From the Vault...


Black Flag

© Columbia Records

Year of Release: 1981

track listing
  • Rise Above
  • Spray Paint
  • Six Pack
  • What I See
  • TV Party
  • Thirsty And Miserable
  • Police Story
  • Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie
  • Depression
  • Room 13
  • Damaged II
  • No More
  • Padded Cell
  • Life Of Pain
  • Damaged I

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    Black Flag related sites:
    Black Flag Website
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    Sheryl Crow--Tuesday Night Music Club
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    Black Flag

    Black Flag was a loud, Punk Rock band, that included a singer by the name of Henry Rollins. He would achieve his own career with the Rollins Band. For those who enjoy loud, thrashing, hardcore Punk, this is it. Black Flag's Damaged release from 1981 was at the peak of Punk, as it first emerged in the late 1970s. Damaged would be the band's debut album, although they did record before Rollins joined the band. Rollins would remain with Black Flag, from 1981 to 1986. They released six albums with Rollins.

    Damaged is Loud. Damaged is Thrash. Damaged is Hardcore. Damaged is Punk. Damaged is Black Flag.

    Other Punk bands such as The Sex Pistols, and The Ramones were getting their spotlight. Comparing these two bands to Black Flag is what you'd expect. Also, another band that would later emerge much later, would be the early Metallica. And even Alice Cooper's first album Pretties For You.

    Black Flag would be one of the pioneers of the post-hardcore genre for the experiemntal style they later started playing in Punk. Their experimentation included that of a sludge metal sound, and other elements of jazz, blues, spoken word, heavy metal blues rock, free jazz, math rock, and instrumental music. All of these styles would evolve in Rollins' music after he left Black Flag. (This is very interesting for me, as I enjoy all styles of music.)

    "Rise Above" leads the album off, as this is what primarily what Punk Rock should sound like. The short 34-second "Spray Paint" gets its' hardcore rise. Some more good, hardcore punk is heard on "Six Pack," and "TV Party." If you're into thrash, fast, speed punk, there's "Thirsty And Miserable," and also hard rock'ish punk/early Metallica'ish on "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie" and "Police Story." A controversial cartoon drawing of "Police Story" -- It showed a police officer with a gun in his mouth, with a speech blurb, stating "Make me come, faggot!" Of course, this drew the attention of the police towards the band, as the image's author and brother of bandmember Greg Ginn, Raymond Pettibon remarked: "my values are relativistic, and I'll give a cop the benefit of the doubt. If that's me with my gat - my gat's larger than the one depicted -- we can have a discussion, and he can answer me just as well with my .357 barrel in his mouth, or on his cheek, or on his adenoids, or down his throat. I'll listen to his whimpering cries." Henry Rollins would acknowledge/admire Pettibon's drawing work ethics.fs Pettibon would create much of the band's future album covers. He was also the creator or the band's logo -- a stylized black flag represented as four black bars. Pettion stated "if a white flag means surrender, a black flag represents anarchy."

    The early Alice Cooper has the comparison on "What I See," likewise on the what sounds like a horror soundtrack, of it's intro, "Life Of Pain," and the album's closing track, "Damaged I." Loud and Hardcore gets "Depression" and "Damaged II." A Ramones compare gets "Room 13." The building up to another tradiitonal Punk style is heard on "No More." More Loud Punk gets "Padded Cell."

    Henry Rollins would be the focus of Black Flag, as he would become the band's longest duration singer. The comparisons to the Sex Pistols and the Ramones would be great for them, and as most would say, Black Flag would be the better band. Their name and music may not be as popular, yet it would begin the career of Henry Rollins, another unique and distincive musician in the Punk and Post-Punk era. Again mentioning about the post-Black Flag career of Henry Rollins -- him having different styles of music. This would become part of Black Flag's future releases, and the beginning stages of Rollins' solo career.

    Like most Punk bands, their musical abilities are probably not meant for all ears. Yet, they were a band that would capture the core sound of Punk Rock music. As mentioned, they were not as popular, but they helped shape other Punk bands and artists that would follow. Somewhere down the road, Black Flag could just get the nod for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This is a question yet to be answered, and for those who were huge fans of the band, likewise for Henry Rollins, it would be interesting if either one of both, Black Flag and Rollins will ever achieve their names into the Rock Hall of Fame.

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    Sheryl Crow--Tuesday Night Music Club
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    Village People--Go West