Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review #136: Black Flag - Everything Went Black (1982)


Year: 1982
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore
Label: SST Records
Tracks: 25
Length: 63 Minutes
Style: Angry/Rebellious
My Rating: 7/8

In the first half of the band's career, Black Flag went through more vocalists than toilet paper! Well, not quite (I hope, at least), but there were several vocalists before Henry Rollins, and in some aspects these incarnations of Black Flag enjoyed more success. "Everything Went Black" contains just about most of the stuff that Black Flag recorded in the late '70s and early '80s that didn't make it on any records. We hear very early versions of songs that later became famous, and the band's transition from a snotty, more metal-influenced version of the Sex Pistols to what came close to their mental phase that reached full bloom when Henry Rollins joined the band.

It's a double LP, so each side (except for the last one) is dedicated to a certain phase of the band. Side A of the first slab has all of the Keith Morris (of Circle Jerks fame) stuff, and the songs are somewhat slow. The B-side of that same vinyl has Ron Reyes/Chavo Pederast, and it's slightly rougher than their '78 cuts, but it has the least material on it. The second LP has a Side C featuring early '80s recordings with Dez Cadena and his extremely aggressive vocals, enough to fill out an album in its own right. And lastly, Side D is just an audio collage of early Black Flag radio promos. When the band first released this album, they were still in the middle of legal trouble with MCA, forbidden to release any more music, so initially the record was just released under the names of the performers in Black Flag featured on this album, alongside the famous four-bars logo. By 1983, the album had the Black Flag name on the cover again.

1. Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie (Keith)
The first part of the album kicks off with some Keith Morris, so these songs would fit in nicely on "Nervous Breakdown". This is my favorite version of the song. The beat is really cool. It actually slows down after the intro, but then we get a real rockin' riff and a those confrontational vocals from Keith. In the second verse, it gets even slower! The lyrics are bratty and awesome. "I've got problems of my own, they ain't the kind that can't be solved with an... ATOM BOMB!". Eventually, a later version of this song was one of the songs on the first LP, "Damaged".

2. I Don't Care (Keith)
Eventually Keith made (much to the dismay of Greg Ginn) this song his own by playing a faster version on the first Circle Jerks album. It's a classic anthem to teenage apathy and recklessness, especially to average girls.

3. White Minority (Keith)
A satirical song that makes fun of white supremacist groups. Nonetheless, I really like this song. Nice guitar riff-age in all parts. Later sung by Ron Reyes on the "Jealous Again" EP.

4. No Values (Keith)
Another Jealous Again track done with Keith Morris. This version of the song is slower. Oh well... twice as much fun, right? This song's about killing people and shit like that.

5. Revenge (Keith)
"You rollin'?", asks Keith. Not "You Rollins?", as some idiot who doesn't even exist might believe, 'cause ol' Henry Rollins was in Washington D.(i)C.(k) at this time servin' up some iced cream. Keith's spoken intro to this song is a lot quieter and calmer, not quite the same as the yelling, reveling manner that Chavo did it in. It's not a very long song, but you probably knew that. It's fast, though, compared to the rest of the Keith Morris songs. JEALOUS AGAIN!

6. Depression (Keith)
Wonderful riff. It's about being depressed, but this song's not very depressing, I'll say that! It's fast, and it perfectly describes the situation of many depressed people, but the song has a pretty positive outlook on the whole thing -- "I've got hope it's gonna get better... JESUS CHRIST... they fucking better!" Note how different those lyrics are from later versions of the song. Yup, this one made it all the way to "Damaged".

7. Clocked In (Keith)
This song to me just feels like a generic Black Flag song, riff-wise. You might ask me how that is so... it just feels that way to me. But it's still good... the chorus riff is great!

8. Police Story (Keith)
A song about those people we all love to hate. The song describes the situation with the L.A.P.D. -- "the city's run by fucking pigs, they're taking the rights away from all the kids", proclaims Keith. When he insults one of the officers, they throw him in jail. Another time he gets beaten with a billy club. The lyrics here are extremely memorable in every way and I'm surprised Black Flag isn't a classic rock band already.

9. Wasted (Keith)
Even though he already recorded "Wasted" with the band for "Nervous Breakdown", this version is a tad faster. The final lyric is altered from "I was wasted" to "I was wasted and still am!". End of Side 1.

10. Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie (Chavo)
Now Ron Reyes takes a whack at mastering "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie". And here, the song is much more aggressive and fast, with the vocals a notch more angry, and the music more violent this time around!

11. Depression (Chavo)
Very similar to the first version, but with different vocals, and slightly different lyrics. I like how he sings.

12. Police Story (Chavo)

13. Clocked In (Chavo)
Yep, good song with Chavo singing. See my description of the first version.

14. My Rules (Chavo)
Another real good song! Later on the band recorded it with Henry Rollins as a B-side to the T.V. Party single. Short but good. End of Side 2.

15. Jealous Again (Dez)
Now for the longest part of the album, the Dez Cadena years (er, year)! Starts off with someone saying that the band can now play, and then it cuts to a hilariously poorly played "song" (if we can call it that) on a piano. Then after a bit of that, we hear the song "Jealous Again", now sung by Dez Cadena! In some parts, his voice gets real wild. It's a great break-up song with a nice guitar riff and a fast beat. "Bitch."

16. Police Story (Dez)
More stories about the Police. Here, Dez's voice sounds harsher than ever. More energy to everything, and now the guitar leads are getting wilder than ever! Instead of saying "I may serve time", Dez sings "I waste my time!". Yup, this song got on "Damaged" also when Henry got a hold of it.

