Black Flag

Showing 12 posts tagged Black Flag

Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown” single started everything off — four songs in six minutes.  Here’s the title track.

I first heard this one in a Santa Cruz skate video as Jeff Grosso skated a big ramp (maybe Fallbrook?). Around the same time, a friend gave me a mix tape with some more Flag stuff on it. I was confused — the music all sounded the same, but I wondered why every song seemed to have a different singer.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the perpetual ‘best singer’ argument.

Black Flag post #1: intro

In 2006 Continuum Press accepted my pitch to write a book on the Minutemen’s “Double Nickels On the Dime” album. I was psyched, of course, but also a little scared: the pressure of doing justice to what was (and is) my favorite record hung over my head throughout the process – as did the pressure of succeeding. All my life I’d wanted to write books. Early stabs were abject failures. I worried I was in over my head.

From February to the book’s Halloween due date, I listened to the record over and over, asked questions, worried, revised, and worked harder than I ever had before, ultimately producing a book I remain very fond of which answered the questions I had about each of the record’s 40-plus songs.

The day after I submitted the manuscript, I got the Black Flag bars tattooed on my arm.

Since then, I’ve met dozens of people with the same logo inked on their skin. The logo – the band – means something different to everyone. Which is part of my ongoing love of and fascination with Black Flag: they’re the subject of debate, adoration, scorn, or ridicule, depending on who’s doing the talking.

It’s been almost thirty years, and the band’s legacy still remains the subject of scrutiny and discussion. Michael Azerrad’s chapter of Our Band Could Be Your Life provides an overview for newcomers, as does Steven Blush’s American Hardcore, with Steve Chick’s Spray Paint the Walls filling in gaps with its thorough view of the band’s career. Joe Carducci’s Enter Naomi discusses Black Flag and guitarist Greg Ginn’s SST Records, as well as an eyewitness account of the band’s inner working and peer group, through the lens (sorry) of photographer Naomi Petersen. James Parker’s Turned On provides candid commentary on Black Flag’s fourth and final singer Henry Rollins’ five-year tenure in the band. Lastly, David Markey’s documentary Realty 86’d, recently unleashed online, follows the band’s last lineup on their final tour.

With all that said, what I’m doing this week isn’t an attempt to be comprehensive or innovative. There’s so much to consider when weighing Black Flag’s career, recorded output, and legacy that certain points stick in my head. These are the points I’ll be talking about this week, accompanied by video. I’ll move in vaguely chronological order, with some discussion of the band’s first three singers, before focusing on their albums and some of the questions they raise later on in the week.

Thanks for reading!