September 3, 2008 Playlist

The Psychedelic Punk Special
Black Flag's Greg Ginn wearing a Grateful Dead T-shirt
"My War" by Black Flag (1983)
Black Flag  "My War"  1984 (USA)
To me, Black Flag is by far the most important American "punk band."  I'm sure this assessment will meet with plenty of disagreement, not least of all because there is so much arguing about what is or is not "punk."  Nerdy stoner Greg Ginn founded the band in 1977 after being energized by the Sex Pistols and Ramones (previously his tastes had run towards hippie sounds like The Grateful Dead.)  Their first batch of 7" EP's, commencing with Nervous Breakdown in 1978, defined the "hardcore"  style of punk.  The previous wave of punks from New York and London had already shorn rock songs down to what seemed like the bare essentials, but Black Flag went a step further and distilled the sound down to 50-second blasts of pure aggression.  And when Henry Rollins joined as lead singer in 1981, he perfected an emotionally cathartic style that similarly did the gnashing and wailing of earlier punks one better.  Legal problems kept the band from releasing any records during 1982-83, and when they finally put out My War in early 1984, the near universal reaction was one of derision -- because they seemed to go in the opposite direction of their previous style, favoring long, slow, heavy songs with almost jazzy guitar solos.  But flash forward five years, and My War turns out to be one of the seminal albums of the decade, having provided the blueprint for what would become known as "grunge" rock (the Melvins' Buzz Ozbourne has always said this album was a key influence on his group and all of the "heavy" Northwestern bands that grew out of the hardcore scene.)  Black Flag released another very strange record in 1984, Family Man which mainly consists of spoken word poetry by Rollins and guitar solo showcases for Ginn.  Clearly, they were not afraid to challenge their audience's expectations!  Just as important as Ginn's musical accomplishments with Black Flag was the SST record label he founded, the most important indie DIY label of the 1980's which released records by a vast array of underground American artists (including Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Husker Du, Bad Brains, Descendents, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur jr, Zoogz Rift, Roger Miller, Pat Smear, fIREHOSE, Screaming Trees, Soundgarden and Negativland!) 
There's lots of great Black Flag footage out there:  here's a live version of the song "My War", and here's "Slip It In", another heavy metal styled number.  But the group's most well-known song is undoubtedly "TV Party", which was featured in the movie Repo Man and for which they made a very cheap video which actually did get played in the very early days of MTV.  And here's some clips of their earlier hardcore incarnations:  first some performances (and interview on the subject of whether punks and hippies get along!) from the documentary The Rise And Fall Of Western Civilization;  next, here's "Rise Above" from 1981, with their most famous frontman Henry Rollins looking like a scary skinhead instead of a hippie on steroids.  And finally here's The  Hankster reciting "Family Man", one of his spoken word pieces which was also the title track to that other very strange Black Flag album from 1984.
(N) = New Release

Artist Song Album Year Country
The Who Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere A-side 7" single
(Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy compilation LP)
1965 UK
The Seeds Pushin' Too Hard The Seeds
1966 USA
The Velvet Underground I'm Waiting For The Man The Velvet Underground & Nico 1967 USA
The Monks Complication Black Monk Time 1966 USA/Germany
Love Seven And Seven Is Da Capo 1967 USA
The Deviants Garbage PTOOFF! 1967 UK
MC5 The American Ruse Back In The USA 1970 USA
The Pink Fairies Do It (single edit) B-side 7" single
(Never Never Land CD bonus track)
1971 UK
The Modern Lovers She Cracked The Modern Lovers rec. 1972,
rel. 1976
The Stooges No Fun The Stooges 1969 USA
Destroy All Monsters Bored A-side 7" single 1978 USA
Patti Smith Piss Factory B-side 7" single 1974 USA
The Neon Boys
(Richard Hell, Tom Verlaine, Billy Ficca)
That's All I Know Right Now B-side 7" single rec. 1973,
rel. 1980
The Soft Boys Wading Through A Ventilator Give It To The Soft Boys EP 1977 UK
Rocket From The Tombs What Love Is The Day The Earth Met The Rocket From The Tombs rec. 1975 USA
Pere Ubu Final Solution A-side 7" single
(Terminal Tower compilation CD)
1976 USA
Crime Hotwire My Heart A-side 7" single 1976 USA
Sonic Youth The World Looks Red Confusion Is Sex 1983 USA
Liars Every Two Hours With A Ducks Fan We No Longer Knew Who We Were EP 2002 USA
Chrome TV As Eyes Half Machine Lip Moves 1979 USA
Big Black I Can Be Killed Lungs EP 1982 USA
Butthole Surfers Graveyard 2 Locust Abortion Technician  1987 USA
Black Flag Beat My Head Against The Wall My War
1983 USA
Black Flag Nothing Left Inside My War
1983 USA
Melvins At A Crawl 10 Songs EP 1986 USA
Mudhoney In 'N' Out Of Grace Superfuzz Bigmuff Deluxe Edition (N - reissue)
(2008 Sub Pop)
Tad Wood Goblins Salt Lick EP 1990 USA
Nirvana Negative Creep Bleach 1989 USA
Black Flag Wasted Nervous Breakdown EP 1978 USA
Minutemen Tour-Spiel /
   More Spiel
Project: Mersh EP 1985 USA
Mission Of Burma Trem Two Vs. Deluxe Edition (N - reissue)
1982 (2008 Matador) USA
Meat Puppets Franklin's Tower (Grateful Dead) Meat Puppets (CD reissue - studio outtake) rec. 1981 USA
NoMeansNo A Little Too High One 2000 Canada
Peter Hammill Nadir's Big Chance Nadir's Big Chance 1975 UK
Public Image Ltd. Memories Second Edition (aka Metal Box) 1979 UK
Talking Heads Memories Can't Wait Fear Of Music 1979 USA
X The Unheard Music Los Angeles 1980 USA
Camper Van Beethoven No More Bullshit II & III 1986 USA
Twink Psychedelic Punkaroo Do It '77 EP 1978 UK
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