17. Damaged I (Dez)
The fastest version of this song you'll ever hear! Dez sings instead of speaking, and I can't even understand what the hell he's saying. It sounds awesome, though. I guess this is my favorite version of "Damaged", just for the fact that it's so energetic. In 1981 the band put a slower version of this song on the "Louie Louie" single, and then an even slower, even more fucked up version on "Damaged" (didn't see that one coming?).

18. Louie, Louie (Dez)
This a different version of the song than the one on the 7". The recording quality is different and the lyrics are almost completely different. A Richard Berry cover. Black Flag truly makes this song their own, and in some ways could be compared to the Richard Berry in the sense that the band repulsed and frightened mainstream audiences back in the 1980s like the Mr. Berry did in the 1940s.

19. No More (Dez)
This one starts off with an extremely memorable, ominous intro which consists of a droning bass continuing in one note, very slowly getting faster and faster, and almost a minute into the song, each bass strum is accompanied by a drum hit, getting faster and faster until the whole thing has gone from droning into pure speed! Halfway into the song, it changes into a fast thrashy piece with a great riff, in both the verse and chorus! This song sings about wanting to break free from being a mere slave to the system. Later featured on "Damaged" with Henry.

20. Room 13 (Dez)
Didn't the Circle Jerks also do a song about something called "Room 13"? Yeah, this is a fast proto-noise song with riffage punctuated by a second or two of guitar noise and feedback. Feel the thumping bass drum in the chorus. DAMAGED!

21. Depression (Dez)
This version's angrier than the rest, and features neat backing vocals in the chorus section. You can feel the depression in Dez's harsh but weary-sounding voice. Slightly more abrasive guitar sound here. I can't decide whether I like the version that Chavo or Dez sings more...

22. Damaged II (Dez)
In this album, "Damaged II" is actually longer than "Damaged I"! It's a wild, aggressive, hard-rockin' romp through anger and disparity, with a few pauses to breathe inbetween... this song really rocks. It's seemingly endless, but that makes it awesome. Also, check out the weird sounds Greg occasionally pulls off with his magic guitar.

23. Padded Cell (Dez)
Nice intro! This one's pretty fast, with occasional breaks in the tempo. And something about MANIACS!

24. Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie (Dez)
This really is the last song on the album. This song one last time. It sounds very similar to the version on the Damaged LP. Not much else I can think of that hasn't already been said about this song. Dez's vocals seem to have a different flow to them than the other ones. And the difference in tempo between the main parts and the guitar-less parts is greater. End of Side 3.

25. Crass Commercialism
This track occupies the "Side D" of the album (opposite of the Dez Cadena side). It's about 17 minutes of commercials for Black Flag shows. The first one is kinda funny and features Dez Cadena going off on a monologue about how he's sick of being so damaged in life, and he finally decides he's going to end it all... by going to see Black Flag at the Fleetwood at Redondo Beach! And it's gonna cost $4! He's gonna have to steal it! Just gonna end it all with Black Flag! An instrumental version of "Damaged I" plays in the background. The next one features a girl who's a "Black Flag slave" who spray-paints the Black Flag logo all over town! It's from about 1980, as they advertise the then-forthcoming "Jealous Again" EP as well. "DAVID! THE GORILLAS ARE KNOCKIN' YOUR DOOR DOWN!!". Many of these commercials contain very funny little skits featuring friends of the band and members of the band. It's just too bad there's hardly any "good muff" loving Black Flag anymore. Damn, that'd be great. Another commercial plays a mock-police conversation (or maybe even real), in which a cop warns another cop of a disturbance of a club, getting pumped up to "beat up some punkers". By the end of the commercial, they realize the punkers are Black Flag are too much for 'em, so they have to call the National Guard! Soon choppers can be heard. Another one features the Devil himself, telling fans that if they keep coming to Black Flag concerts, their hell will be on Earth and that when they die they can only find bliss. Another religious-themed promo features a punk rock preacher, calling the blessings of God upon the "shaved little heads" of the world's punk rockers, complete with organ music playing in the background. We hear such things as Adam Ant himself telling the world that his band sucks. Then in another instance we meet the forgotten secret member of Black Flag, "Johnny Stash", who plays us a country version of "No Values" before the announcer provides info on the next Black Flag concert. Then there's a commercial featuring an argument between a boy and a girl, laden with references to Black Flag song titles. The very end is a skit featuring two very stoned/high people conversing about things such as a "gelatinous hump" and radioactive waste, and many other sings. Very funny. Yep, definitely a great part of the album, even if it's not quite a "song". Can't believe how many girls used to like Black Flag. I need some good muff, dammit.

A lot of people love this album, and for a good reason, also. It shows the evolution of the band from their early days to the days just before Henry Rollins. It also shows what was happening 'behind the scenes' during the days of their first few records for those who weren't there to see it all happen. This is the Black Flag that just about EVERYONE (who isn't totally lame) loves. Always fun to hear the different vocalists go through different versions of the songs, and to hear the band have some fun doing it. I've said a lot, though. It's gonna be hard to pick a top 3. But I shall. Enjoy some videos, too.

Top 3 Favorites:
1. Damaged I (Dez Cadena)
2. Depression (Chavo Pederast)
3. Damaged II (Dez Cadena)



  1. Thanks for the review, LMR. I am listening to "Crass Commercialism" as I write this because I found your review while desperately searching for information about, what I think, was a Black Flag radio promo. It was a dialogue between a papa rat or roach and his son and the Dad was talking about the good old days and stuff. I am on a serious mission to find an mp3 of the promo so if that scenario rings a bell at all, please comment thusly.



  2. Yes! It's at the end of Crass Commercialism! I am so glad I listened top the whole thing!