Maty’s Corner #33
I Was Wasted and Became Damaged!
Starting in 1976 Hermosa Beach, CA was Black Flag. That’s right; the most influential hard core band predates most punk. Though from 76 to late 78 they were known as Panic. This amazing unit has burned through more people than an urban wild fire and their influence on both punk rock and skate boarding has had the same effect and intensity. Their ranks have included some of the South Bay scene’s heaviest hitters, including the Descendent’s Bill Stevenson on drums for five years. So drop in and learn or review a thing or two about these guys.
Black Flag’s first releases are best summed up by The First 4 Years comp. This came out in 1983 and collects all the tracks for Nervous Breakdown, Jealous Again, and Six Pack) arguably the best EPs by any band ever). This covers the first three vocalists. That was Keith Morris who would go on to front Circle Jerks and OFF! Chavo who would return and professionally wound this band a few decades later. And Dez Cadena who would move to guitar for some of the band’s best material.
1981 gave us Black Flag’s first full album. This was the beginning of the Rollins era. One of the most power house front men in punk and most of rock. This is opens with Rise Above which is a song that has a life of its own. Off of this we also got Six Pack and T.V. Party. This is one of the most influential albums in music itself.
1984 gave us My War. Instead of trying to re-create Damaged, they chose to evolve creatively. This was much to the chagrin of many punks. It’s part hard core album, part doom metal. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s fucking amazing. This album was influential for many sludge artists, such as Long Beach’s Dystopia, check ‘em out if you want some heavy sounding shit.
1984 gave us the strangest album, Family Man. It’s part amazing spoken word by Rollins and part weird instrumental stuff. It has one of the creepiest Ray Pettibon (Black Flag’s artist, Ginn’s younger brother and founding bassist) artwork. I’ll admit he Greg Ginn instrumentals on this album seemed a bit self indulgent, but it’s still a pretty cool album.
1984 (yes they managed to record and release 3 albums in a year) brought us Slip It In. It opens with the gnarly sex song title track. The other stand out is an all time favorite of mine, Black Coffee. This went back to what Black Flag was doing on My War. Which was a good thing after the avante whatever on Family Man.
1985 brought out Loose Nut. The best track off of this was Annihilate This Week. This album saw further experimentation of the Black Flag sound and Rollins continuing to deliver everything the only way he can, amazing. There are a couple other great tracks off of this. Despite all the complaints, I give the band props for never trying to re-create an older album.
1985 also busted out with what would be their final album for 28 years, In My Head. Notable tracks off of this are Drinking and Driving and Retired at 21. This had a few more straight up songs than some of the previous albums. Still as good as anything Black Flag had been putting out.
2013 Black Flag had returned with a new album that I have no kind words for. Chavo was back on vocals and the delivery was an absolute abortion. What The.. is an apt title for this thing. Chavo was so bad that then manager Mike Vallely shit canned him mid show on the tour and took the mic to finish the tour out. So now skate boarding’s bad ass of Mike V is the voice of Black Flag. I am hopeful for the next album and subsequent tour. So Check out those other Black Flag releases if you’ve not given them a chance before. And don’t let Greg Ginn’s legal drama cloud how awesome this band is.