Black Flag
The First Four Years


4.5
superb

Review

by Karl Malone AKA The Mailman USER (10 Reviews)
December 27th, 2006 | 22 replies | 11,807 views


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 16 songs in under 25 minutes, a true punk album.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

So here it is, my first review on Sputnik after being here for over 8 months and I couldn't think of a better album (I actually couldn't think of one at all until about an hour ago) to start off with than one by Black Flag. Their raw, in your face attitude has made them legendary in the punk scene. Most people will think of the album Damaged when you mention Black Flag, but I think the album that really needs some credit is The First Four Years. This pre-Rollins collection of early Black Flag songs showcases the band at their best.

The album starts off on a very strong note with the song Nervous Breakdown. Its lyrics are written by lead guitarist, Greg Ginn, and seem to be about him basically being sick of it all and slowly losing his mind. Nervous Breakdown is a great opener to the album and will definitely leave you wanting much more, which you won't have to wait much longer for since all of the songs are fairly short except for Damaged 1. Fix Me clocks in at 58 seconds and is a great follow up to Nervous Breakdown. Keith Morris's vocals go along great with Ginn's simple guitar riffs. I've Had It bascially deals with the same things lyrically as Nervous Breakdown, being fed up with everything. Not a bad song, but is too similar to the opening track. The next song, Wasted, is the last song with Keith Morris on vocals. The lyrics deal with being wasted out of your mind, as you might have guessed. The Keith Morris section of this compilation gives the album a huge boost.

Tracks 5-8 (Jealous Again, Revenge, White Minority, and No Values) are among the best on the whole album. The vocals, sung by Chavo Pederast, are even more intense and angry than Morris. The album is worth it just for this group of songs. Definitely do not skip any of these! You Bet We've Got Something Personal Against You is sung by bassist Chuck Dukowski. The vocals seem a little forced, sounding more like they are talked rather than sung. However, the rest of the band delivers and creates a decent track. Clocked In features Dez Cadena (later of Misfits fame) on vocals as does the rest of the album. A minute and a half of Dez nearly screaming his lungs out makes for one a great song. The next song, Six Pack, is a definite highlight. It starts out with a nice bass intro then goes into some humorous lyrics about alcoholism and how a six pack of beer is more important than anything else. This song is the best of the Dez Cadena part of the album.

I've Heard It Before and American Waste seem to deal with the flaws in society. These songs are about as "political" (if you even want to call it that) as Black Flag will get on the album. In my opinion, these songs do not live up to the standards of the rest of the album. However, they have started to slightly grow on me. Machine starts out with Cadena screaming "I'm not a machine!" with some bass work going in the background. The pace of the song then picks up until it dies down near the end. This song doesn't seem to have a lot of effort put into it and is probably the worst on the album. Louie, Louie is a cover of a Kingsmen song. I definitely prefer the Black Flag version. It's a very catchy song and one of the best on the CD. The final song, Damaged 1, is the longest song on the album and it lasts just over 4 minutes. Pretty much features a simple guitar riff going on through the whole song. I'm not a big fan of this song, but I don't mind it.

The Instruments- I was actually surprised by some of the instrument work. I thought it would be mediocre, and just barely coming together. I was wrong. Chuck Dukowski does a great job of keeping everything together on bass. Greg Ginn's guitar playing is sometimes a little repetitive, but has it's shining moments and for the most part fits in well with everything else. Drummers Brian Migdol and ROBO do a nice job of providing some simple, but nice beats. I can't even tell the difference bewteen the two.

Overall, a great album. If you're a fan of punk, or just want fast, exiciting music..pick this album up right now.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
tom79
December 27th 2006



3363 Comments


Pretty good review for a first. It was well written for sure, but could have been more informative or descriptive. Good job though. Oh yeah, the summary at the top is kinda similar to Neoteric's Cirlce Jerks review, and 'true punk' sounds kinda...ehh.

I've always prefered Rollin's era Black Flag the most, but this has some good stuff.This Message Edited On 12.27.06

Digging: Braid - No Coast

londoncalling457
December 27th 2006



2590 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^Thanks Tom. Yeah I just went back and read the summary for Neoteric's review and you're right, but I haven't read it previous to writing this so I'll keep it.

metallicaman8
December 27th 2006



4677 Comments


Nice work.

MrKite
December 27th 2006



5020 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice job, dude. I desperately need some Black Flag.

nirvana1989_nb
December 28th 2006



98 Comments


I'm gonna get this record on vinyl for my b'day i think. I wouldn't mind damaged either, what i have heard of that is pretty sweet.

Tv Party
December 28th 2006



98 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review. I might review My War sometime soon.

Neoteric
December 29th 2006



3243 Comments


Black Flag are ultimately awesome.

Great first review as well despite the similar-sounding summary

smokersdieyounger
December 30th 2006



672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Black Flag's recordings with Kieth Morris is in my opinion, the best punk rock ever made.

MrKite
February 16th 2007



5020 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No Values owns. I'm really into them lately.

MrKite
June 10th 2007



5020 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've Had It's main riff sounds a lot like the one in 53rd and 3rd by Ramones.

DesolationRow
September 23rd 2007



833 Comments


Their best album, in my opinion.

Keith Morris and Ron Reyes' work in black flag defined Los Angeles hardcore punk.

descendents1
September 23rd 2007



702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah this is their best album. I think it's a stretch to say that Los Angeles was even worthy of being recognized as a hardcore punk scene. Everything surrounding LA was happening but the city itself wasn't really special. If anything, I would say Keith Morris himself was the face of LA hardcore. He definitely helped put the Circle Jerks and Black Flag on the map. I mean, Youth Brigade did more to define LA hardcore than Chavo.

Fort23
September 23rd 2007



2474 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dez is my favorite black flag singer by far, though keith porbably made the largest impact, since dez only released American Wast with the band. very solid album.

jpattison
August 14th 2008



125 Comments


Black Flag makes me want to kill things
I personally prefer The Circle Jerks, by far

MrAwesome
August 16th 2008



17 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I heard a few songs from The Circle Jerks, they sucked compared to Keith Morris' stuff with Black Flag.

jpattison
October 29th 2008



125 Comments


you suck

Boognish
September 24th 2009



1003 Comments


Great album. Essential Flag

4strings
August 5th 2010



27 Comments


The songs taken from Jealous Again are my favourite on the album fosho.

kount
August 5th 2010



1279 Comments


samesies

wabbit
May 29th 2011



6975 Comments


great album



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