Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review #29: Black Flag - I Can See You (EP) (1989)


Year: 1989
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore, Post-Punk
Label: SST Records
Tracks: 4
Length: 10 Minutes (Short)
Style: Angry
My Rating: 7/8

"I Can See You" was the last Black Flag record to be released. Three years after the band broke up, in 1989, they released this little dgfgdfgdf! It has four songs on it, taken from parts of the "In My Head" Sessions that didn't make it on that album. The album is about ten minutes long. The cover art was NOT done by Raymond Pettibon, who had a falling-out with SST a few years prior.

1. I Can See You
This is a scary one. Basically the same beat done over and over again with the lines "I can see you, you can see me, I can see you, you can see me..." over and over. For some reason the lead guitar riff makes me think of some unsettlingly joyous house with a big happy family in it with some bizarre undertones of fear of the unknown. The song almost sounds TOO happy, but to me, the lyrics imply something sinister. The song's chorus is "Don't... stab me in the back" repeated.

2. Kickin' and Stickin'
Shortest track on the EP. Kickin' and stickin'... smokin' and a-drinking... just sitting here laughing (a-ha-ha)... as the blood keeps spillin'. Basically little limericks like that to a slow-ish beat and Henry's laughing.

3. Out of This World
My favorite song on the record. It's adventurous, it's packed with energy, there's a sense of danger... it's a good song. Well, it's the fastest song on the album and it's about a guy who's gone mad and is leaving everything behind. The part where Henry goes "I LOVE I LOVE I LOVE I LOVE I LOVE I LOVE I LOVE I LOVE I NEVER LOVE I NEVER LOVE I NEVER LOVE I NEVER NEVER NEVER!" has so much flow to it.

4. You Let Me Down
Longest song on the album. The song's lyrics seem to be about a guy who feels like he's being abandoned by his own friends. The vocals are spoken rather than sung.

The contents of this EP can now be found on the CD reissue of "In My Head" (as these tracks were probably originally left out because there wasn't enough space on the LP). Because of this, it's regarded as a throwaway by many. I see something else in this EP. It's amazing what story can be told in just 10 minutes. You see, everything released by Black Flag before this -- it all painted the picture of the loner, the reject, the alien, the outsider, just waiting to snap... as the last Black Flag record, I think this album concludes that tale. In "I Can See You", that troubled little man DOES SNAP. In "I Can See You", he seeks out his victim in cold blood. In "Kickin' and Stickin'", the protagonist KILLS. In "Out of This World", he's on the run. "You Let Me Down" is a somewhat deluded retrospective. I believe that this EP is the proper end of the tale that Black Flag was telling.

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