Been busy with budget these last few weeks, thus the absence of any new postings, but here we go with yet another installment of the list!
The contention with some punks back-in-da-day was that Black Flag went metal on their collective asses in 1984, the year they released 4 albums (Family Man, Live ’84, My War and Slip It In). Family Man is half spoken word (Henry Rollins, ‘natch…) and half instrumental, an odd choice that certainly alienated some fans but in hindsight was about the most punk rock move they could have made at that point. Like most Black Flag albums, bar the reunion one, Family man was influential to a number of bands and even to Henry Rollins himself who would, as time went on, spend more time talking politics than screaming into a microphone.
The second LP was My War, which remains one of my favorites, even though the critics bash it all the time and is certainly not the fan favorite by any stretch. It’s a sludgy, noisy album mainly influenced, I think, by Black Sabbath’s first 5 records, primarily Master Of Reality. That said the title track is probably my favorite Black Flag song PERIOD. Lastly, My War had a massive influence on grunge (for better and for worse), something that makes sense when you stop and think about it.
Guitarist Greg Ginn never played better than he did on Black Flag’s third album of 1984, Slip It In, and while the title track contains some bullheaded frat boy lyrics (It could be meant as ironic, and if Rollins penned the lyrics it probably is, but still…) musically it remains a stunning effort and high point for the band. Black Coffee hearkens back to the days of Damaged although like most of the tracks on these albums the running time triples or quadruples most of their early songs, something that perplexed and aggravated most punks used to 2-minutes and done.
They also released a live album that same year which is pretty fantastic, Live ’84. I haven’t heard this in ages, and Allmusic tells me it was a cassette only release. Maybe I’ll hop on Ebay and see if I can russle up a copy. I’ll leave the last words to critic John Dougan, who sums up this album, and subsequently this period of Black Flag’s carreer, better than I ever could. Here we go:
“Keeping up with their furious pace came Live ’84, a cassette-only release of a standard (for them anyway) Black Flag gig. Opening up with an eight-and-a-half-minute hardcore/punk/jazz instrumental, “The Process of Weeding Out” (which came from an earlier Black Flag instrumental EP of the same title), it was abundantly clear that Black Flag were no longer just another punk band; as much as they loved to kick out the jams, they also loved destroying the audience’s preconceived notions of how punk bands were supposed to behave. Running at 70 minutes, this is a terrific live recording of Black Flag at their performing peak.”