Thursday, 31 July 2008

The results of this week's poll (favourite BLACK FLAG vocalist), and BLACK FLAG Last Show live boot upload...

The results are in for this weeks poll for favourite BLACK FLAG vocalist, although I believe there was some confusion in Florida which might have skewed the results (people were ticking the box for Dez Cadena thinking they were voting for Henry Rollins as his name was below it). That's the only thing that could explain why Rollins received less than 50% of the vote overall. Maybe we should try again? To be honest, the results are to be expected, and it perhaps blasts any conception I had that the world is full of Rollins-era haters. Chavo would have been my 2nd choice, his energy on the live songs from the 'Decline Of Western Civilization' movie is undeniable, as are his versions of 'Revenge' and 'Depression' on Everything Went Black. I also prefer 'Jealous Again' sang by him to the original Keith Morris take on it (shoot me!).

Anyway, the results:

Keith Morris
10 (12%)
Ron Reyes (Chavo)
18 (21%)
Dez Cadena
16 (19%)
Henry Rollins
38 (46%)

Votes in total: 82

I think this got the most votes out of any poll I've started so far, which goes to show that either my blog's getting more traffic, or just that a lot of people like BLACK FLAG. They're probably the most well known/popular band I've covered on this blog so far, and incidently are probably the most deserving of all punk bands (or bands of any genre for that matter) of the praise and adoration they receive... I hate the sound like an asshole, but you either "get" BLACK FLAG or you don't. The vocalist debate is nearly as old as the band itself, and normally sparks heated debate whenever it's bought up, but to borrow a sports-personality-interviewee phrase, 'at the end of the day' we all know that each singer was great in his own way, suiting each different phase of the band (or Ginn's vision). Saying that, I'm just being diplomatic... Rollins will always be my choice of favourite frontman. Can you even imagine any of the other guys singing 'My War' and making it work? As for people arguing that he "ruined" the band, it's obvious that they would have followed the same direction regardless of who was singing... Rollins could just pull it off, I don't think anyone else could have fulfilled that role. Really, if you are diehard into punk but hate all hard rock or heavy metal, it's understandable that you wouldn't like later FLAG, since those influences are just so prominent.

To go with the poll results, here is the easy-to-get-a-hold-of soundboard bootleg of FLAG's apparent last show, at The Greystone in Detroit, 27/28th June 1986, I believe with GONE and probably the terrible PAINTED WILLIE supporting.

It obviously covers a lot of material from In My Head and Loose Nut and while it's not as good as the CLASSIC Live '84 record, I think I prefer it to Who's Got The 10 1/2. Just think, this was the last time Ginn would play the twisted FLAG riffs in a live setting. There's some serious hippie jam fest moments, reflecting the heavy amount of GRATEFUL DEAD that was consumed in this period (you don't LISTEN to the GRATEFUL DEAD, you consume them like an illegal substance). I'm sure after this show a lot of old FLAG fans were grateful the band WAS finally dead... While nothing can possibly beat Damaged, My War or the 1982 demos (the triangle of perfection, with Slip It In not far behind...THE BARS! THE LIES!...), I really do love the later "difficult" records and live sets. There's a great hypnotic quality to the songs and just straight up bizarre riffs going on, truly fucked up and demented music. Also, Rollins never lets up vocally, just listen to 1987's Lifetime by ROLLINS BAND, a kind of continuation of later-FLAG minus Ginn's extremely signature guitar work. Also, I couldn't give a shit about the production, both Loose Nut and In My Head are great, great records.

It might be cliché to say, but they really were pushing boundaries and it is understandable why so many were hostile towards them for it... Even the dynamics of the members were volatile, a similarly disconnection between each individual as between the band and audience. But it all comes down to whether you believe bands have any kind of "responsibilty" to their "fans" to stay atleast marginally consistent in sound (BAD RELIGION's argument as to why they returned to playing their old style after the enigma that is Into The Unknown), or should be free to play and be whatever the fuck they want. While it's often said they were going through the motions towards the end, I do believe breaking up was the only thing to do at that point. There was literally nowhere else to go.

Anyway, enjoy the live set (or don't, depending on your preference).


Paul said...

I've said it before but; anyone who thinks Rollins 'ruined' the band doesn't actually like BF at all.

