Monday, December 21, 2009

Review #7: Black Flag - Nervous Breakdown (EP) (1978)

Year: 1978
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore
Label: SST Records
Tracks: 4
Length: 5 Minutes (Very Short)
Style: Angry
My Rating: 6/8

Ah, Black Flag. One of the first and one of the greatest hardcore-punk bands ever. Black Flag was a band that, in its later years, was socially feared, oppressed by the police, and later on, looked down upon by its own former fans for continuing to break the mold. They released albums that were more angry-sounding than anything else anyone had ever heard at the time, they helped lay down the blueprint for grunge music, implemented elements of free jazz into their own music, and even GREW THEIR HAIR LONG!! (which was considered un-punk back in the early '80s)

Speaking of SST again, this was their first release. SST used to have a TON of amazing bands on their catalog, butThis was Black Flag's first record. It is considered to be the first hardcore record, but I'd say it's second, as the Germs released a single a year before this came out. At this point, Greg Ginn's company, SST, sold old World War II-era equipment, and they were just a couple of L.A. beach punks who wanted to start a band that sounded like the Sex Pistols. Another notable member at this point was Keith Morris, the original vocalist, who later went on to start another notable band called the Circle Jerks, and covered one of the songs off of this album for THEIR first album! in this decade, it seems more like a label that Greg Ginn releases all of his solo projects on. But they still keep almost every Black Flag record, no matter how unimportant, in print, so at least they care about their past. I'd really like to hear some of the NEW bands that SST would sign if they became a big name in punk/alternative rock again...

It sounds hardly anything like Henry Rollins-era Black Flag, so if you're looking for something for when you're in the mood to punch mirrors until your knuckles bleed or shoot up your own car's windshield just for the hell of it, this is not quite at that level. But, it's still a good, short album. Now, for ze review...

1. Nervous Breakdown
The first song. Yes. The first song. The riff kinda reminds me of "Lexicon Devil" by the Germs (which came out in the same year). But this is about Keith going insane, because his head is on his shoulder is going berzerk. He's heard the same shit over and over again. He's going insane. He needs you guys to stop pissing him off. Or else he's probably going to do something really awesome that you're gonna head. His voice sorta starts to go off the deep end later on in this song. It sounds pretty legit. This song has a general badass sound to it.

2. Fix Me
Y'know, in the first track, the man said he didn't want to be helped and that he just wanted to die. But here, he's saying "Fix me, fix my head, fix me please, I don't wanna be dead!". Confusing, eh? But like the other songs here, this is a pretty linear punk-thrasher that's sure to piss off your parents if they're total squares. That's ze end of side 1.

3. I've Had It
This one is a little slower in the verse, and like the other songs, it's about Keith being pissed off about his life and not being able to deal with it normally anymore. Then the chorus goes faster, and it has a riff like the pressure is slowly building up in his head. He plays guitar from his car! Have you?

4. Wasted
This is my favorite one. Sounds the most like the Sex Pistols out of all of these. The lyrical content here is basically that Keith has been a lot of things in life, but most importantly, being wasted and being out of his head. But, that iz the end of the record. Pretty short, eh? Well, it was a good listen.

So, if you're looking for 5 minutes to spend dancing like a maniac around the room or wanting to stir up whatever type of punk-rocker party you're having, you should play this. Also, if you're new to the band, it would actually be pretty neat to start here and slowly work your way up to the really crazy stuff. Black Flag.

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