Tuesday, January 18, 2011

340. Damaged- When Henry stands up.

Album: Damaged
Artist: Black Flag
Year: 1981
Genre: Punk


  1. Rise Above
  2. Spray Paint (The Walls)
  3. Six Pack
  4. What I See
  5. T.V. Party
  6. Thirsty & Miserable
  7. Police Story
  8. Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie
  9. Depression
  10. Room 13
  11. Damaged II
  12. No More
  13. Padded Cell
  14. Life of Pain
  15. Damaged I

It's seminal punk time again Ladies and Gentleman. That recuring moment in the countdown when I'm forced to listen to a group of shouty people who influenced punk as we know it. And having heard their shouty output four times in a row I take it upon myself to try and write something profound about seminal punk. I've done this about ten times now which means the ratio of my blogs to their chords used is currently at 10:3. Black Flag released this album in 1981 and without them punk wouldn't be what it was today. I'm not sure what punk is today but I think it's basically Green Day so you can make your own mind up as to whether we should be thanking Black Flag or hunting them down for some mob-style justice.

However unlike most seminal punk that I blog about, Black Flag actually have a member that I've heard of. In fact I've not only heard of Henry Rollins I'd consider myself among his vast legion of fans. Once Black Flag imploded in a ball of pure anger and stopped functioning as a touring entity, Rollins formed his own band and continued in a similar vein but also launched a number of side careers. He writes poetry, acts in mainstream Hollywood movies (Johnny Mnemonic, Bad Boys 2, Heat and Lost Highway) works as a DJ and most notably tours the world as a spoken word artist, a role that involves ...well... speaking... words... It's a strange thing spoken word, it's not stand up (although he's definitely funny) it's not a poetry recital and it's not a sermon, it's just a guy saying things in front of a bunch of people who have decided he's worth hearing. He doesn't have a specific cause to push, he's not selling anything or trying to present himself as a life-coach, he just gets up onstage and tells a few stories and shares his views on things. Yes it is odd but it's very entertaining, even on CD years after the recording.

Listening to Black Flag for me involved hearing Rollins as a young man before the idea of just touring the world chatting had ever occurred to him. Lyrically Damaged is vintage Rollins and takes a swipe at some of his favourite subjects including lethargy, TV and American society. The surprising thing is that Henry didn't actually write the lyrics. They were mainly penned by Greg Ginn, the only consistent member of Black Flag throughout it's long career. The other startling thing about Damaged is that Ginn, who wrote all the words, is apparently a huge fan of the Grateful Dead. Black Flag is about as far from The Dead as you can get. Jerry Garcia and friends have often stretched one song out longer than this entire album.

I'd like to say that the presence of Rollins managed to lift this album above the other seminal punk releases I've listened to lately but sadly it's pretty much business as usual. If you like this stuff then you've got this and you're angry at me for not getting on board. If you don't then there's nothing much that's going to convert you.

Highlight: TV party
Lowlight: Room 13

Influenced by: Their previous albums (Henry Rollins was a huge fan of the band before he became their lead singer. Apparently he still says they were better before he joined)
Influenced: Hardcore punk and grunge.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: This is classic hardcore (PUNK) from before I was born. I absolutely love Black Flag, they are so hardcore and awesome its like so good. Henry Rollins is awesome and the music is so angry and hardcore. Some punks in my town played Rise Above at the Battle of the Bands, sooooooooooooo awesome. 5 stars excellent!!!!!!!

-You have to love a review that includes local anecdotes.

So do you salute the black flag or would you rather it was flown at half mast? Let me know below.


  1. Sorry for not commenting in a while.

    My opinions aside, when I hear others call Green Day "punk," there are about 500 others in the immediate area scoffing or raging. How dare someone lump in a band with mainstream success with the punk movement?! I like Green Day, but I'm what many would consider a "tool" so I'm sure people wouldn't care for my two cents.

    Also, Rollins. I've only heard of Black Flag, and had no idea anyone could be a spoken word artist without a message to push or a comedian gimmick. I should check him out.

    Also, writing on 500 of anything is hard hahahaha. You must I'm not sure if I have the attention span (do I curse my generation's technology, my ADD, or both?) required to do such a thing. I'd much rather make my own lists and explain THEM, or record my own music (both of which I'm doing!) than do something for someone else's countdown, even if it's Blender. Sorry if this slightly disappoints you.

  2. I really recommend you check out Henry's spoken word stuff. Be warned you do need to dedicate two hours to it though. His shows are best appreciated when you listen to the whole thing rather than just shorter youtube clips.

    Don't worry about the Blender thing. A 500 list is a big commitment. 2011 is my third year of doing this and I'm still not even half way through.