Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review #119: Black Flag - Louie Louie (Single) (1981)


Year: 1981
Genre: Punk Rock
Posh Boy Records
5 Minutes (Very Short)
My Rating:

Black Flag never released a full-length album with their third singer, Dez Cadena, but they did release two 7" singles with him on vocals. The first one was called "Six Pack". This is the second record they released with Dez Cadena, and it features a cover of the early rock song "Louie Louie" on one side, and a new song called "Damaged" at the other side.

1. Louie Louie
The original version of "Louie Louie" was written way back in 1955 by Richard Berry. It has since then become one of the most famous and well-known rock songs of all time. The most famous cover version of the song was recorded in 1963 by a band called the Kingsmen... back in 1963, the song was considered extremely controversial (and the FBI actually became involved in this case) because the lyrics were commonly misheard as being perverted by concerned parents (WHO'S the pervert again?). Anyways, fast-forward to 1981. "Louie Louie" is now a family favorite of the Jones', and now BLACK FLAG is the band that will turn your kids to Satan! As you might expect, this punk version of the song is harder, angrier, and besides the main chorus, the lyrics have been changed to something darker and more fitting to Black Flag lyrics. "Who needs love, when you've got a gun... who needs love TO HAVE ANY FUN?", screams Dez. Definitely a great cover if I've ever heard one.

2. Damaged I
Here we have a really underrated Black Flag song. It's slow, it's angry. Sort of a precursor to grunge and noise rock all at once. There's three versions of the song: this version, the LP version with Henry Rollins on vocals, and the fast version from "Everything Went Black". This is the first one mentioned of those three. My guess is that the lyrics here have mostly been improvised. It's a sludgy, seething train-wreck of a song. The riff nearly carries no melody at all. The beat is slow, as the guitars sort of plod along like a slug (minus the salt) on a stick. I remember I had left my church and I felt like everyone turned against me, and I felt like the words to this specific version of the song rung very true for myself. Which version of the song you like the best is subjective opinion, I suppose. Some might prefer the TRUE psychotic-ness of Henry's "Damaged I", or the more energetic version on "Everything Went Black". The song portrays inner pain accurately, to say the least.

This was Black Flag's fourth release, I believe. There's not any sort of HUGE story behind it or so to speak. The guys just probably wanted to record another single. This was probably right before Henry Rollins joined the band, and would remain its frontman for the rest of its existence. Both of these songs remained a major part of the band's performances even into their later years, so it's interesting to hear how these earlier versions of the songs sound. I can't think of anything else to say. Here's a music video...


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