "Modern Man" and "My War". So no, Henry did not ruin the band. Ginn just decided that he was sick of three chord rock and look what we have here- artistic progress! Wow, what a concept. So maybe the Rat pedal ain't the most punk sounding or coolest or even heaviest distortion- but it was just right for the concepts and ideas presented in Ginn's music. Listen to "Sinking" again. Have you ever heard a more perfect union between the ideas of the lyrics and the audio representation of it? I think not. That song sinks through the fucking floor- it's SO fucking depressing.

I used to hate Ginn's soloing, but now he is a god in my book. Yeah, a god. Just listen- he was moving in the direction of the later stuff as early as "Jealous Again" with Dez. Soloing was TABOO in the hardcore scene and he wasn't afraid to do it. It sounds like Chuck Berry assaulting a distortion ridden guitar. And then there is "Machine" which is the predecessor of the concept behind the masterpiece "Sinking". Ginn's guitar playing on that song sounds EXACTLY like a machine- Concept, lyrics and music become as one. It's brilliant. No, maybe its not catchy- and believe me, im a sucker for a good hook as much as the next guy, but it is memorable. You have a firm impression of the mood and music imprinted in your mind after you hear a Flag record. In my humble opinion- Ginn got even better as he went along. So in conclusion to this goddamn mini-essay- Get drunk to the first 2 Flag records and smoke up to the rest. Thank you.
My friend bought this album and said that I should listen to it because it's "great" Well I gave it a listen and I was very disapointed! Gregg Ginn was a sloppy guitar player with no selfcontrol in the first place, but the playing on this album is awful! He fails to execute anything that sounds good.The solos are worse than the solos on the studio albums. I was very disappointed.I'm just glad he's a better guitar player now unlike he was back then.(Which by the way, Any doubts you have about Gregg Ginn will be removed if you hear 90% of his solo work and colaberations that came out in the late 90's.He doesn't play guitar solos though,but his riffs are genius and quirky (it's almost like lead guitar playing)and I bet he could actually play guitar solos now if he wanted to! He obtained self control and he can play a lot faster and he plays with more melody!)
Black Flag lived on the road, so you would think that there's got to be at least one source tape from a show that really demonstrates their live prowess. To date, unfortunately, there's nothing that's been officially released to bear witness of anything more than average (Live '84) or fairly good (Who's Got The 10 1/2?). Even more sad, we have no live document of this band before Ginn felt the need to combine Garcia/Coleman/Iommi into his playing. So of the two official live albums, this one is as good as you're going to get. One gets the sense that things aren't ok in the B.F. camp at this point as the Rollins rant that gives the inspiration for the album title points out. Hank's ire is pointed squarely at Kira instead of the muscleheads that used to get on his nerves in shows past. Greg, meanwhile tries to wrestle so much "jazz" out of his six string that he comes off as downright sloppy in some tunes. But give the guy a break: he's playing his 90 pound heart out in a 100 degree club after playing his 90 pound heart out in a 100 degree club for the opening band. Notes get missed, but wasn't a lack of ability one of the cornerstones of punk rock anyway. Greg would probably also retort that there are no wrong notes in jazz, seconds before putting in a bootleg live recording of the Dead's "Dark Star" from one of their shows in '72.

I'll stand my ground and say that I'm no fan of the majority of Flag material after Damaged, but understand why some people are. Mudhoney's Mark Arm being one champion, and who's one to argue with him? Suprisingly though, I don't mind some of the '83-'85 tunes that fill this release recorded during that hot (temperature, not performance) summer tour of '85. B.F. recruited a technical skinsman, Anthony Martinez, for the tour prompting this reviewer to believe that Greg really started to think of himself as some kind of jazz guitarist. More like spazz guitarist. In any event, I can actually tolerate "Annihilate," "In My Head," "Loose Nut" from this release rather than their original studio brethren. But that's just me. I'll even admit to not fast forwarding through probably the worst song Ginn's ever written, "Slip It In," as it segues right into the crowd favorite "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie." You can barely hear Kira's cooing on this version, which is a good thing.

Who's Got The 10 1/2? combines a fairly good set list plus a fairly good performance and equals a (sigh) fairly good live release that could have, scratch that, should have been, so much better. This would be their best (live) one yet.
Man oh man. this is a solid document of late-era Flag. When I go back to it after all these years, I do think there are a few clunkers... The boring "jam" and the "Wasted / Gimme Gimme Gimme / Who's Got The 10 1/2" medley just haven't stood the test of time. But the tunes from Loose Nut & In My Head attain a rawness and looseness and Stooges-like power that they lack on the studio albums. The new drummer Anthony Martinez ain't Bill Stevenson but he is up to snuff (why Greg, did you axe so many good players! Why Bill? Why Kira??? Why Dukowski???? They were all GREAT!) If you want an introduction to late-era Flag, this is the one.


As a matter of fact, I would consider the recordings of all the Loose Nut & In My Head songs to be the definitive versions (at least of all the ones that have thus far been released). Tunes like Annihilate This Week, Bastard In Love, I'm The One and Modern Man are incredible here! I still don't know why Hank sings songs like "Wasted" when he is anti-drinking, at least I don't detect any sarcasm on this version, and it's not even a good version, the group sounds bored as if they're trying to rush through their obligational "hit song". How I would love to hear the outtakes from these concerts!!! Dear Mr Ginn, please release a boxed set! Please release every darned Black Flag recording ever made, live or otherwise, and let us pick our own favorites!!

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Muskrat Love - Bootleg 1986.
rating = 7

Recorded on April 30, 1986, this bootleg has a much better song list than 10 1/2 (mostly focusing on those killer In My Head tunes), but the sound is really muffled. You can hear all the instruments, but you hear them in a muffly mono mix. Still, it's supercool to hear Greg recreate those bonus/complex guitar note lines he crafted for the final Flag album, and "Paralysed" is played with a straight midtempo beat! It sounds almost like a normal rock song! Plus it's neat to hear Henry SCREAM songs like "I Can See You," "Black Love" and "White Hot," since Greg buried his vocals way in the background in the studio versions. Only real assfuck is this HIDEOUS 15-minute jam called "Monkey House Jam" that goes nowhere and nowhere fast. Luckily, it's a double album, so you can kinda pretend that the jam never happened. I'm also not sure that "Swinging Man" needed to go on for 10 minutes, but what the frig?

Reader Comments (Morris Harris)
no shit

Colin T.
you missed the best part about this; well, one of the best parts.... "Retired at 21" rips the shit out of the version that's on In My Head. Here, it becomes a fast, hard rocker. And Henry's shrieking is just perfect, especially when it melts into the guitar whine right before the first solo. Amazing. It's great how, in a live setting, Black Flag was able to convert the atmospheric songs of the album into kick ass rock. Basically, this is proof against everything negative anyone has ever said about the band.

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