Part 5 of a series from my co-blogger (T) and myself (M).
Black Flag, Damaged (1981)
All these frat boys I knew bought this album on the basis of “TV Party Tonight” and, to a lesser extent, “Six Pack”. “Party band! Party music!” That god damn song. It was like I had to constantly grab them by the shoulders and shake them and say, “Did you not listen to the rest of the album??” But it was like talking to a tree stump. A drunk, horny tree stump who only cared about partying.
The only way I listened to this album was by myself, in my room, those gigantic early ’80s era headphones on, lights out, joint smoked. I wanted no one else around as I contemplated life as an aimless 19-year old. This album made me itchy. Restless. Angsty. And then it would take a wide turn on my emotions and make me feel apathetic, despondent, hopeless. I might as well just stay here in bed and get stoned and sleep and not care about anything to Jesus Christ, I gotta get out of this room, out of this house and do something, anything, like go light myself on fire in front of the White House or maybe just go kick a cat or something, but I gotta move.
And then I’d close my eyes and sink back into the music again. And it went on like that. I’d get all the way up to “No More” and wait for the build-up of the drum, that slow steady beat that got faster and faster and I’d think that whole 40 seconds or so from the first beat right up until Rollins kicks in is a microcosm of the album, of my life up until that point, and I’d suddenly be yelling I need action, won’t take no more, no more, no more, no more and I’d be ready to get up and buy some kerosene or find a stray cat, but then “Padded Cell” and “Life of Pain” would come and I’d pull the covers over my head and think, fuck, man. Maybe listening to “TV Party Tonight” in a room full of drunk frat boys isn’t such a bad thing after all.
And then I’d move the needle back to “Rise Above” and put that thought out of my head real quick.
“I wanna get fucked!” What the fuck did he just say? In the back. Did you hear that? Put that on again. What? I wanna get get fucked?
Remember, I was a kid back then. Listening to this on wax on an old stereo. But did he say that? You have to remember, this is when I was spray painting “Sex Pistons” on the streets. Wondering what the fuck a “Sex Piston” was anyways. But I still painted it. On the street. It’s what we did. Dumb pre-punk who didn’t have the balls to do anything rough and couldn’t even spell Sex Pistols right cause I had only heard them a few times and really never liked them. But it’s what we did then. Meh. It happens.
Hey guys. We are all young and dumb at one point in our life. Gimmie a break, okay?
But Damaged, this was different. This was something that almost made your cock hard with all the blood racing through your body. Even the cover was something to behold. Something that hit me hard. Maybe it was teen anger. Maybe frustration with life. Maybe puberty. Fuck, who knows. But it hit me in the face. Fuck “TV Party”. That was fun for about ummm….about three minutes.
But the rest of it. Kinda fucking brought me into California hardcore. Say what you want about Greg Ginn and Rollins. They might have ruined the band but they also brought the band up. It was their scene and they could break it if they wanted. I won’t deny this album had a huge impact on me. Just the kick on “Police Story” ran through my head for years. Something about it. When shows, parties, or clubs were shut down by the cops. Fuck this city! Run by pigs! That’s an “I’m tired of this shit” song and they brought the words to life. You can say what you want about Black Flag, but I’m probably not gonna listen if you bag them. Hell, my first tattoo when I was a kid was the bars, so you can kinda figure I like them and this album was my first exposure to them and hardcore. And it rocks.