The First Four Years
Black Flag were among the leaders of the Los Angeles hardcore punk scene of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Their ability to distill suburban angst and boredom into short bursts of riotous intensity brought them instant notoriety and spurred critical debate over whether this torrential noise could actually be considered music. Listening many years later — after decades of hip-hop, nü-metal, industrial music and other extreme genres — it seems funny to think this music caused such a stir. The First Four Years collects Black Flag’s earliest releases, before Henry Rollins solidified the lead singer role and while guitarist Greg Ginn was finding ways to interpolate his manic Chuck Berry riffs and sped-up Ramones chords into the proper framework. With Keith Morris, Chavo, Dez Cadena and Chuck Dukowski handling the mic, “Nervous Breakdown,” “Jealous Again,” “White Minority” and “Six Pack” are the obvious “hits,” but the one-minute attack of “Revenge,” the battering of “Louie Louie” and sinister grind of “Damaged I” are among Black Flag’s most definitive statements of purpose. A glorious noise!