Many Black Flag fans called this record unlistenable, total shite. Well, it’s this writer’s opinion that those people were actually not Black Flag fans. They were punk poseurs who should go and listen to Damaged until their little one-track brains finally finish the shriveling process begun at their birth.
I’m not knocking Damaged, mind you. It’s one of my Favourite Albums Of All Time. Seriously. But Black Flag was that, surely, and so much more than that, too. As time went on, they morphed and became a complete entity, growing into a tight unit of excellent musicians who could rip into a ten minute jazz-punk instrumental just as easily as they could blow your head off by playing Rise Above or Clocked In. Best of all, they really couldn’t have cared less about what people thought of what they were doing. If you can find something more in keeping with the supposed punk ethos than that, let me know.
Family Man is a spoken word disc for the first half, and an instrumental disc for the remainder. The spoken-word stuff is Rollins’ usual riffs on anger, frustration and violence. It’s punk/beat poetry, pure and simple. The tracks are short, but they pack one helluva wallop. The instrumental tracks would be perfect as the soundtrack to the end of America. Punk freak-outs and spacy riffs of alienation and disjointed citizenship that raise a healthy middle finger at a country the band had already written off as fat, boring and lost.
This disc especially shows Greg Ginn for the guitar genius he was at the time. Some of the sounds he strangles out the neck of his instrument are sonic proof that hard work and vision can pay huge dividends. It’s worth it to play this record for his work alone.
The nay-sayers can go get stuffed. Black Flag was an interesting, challenging band from the day they started until the day they ended, and this record stands up well in their discography. If you don’t play it because it forces you to think while you listen, that’s fine. But you’re missing out on one helluva lot, and you’re only further proving their point.