Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review #206: Flex Your Head (1982)


Hardcore Punk
Dischord Records
Length: 41 Minutes
My Rating:

By 1982, the Washington D.C. hardcore scene had expanded to include many bands, and aside from Bad Brains, the oldest band of the type in the area, most of these bands had come to be apart of the Dischord Records roster. The Dischord Records rooster. You see, the Dischord Records rooster was in fact Ian MacKaye, and he sat on all of these eggs (because there were no hens around to do it for him) because he wanted to keep them warm so that they would hatch into more chickens, and these eggs hatched into the Untouchables, State Of Alert, Government Issue, Youth Brigade, Red C, Void, Iron Cross, Artificial Peace, and Deadline. So this is a very essential compilation of many of the early D.C. hardcore bands... many of these bands were apart of or supported the Straight Edge movement, which you've probably heard of but if you haven't it's about not drinking, doing drugs, smoking, or having a promiscuous sex life. Minor Threat and the Teen Idles are on this album also. Anyways, there's not much else I can think of to say right now except that there are about four different alternate covers for it, one with a piano and flowers, another with a wheat field, another with a picture of Ian's head, and another with three X's and two stripes on it.

1. The Teen Idles - "I Drink Milk"
I can't drink milk becuz I'm allergic to milk. In case ya didn't know that. The Teen Idles was the second (after the Slinkees) band that Ian MacKaye was in, but he only played bass guitar here. This song is fast, has a cool riff and it's about having a love for the art of milk-drinking.

2. The Teen Idles - "Commie Song"

Slower. The lyrics seem to be pro-communism and talk about a disgust at the capitalism and superficiality of American society. Nice riffs.

3. The Teen Idles - "No Fun"

Yes! A Stooges cover! This version is a lot faster... actually, I like the Stooges version better, but it's still pretty good. For those who don't know, the song is about staying at home with nothing to do and being really bored. A hardcore spin on a great song. Then there's a bunch of crazy animal noizes at the end.

4. Untouchables - "Rat Patrol"

The Untouchables were the band of Alec MacKaye, Ian MacKaye's younger brother, but his voice sounds just as close to Henry Rollins as it does to Ian MacKaye. And the guitars sound real sludgy and distorted. Makes for another wild song!

5. Untouchables - "Nic Fit"

I first heard this song years ago in the form of a cover of it by my favorite band Sonic Youth from their album "Dirty". This version is just as good if not better since it IS the original! I have no idea what a nic fit is, but my guess is that it's something really cool. You'd just have to had been there or something. Which I wasn't. NICFITNICFITNICFITNICFIT. Ever try saying "nic fit" over and over again really fast? Not easy.

6. Untouchables - "I Hate You"

Fast but not quite as fast. The riff is cool. The drumming at the chorus part sounds like something like what Void would later do... but don't worry, I'll get to that later. I HATE YOU (just kidding)

7. State Of Alert - "I Hate the Kids"

For those who don't know, S.O.A. is Henry Rollins from Black Flag's first band that he sang for! So you'll hear his familiar voice in the next few songs. The guitar sounds real mean and fuzzed-out. The beat is fast and it's about feeling alienated from your peers.

8. State Of Alert - "Disease"
Good guitar riff. It's about hating a person so much that you get a "disease" from being around them. Then Henry yells "THANKS MOM!" -- maybe he wrote it about his mom?

9. State Of Alert - "Stepping Stone Party"

Just like Minor Threat covered Stepping Stone by the Monkees, so did S.O.A.! Includes a bunch of inbetween-sung-lines spoken dialogue and that stuff. Even faster than the Minor Threat version and has a slightly different feel to it. Everybody sounds like they're going crazy on this juan.

10. Minor Threat - "Stand Up"

That's right, now it's time for good ol' Miner Threadt. The guitar riff rules, it's fast, Ian sings well, and the lyrics are about coming to a show to have some fun but then some asshole picks a fight with you and your friends and you use your friendship and courage to pull through.

11. Minor Threat - "12XU"

This is a cover of a song by the English punk band Wire. I have not heard the original version, but I'm sure it's not this fast and the song's about Ian (in this version) seeing a guy kissing another man in a magazine and outing him for it. Then at the end of the song he yells out FLEX YOUR HEAD... heyyyy... just like the TITLE OF THE ALBUM. WOW, IMMAGENIUS, MAYAN!

12. Government Issue - "Hey, Ronnie"

Starts out kinda slow, but it gets faster. The song accuses a guy named Ronnie of not being fun. The beat is neat because sometimes it alternates between being not so fast and being pretty fast. Hahah.

13. Government Issue - "Lie, Cheat, and Steal"

The bass riff here is awesome, and it goes perfect with the riff and the beat and the whole energy of the song! BUTT-FUCKED!!!!!!!!

14. Youth Brigade - "Moral Majority"

This is NOT the more well-known band called Youth Brigade that released albums like "Sink With Califjornia". This is a more angry, less melodic hardcore band. The guy has a angry-sounding voice. This song lashes out against the "moral majority" of 1980s America that was biased towards the values and opinions of rich white male Christian Americans.

15. Youth Brigade - "Waste of Time"

The guitar sounds awesome and real fucked-up.

16. Youth Brigade - "Last Word"

The verse riff kicks ass! Full of energy and fury. End of Side A.

