Black Flag – The First Four Years
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2008
Black Flag’s Nervous Breakdown EP is one of the most important records in my life, and I bought The First Four Years compilation, which features all the early Black Flag EPs pre-Henry Rollins. It’s ironic because I got into Black Flag by listening to tons of Henry Rollins spoken word CDs in late junior high-early high school and I never really liked the stuff he did with the band as much as the early stuff, in particular the stuff with Keith Morris (who, I might note, I saw sing “Nervous Breakdown” with Fucked Up at SXSW last year and FREAKED THE FUCK OUT). However, for Black Flag, unlike most bands, the vocalist didn’t really matter. It was a revolving door until Rollins came along and the music was just about playing as fast and loud as possible. I fucking love this record. When I was 16 I had Nervous Breakdown on cassette and would listen to it on the drive to work at AMC everyday and, if it hadn’t finished by the time I got there I’d sit in the car and turn the volume up as loud as possible, readying myself for the night of shit. I pretty much accuse that EP for getting me into punk rock. So having this is important, and when I saw it I grabbed it on impulse. I listened to that cassette SO MANY TIMES, and the best thing was, it was the same on both sides so when one ended it would flip over and start again. Non-stop. I learned that the Jealous Again EP is just as good as Nervous Breakdown (ok, maybe not as good, but really close) and I started jamming to that a lot. “No Values” is one of the greatest punk rock songs of all time. It’s like Ron Reyes is trying to spit on you through the speakers, a colossal fuck you to everyone and everything, it’s amazing. After that you get the classic “Six Pack” and a couple of songs that eventually ended up on Damaged. This (along with the Descendents Milo Goes to College) is the record I would give to anyone who wanted to know what punk rock was. I want No Age’s Weirdo Rippers to sound this good 25 years from now. Also, unlike the Beach Boys fucking awful cover of "Louie Louie," Black Flag actually improve upon the song. Seriously, fucking rules.