ARTIST: Black Flag
TITLE: My War
YEAR RELEASED: 1984
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES : Yeah…no.
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: My War,
LINEUP: Henry Rollins, Greg Ginn, Bill Stevenson. Ginn played bass as “Dale Nixon”
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After finally being rid of the Unicorn Record legal shitshow, Ginn and Black Flag unleash a polarizing and brilliant record.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This is the tale of two sides. Side one features the punk rock Black Flag as many fans then knew. With six slabs of punk, including the classic “My War” and other classic favorites that had been demoed in 1982 when they were a quintet. There were some wrinkles thrown in there, with tempo changes, guitar solos that were more jazz than punk, and introspective lyrics. Then the punk rock fans flipped the record over.
Instead of the typical six to eight songs on punk rock records, there were only three. All of them over six minutes long. And they were SLOGS. This was punk rock meeting Black Sabbath and developing a style which was quite influential on grunge and what was to become emo, but to many in the hardcore fan base, it was anathema.
“Nothing Left Inside” was the standout of the second side, and it was especially powerful live. The only misfire in my ears was the final track, which was the only one of the slow songs not co-written by Henry Rollins.
Listening to it now, you understand what they were trying to do, and in context of Black Flag, Henry Rollins, and alternative and punk rock, it doesn’t sound horribly out of place. But then, well, that was a different thing.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Bill Stevenson had to work hard to slow his drumming down on the songs for the second side. Also, Chuck Dukowski left or was fired, leaving Ginn to play the bass.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but the 1982 demos are available that cover songs that were going to be on this record and the next few studio albums.
GRADE A-: It’s probably still polarizing, and that second side is something I need to be in an exact mood for, but I get what they were getting at. Even then, punk rock was stifling, and Ginn and the band impelled it forward.