Sunday, September 10, 2006

Black Flag-Damaged (SST 1981)

The Landmark Of The Early 80s US Original Hardcore Scene. Straight Raw Power Neurotic Punk Rock. Simply Insuperable!!!

One of the most powerful bands to emerge from the cinders of punk... one of the most powerful bands ever. Greg Ginn, a madman and a thorough disciple of the guitar, brought this band into being in 1977 in the depths of L.A. outside of the reaches of the excesses of the '70s. He'd had enough of the "California" sound of the Eagles, the over-production of Steely Dan and ELO. It was time to create a new sound.
Fueled by the simplicity and immediacy of the Ramones first album, he pulled together a small group of people who could barely play their instruments and began a pattern of musical deconstruction that exploded on a brand new scene that was just beginning to form. Controversy and opposition were the bedfellows of the band from the beginning: the law were not welcoming the emergence of the punk scene on the west coast. The fact that Black Flag survived those first four years was amazing in its own right. Singers kept quitting, occasionally during shows. But the band persevered, even acting in an instrumental capacity in between singers. It became common during these periods for people to jump on stage and act as the stand-in vocalist for the band.
The band finally settled into a stable unit with Ginn on guitar, Chuck Dukowski on bass, Robo on drums, and Dez Cadena as the permanent vocalist. It was with this line-up that Black Flag first ventured out on its first US tours. By December of 1980, the band was making its way across the USA for the first time. They played their first dates in New York City and Washington D.C. In the audience at each show were D.C. youths Ian MacKaye and Henry Garfield. They spoke to the band and ended up hanging out with them. Flag came east again during the summer of 1981. It was at a show in New York City that Henry ended up getting on stage and singing with the band for one song. Unbeknownst to Henry, Dez had been wanting to give up the mic to move over to rhythm guitar. Jumping on stage to sing left an impression on the band, so they ended up calling Henry back to NYC from D.C. and asked him to 'jam' with the band. After taking the train ride up and practicing with the band for a few hours, the others talked it over and decided that Henry would be the new vocalist. He quit his job, sublet his apartment, sold nearly everything he owned, and joined the band on tour several days later. This line up only lasted until their tour of England in late 1981, but long enough to record the first album, Damaged.
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