I'd argue that Rollins did more to shape the band than any other singer. The music was always firmly in the hands of Ginn, of course, but he actually contributed lyrically and in those lyrics he charted a personal reinvention that not only mirrored the bands musical development but also perfectly complemented it, philosophically and emotionally. This level of ownership began with Damaged I ("My names Henry, and you're with me now....") and evolved into a kind of symbiosis by '85 with Rollins becoming the physical embodiment of the band. The product of these two entities evolving both side by side and from within each other created an entirely new Rock archetype. Believe. That shit is important.

At their best, the others were just singers in a band. Morris was charismatic, but it took me a long time to reconcile myself with his whine (sounded faux-Rotten to me for years, over that now).

Chavo is easily my least favourite as his performance on the recordings are, by and large, pretty bland and characterless. The energy level is high on the Decline stuff, for sure, but it's all surface. Just another punker.

Dez didn't do much in terms of upping the ante, character wise but he did have a much stronger sounding voice; check out his performance on Clocked In(not enough people talk about this song. I wish Damaged sounded more like this, production wise).

I could go on. I won't

RobxT said...

I probably prefer the Keith Morris versions on Everything Went Black to the EPs, but in general prefer his vocals in the CIRCLE JERKS; less whiny and more angry. I do really like Dez's voice, and you can clearly hear that Henry was trying to emulate it in a sense, atleast on half of Damaged (but not so much after that). Anyway, just watch this vide of Dez singing Nervous Breakdown...Got nothing on Rollins:

Aaron Streets said...

I hate Morris.

Aaron Streets said...

edit: in FLAG, not CJ, obv.

Aaron Streets said...

as an aside, I'd be interested to hear where people rank Group Sex in relation to FLAG records.

Paul said...

The only Flag record that GS is better than is the I Can See You EP.

RobxT said...

Disagree with Paul on that one, GS has more personal value to me than NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, even though it wouldn't have existed without the latter. Still, the NB songs are still absolute classics... As an afterthought to my previous comment, not all of Morris's tracks on Everything Went Black are good...I hate his version of GIMMIE GIMMIE GIMMIE.

RobxT said...

Also, has anyone heard A PERFECT CIRCLE's cover of Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie? A part of me wants to, out of a kind of self-sadistic fascination, but would probably regret it afterwards. Horrible

paul said...

Of course, you cannot/should not discount personal attachment, but in the grand scheme of things Flag are a chapter (maybe two!)and The Jerks are a footnote.

Is that cover a true thing? Anyone make the mistake of listening to that Flag covers record that came out 5 or so years ago? Disgusting.

RobxT said...

But Keith Morris is such a minor part of that chapter in my opinion...I wouldn't deny the importance of NERVOUS BREAKDOWN in terms of hardcore's emerging personality, but GS did help to define that Cali hardcore sound too, even if it was a rip off/derivative... I'm not gonna hold up NERVOUS BREAKDOWN as the holy grail just because music journalists cream their pants over it. If FLAG had broken up after that EP, I doubt they would be talked about any more than their some of their peers... Ginn, Rollins, their DIY and touring ethos, everything that came after that EP, it's all more important than Morris

Paul said...

I certainly not saying that NB is any kind of holy grail but..........IT IS BETTER THAN GROUP SEX!

(If you were sitting in front of me, I'd blow a raspberry right now) .

Which is a worse experience – looking at Morris’ dreadlocks or listening to a Ginn solo record?

Aaron Streets said...

Paul, I'd like you to please explain, in detail, why GS isn't as good as the NB ep.

Paul said...

Well, I agree with Rob in saying that Group Sex was important in shaping the identity of California Hardcore, but I’d say that’s only because it was the first definitive second generation LAHC record; it officially codified break through already made by other bands. It’s got some cool songs on, no doubt, and put up against loads of other records it’s going to come out trumps but here it’s a tremor. Nervous Breakdown is the sound of the impact!

There is no real precedent for the sound of Nervous Breakdown. Sure, there are influences but no band before had maintained the speed whilst keeping the leaden emphasis on the downbeat (check out the chorus riffs in Nervous Breakdown and Fix me). It’s the old ‘Sabbath at 45rpm’ thing, but it holds true. The a-side of Nervous Breakdown in fast AND heavy and as a result is big time powerful. Group Sex is cool, but it sure isn’t powerful. Not in that way.

In short; Nervous Breakdown is HEAVY (in every sense) and Group Sex isn’t.

(See, I made my argument without mentioning how like a quarter of the songs on Group Sex are straight lifts from other bands………whoops! I just did!)