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Archive for the ‘Punk’ Category

Everything Went Black

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Black Flag is surely the pinnacle of the first American Hardcore movement the late 70’s and early 80’s. Their first LP, Damaged [1981], is frequently looked at as their most defining work of theirs as well as the entire movement. But in a lot of ways, Damaged was a major shift in direction for a band that had already spent 4 years establishing and defining a new punk. Damaged was the introduction of the young and angry lead singer of DC Hardcore band S.O.A., Henry Rollins. Though plenty enthusiasts-myself included find Rollins work to be great (but very different), many Hardcore originals/purists think Rollins was the start of the end of Black Flag, founder Gregg Ginn included. His brutal singing quality, his super serious tone, and his interest in spoken word were all a very new direction for the Black Flag of the 78-81 years.

In reality though, I think Rollins was thrown into a terrible situation in which he couldn’t win. He came in as the new singer, at the peak Black Flag’s success. Many of the songs that were recorded for the Damaged LP had already become favorites with former singers. His new style was abrasive to the fans that were comfortable with the old Black Flag. Most importantly though, Black Flag founder and sole writer of music and lyrics (at that time), had a new direction for the band. He didn’t want to make another Damaged or Nervous Breakdown even. He was getting more and more into slow, heavy metal, citing late Sabbath as a major influence. The B side to their follow up LP, My War, was full on slow metal punk fusion(Scream Live). From then on, the band’s sound would change forever. Though he was fully in possession of the direction of the band, he left Henry out in front as the guy to take the blame for everything. Ginn was not the guy who got beat up, have shit thrown at, and spat on at every show. It was Rollins. Rollins documented many of his disenchanted tour stories (check this out) in his book “Get in the Van” (Ginn claims it’s mostly lies). Rollins seemed to get beat up at nearly every show.

After that Rollins back story, let’s step back again. The release of Damaged led Black Flag to a long legal battle that prevented them from properly releasing another album for several years. Originally it was intended to be distributed by Unicorn Records, a subset of MCA. After the first pressing of the album was pressed, MCA decided they wanted no part of the record. As a result members of Black Flag had to go to the pressing plant, and place a sticker on top of the MCA Distribution logo. First pressings can be be differentiated easily, as they are the only records to have this sticker [my record and thumb shown to the right]. Black Flag’s own label SST took up distribution immediately after. As a result of SST’s new distribution plan, Unicorn sued for breach of contract. Under a court order, Black Flag was then not able to release another album for nearly three years until the claim was settled (81-83). Unable to release anything, the band continued to practice and tour fervently. Of course though, and as you could imagine, they still released an album. They decided to release a compilation album compiling nearly all of their songs before Rollins’ introduction (78-81), in chronological order, starting with singer Keith Morris, briefly Ron Reyes, and then Dez Cadena. So as to dodge the issue, they pained white over the Black Flag logo, and only displayed their names in text on the front cover. Only the first pressing includes this format. Following pressings came after the lawsuit was settled, and had a new cover with the logo unmarked, as well as big Black Flag text. I just won this baby on an ebay auction recently in near mint condition! In another article (my first here), I talked about the importance of first pressings. But this is a particularly cool instance, where it is a real document of a very specific time in history(pretty sweet Pettibon cover too!).

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Written by RocksRocksRocks

May 19, 2008 at 11:35 pm

The Sound’s Jeopardy – Anthems of the Heartland

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Being born in the middle of the Eighties, the Cold War was merely something I read about in history class. But based on what my textbooks and The History Channel tell me, it was a time of paranoia and Us vs. Them. Nuclear winter was imminent at any notice; all someone had to do was push a little red button and it was all over.

That said, I don’t know what that feeling was like. Terrorism is too local and isolated of a phenomenon for me to really lose sleep over, these days. During the Cold War, we were talking about full-on nuclear war. That amount of fear and dread is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. But I feel that if there was one ideal document for those feelings, it would be The Sound’s 1980’s debut album, Jeopardy.

Released on the Korova label (home to fellow gloomy new wavers Echo & The Bunnymen), on the surface it sounds like any other English band with eyeliner and guitars. It was dark and it was brooding. But the lyrics paint a different picture, with the focus seemingly on socio-political aspects of the times. England in 1980 was not a time for beautiful music. Thatcherism was the new modus operandi. Punk rockers pointed their fingers and blamed “them,” post-punk singers blamed themselves.

But Adrian Borland’s lyrics screamed of something beyond self-pity and doubt. Guided by a steady rhythm section that churned methodically like a heartbeat, he found his source of anguish beyond and within England’s borders. On “Missiles,” he finds it in the military-industrial complex that ran the world as he knew it. “Heartland” seemingly mocks (or supports?) the political nationalism of the era.

The band would follow up with 1981’s also-excellent From The Lion’s Mouth, but nothing would come close to the highs the band achieved with this record. Tragically, Adrian Borland would end up committing suicide in 1999.

Download: Live Instinct EP

[In 2002, Jeopardy was reissued with the four-song concert recording Live Instinct EP as bonus tracks. It has since gone back out of print.]

Written by Carman

May 8, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Dan Deacon/Foot Village Record Release

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At about 1:30am Tuesday morning, drenched with sweat, we all slowly started pouring out of the Smell after Dan Deacon’s performance. I looked at my friend Ian and all he could say was “Wow”. Wow indeed. We were completely exhausted but couldn’t be any more elated. It was a truly special night at the Smell.

Hosted by Sean Carnage this past Monday night was LA’s finest drumming quartet- Foot Village’s record release party. It was jam packed with 6 bands, promptly starting after the doors opened at 9. There were rumors for at least a week that Electro-God Dan Deacon would be making an appearance. By Monday afternoon, The Smell officially announced it on their site. I figured by then the cat was out of the bag, and it would be just insanity. It strangely though never got too packed, but I will say that the 100 or so people that did file in last night, left shocked& awed (!!!). Read the rest of this entry »

Written by RocksRocksRocks

April 8, 2008 at 10:29 pm

New Vinyls- Lou Reed(Metal Machine) + Plugz (Better Luck)

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So in the past two weeks I’ve bought three vinyls that I’ve been looking quite hard for. I haven’t given them the spins they deserve yet, but I’m getting there. While collecting records, I’ve realized I’ve become somewhat obsessed with getting the original/first pressing. That obviously makes my search a lot more expensive and tedious, but more exciting too. The feeling I get when I grab an original pressing with an 8 buck sticker at Ameoba is so rewarding (Black Flag-Damaged, Butthole Surfers-Brown Reason to Live…etc). Seeing them sold on E-bay for a lot more is also fun to see, but I have no interest in selling them. Beyond their obvious monatary value, I think there is a bit of romanticism in first pressings. It’s a piece of history. It’s what was released when the artist had no idea if more than 10 would sell. THAT, is exciting to me. Re-pressings just don’t hold that quality. I dont feel the same connection with the history in re-presses. That being said, below are my 3 recent purchases, one an original pressing, another an original German pressing, and the last a total repress.

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Written by RocksRocksRocks

March 21, 2008 at 10:36 pm