17. Red C - "Jimi 45"

Starts out with a cool beat and bass guitar riff. The guitar slowly fades in. Soon you realize that you're listening to a semi-cover of Jimi Hendrix's cover of Hey Joe. Perhaps this is based off of hearing that song played at 45 RPM. It fades out after not long, though.

18. Red C - "Pressure's On"

The shouted lines are punctuated by segments of the guitar riff in the verse part. In the chorus it all flows more and the guitar sounds really really good here. Nice guitar-solo-age, too. For the final third of the song you're just hearing some lead guitar noodling around.

19. Red C - "6 O'Clock News"

The verse part is calm and kind of sad-feeling and the verse is fast and furious. I really like how well the guitarist in this band plays. This song criticizes how the news always places emphasis on sex and violence and tries to sensationalize it all for mass-consumption.

20. Red C - "Assassin"

f; s'fds

21. Void - "Dehumanized"

Yes! Void! Well, they don't sound quite as crazy here as they would later on, but this was their second official recorded appearance. The verse parts are really noisy and chaotic-sounding and the choruses are a little more linear. The drumming is a little sloppy, but it makes it sound all the more awesome.

22. Void - "Authority"

This song's about how the rightful place of the youth of today is to revolt against the cynical and greedy desires of the authority figures -- however, eventually each wave of revolution replaces the previous authority as authority itself and then "I'll wish I was young and I had the envy". Maybe it iz better to never grow up. As great as this song is, the alternate versions on "20 Years of Dischord" is a jillion times better.

23. Void - "My Rules"

Starts off with a rolling-type of beat and lead guitar tune... then it gets really really fast and angry about being mad that we're all being used as the cogs and gears of the machine. The chorus is slower. However, the version on the split album that came out a few months after this album is once again way better. So check that out also.

24. Iron Cross - "Wargames"

The guitar riff is amazing. The beat is cool also. The song is about war propaganda perpetrated by the United States government, making us believe that the purpose of war is to keep our country free when there are really usually other motives. The singer of his band has kind of a deep voice.

25. Iron Cross - "New Breed"

A song about punk revolution. WE ARE THE NEW BREED, AND WE WILL HAVE OUR DAY, WE ARE THE NEW KIDS, AND WE WON'T GO AWAY... FUCK YEAH!!!! The riff in both the verse and chorus are real cool. I like the sound of the guitar.

26. Iron Cross - "Live for Now"

This song reminds us to "live for now" and not place too much emphasis on the future but enjoy the moment because "kids today aren't kids tomorrow". I guess that's a pretty good message, though I look forward to the future because I'd rather not be living in this shithole where hardly anyone is any fun. There's only one guitar riff during the entire song. But it's a good one, at least.

27. Artificial Peace - "Artificial Peace"
A little faster than the Iron Cross songs were. In the intro, that is. Then it gets real fast. This song sings about how the hippie generation has created a false sense of peace with unneeded government programs to try to fix the problems of war when it's just a hollow facade to ignore the true causes of war. In the end of the song there's a slow psychedelic-metal type of section.

28. Artificial Peace - "Outside Looking In"

Fast. It's about feeling alienated from both the expectations of mainstream society and the punk scene as well. Feeling "caught between" and people who feel like they need to please everyone to be happy.

29. Artificial Peace - "Wasteland"

I like the guitar riff for this song's verse part. The song describes the suburbs as a wasteland where everybody tries to live the same and get a job/get a wife/stay at home all the time and it really is boring as shit. That lifestyle is bullshit. 'Cuz if I said "baloney" that would be a COMPLIMENT! Nice chugging guitar sound in the chorus. The guitar will chug all of your milk, just like singer from the Teen Idles.

30. Deadline - "Stolen Youth"

A slower song with a really heavy cool sounding guitar riff. I'm not sure what the lyrics are supposed to be about... some kid spends "two years on the run" because "he didn't believe" someone and now whoever somebody else was "stole his youth" and he "missed all the fun". But I don't know who that is. Confusing. But the does sound really cool.

31. Deadline - "Hear the Cry"

A bit faster. Once again, it has a cool guitar riff. I like the chorus guitar riff. It sounds cool. Can't find the lyrics for this one.

32. Deadline - "Aftermath"

Here we are, now... the last song. The intro is pretty mellow. The verse part is kind of slow and bass-centric. The chorus is fast and has a great guitar riff. "We're never free until we die". The guitar sounds cool.

That's a lotta punk! You'll hear almost all of the important bands from the early '80s D.C. punk scene here. Actually, it's kind of funny because some bands like S.O.A. and Youth Brigade (DC) only lasted for less than a year. But obviously after S.O.A. Henry Rollins got a place in Black Flag, thus making him even more notable. I rate this album 6/8 because almost all of the songs are good but a lot of the bands do sound pretty alike as you'd expect in a hardcore compilation. But don't pass over bands like Void and Red C and Deadline and Minor Threat who are better than average. Even the "average" bands sound really cool. But expect a lot of fast, hard, thrashing music for this compilation. Well, I'm going to get going to get going, now! Bye!

Top 3 Favorites:

1. My Rules (Void)

2. New Breed (Iron Cross)

3. Hear the Cry (Deadline)

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