Subtitled: Christmas 2014, Pt.10
Black Flag – Everything Went Black
Ah, Black Flag. Constant source of creative genius, incredible talent, relentless hard work, and punk fuck-you. There were boundaries to be pushed, and these guys didn’t give a rat’s ass if fans got pissed if the new record sounded different than the last. In fact, they relished it. Each album was a challenge: are you in, or are you stagnant? Damn I love this band.
A Christmas gift from my generous brother-in-law, this CD shows (also) what a bad fan of the band I am. I mean, here it was Christmas 2014 and I was only getting this record (released in 1982, originally) now. In a way, though, this is to my advantage. There’s still Black Flag stuff out there I don’t have! Cool!
Collecting “previously unreleased Black Flag recordings 1978-1981,” (meaning, before Rollins took over lead vocals), the 25 tracks contained here are, as you can imagine, completely incendiary. The tracks’ vocalists on the CD list like this:
01-09 Keith Morris (credited as “Johnny Bob Goldstein”)*
10-14 Ron Reyes (credited as “Chavo Pederast”)
15-24 Dez Cadena
25 ‘Crass Commercialism’ is a collection of radio ads for Black Flag shows
Alright, administrative crap aside, what did I think of this CD? It fucking ruled! No matter who was singing, first and foremost my ear is always, always, ALWAYS drawn to Greg Ginn’s incredible guitar. The rest is just gravy. And what tasty gravy it is! I don’t fault any of this, it’s really a cool survey of all the different singers. The songs are just so damned strong, and each guy had his own approach and it all worked. Sweepingly general? I don’t think so. Listen to this, you’ll see!
So, you know I’m a Rollins fan, and you’re gonna ask: how do I compare it? Well, on the one hand that’s a silly thing to think about because they were a band long before he joined in (a famous story on its own) and the stuff they did was fucking awesome and it was as a fan of theirs that he even joined the band. On the other hand, it’s not really fair to compare. I think they all had strengths. I mean, Keith Morris? Get outta here.
Then again, since this entire web site is named after Room 13 (see our ABOUT section at the top of this page), listen to Dez Cadena do that song here, and then Rollins do it on Damaged and, well, Henry’s influence was obvious. And that’s cool.
And finally, I can hear you saying, well, what’s the difference between this and The First Four Years, that other CD that collects the early stuff before Rollins? And my answer is: who fucking cares? Get them both and crank them. Both are bombs going off in your stereo. Both are absolutely essential.
Merry Christmas indeed!
* Bryan Migdol played drums on tracks 1-9. Robo played drums on 10-24.