Black Flag’s Loose Nut
came as one of the band’s five full length studio albums released between 1984 and 1985. Alongside Loose Nut were albums My War
, Slip It In
and Family Man
(1984). In My Head
would be released the following year. A live album was also issued in 84. However, all of these albums were not necessarily intended on being released this closely together. Black Flag, already established as one of the premier hardcore punk bands in California with their 1981 album Damaged
, went though a lot of internal problems in years following Damaged up until 1984. One major problem was legal discrepancy regarding their distribution on Unicorn Records and use of the name Black Flag as well as some line up changes. An album was released during this dispute though, and it was a compilation entitled Everything Went Black
with the original cover having the band name absent. The compilation album entitled The First Four Years
(referring to the bands early years with singer Keith Morris) was also released, and consisted mostly of early EPs of the band. When Unicorn Records went bankrupt, Black Flag was finally out of the battle and were set to continue. Loose Nut
, 4th of 5 albums from the band in the short period and 5th studio album in total, was released in 1985 on their original SST Records.
Black Flag – Loose Nut
Henry Rollins- Vocals
Greg Ginn- Guitar
Kira Roessler- Bass
Bill Stevenson- Drums
Loose Nut, for the most part continued on the slightly new sound that the band had taken on with Slip It In and added signs of with My War. And that sound is combining their original hardcore punk sound of Damaged and adding a more metal/hard rock sound and somewhat slower, as opposed to their debut. Loose Nut though, has more of a darker feel to it than any others. There are still signature fast punk songs but the metal riffs are audible in a number of songs. And also the duration of most songs range between three and half minutes which is a, on average higher than Damaged but lower than My War or Slip It In. One thing that is noticeable about the album is that much cleaner sound production contrary to early days, but still an unpolished feel. The production has its pros and cons, as many people prefer a much rawer and grittier sound. But the quality of the sound is better in the sense that it can showcase the instruments, as well as vocals better. In this case, I don’t think the sound brings down the quality of the record greatly. Ginn does have a number of solos here, though not many. They are often very messy in traditional Black Flag style. The cover art was done by artist and Greg Ginn’s brother Ray Pettibon, who has done other album cover’s such as Sonic Youth’s album Goo
The album features a wider and a more scattered variety of song credits with each member of the band. Henry Rollins developed more as a songwriter, as shown in Family Man, and has a larger credit here with co-writing songs Best One Yet
and I’m The One
with either Roessler or Ginn. Original bassist Chuck Dukowski co-wrote Modern Man
while drummer Bill Stevenson is credited entirely for the album finale She’s Black Now
. And Ginn is recognized solely with writing the opening three tracks. The lyrics on Loose Nut range from the humorous and fun, to the offensive and at times seemingly sarcastic and graphic imagery of emotions. The title track expresses mental issues while This Is Good
lets out any frustration which goes beyond just the lyrics.
contains many of the Rollins-era Black Flag classic songs by a casual fan’s standards, Loose Nut
does indeed contain some of the bands best work. The album opener and title track offers a perfect blend of the punk fury mixed with the hard rock sound that would become a major part further in to the track list. It also has a rawer feel than the rest which compliments it well. Modern Man
, more driven by the heavy riff and a dark atmosphere to start out, kicks straight into a Black Flag classic with fast verses and the shout chorus, clocking in at just over 3 minutes for a perfect length. Annihilate This Week
is another powerful and angst filled track completed with distortion, abrasive vocals and an intimidating chant chorus of “Annihilate, annihilate, annihilate, all week long!
”. This Is Good
is a track sounding very different as oppose to the rest, maybe only reaching similarities to Modern Man. It is mid-tempo throughout, and Henry delivers one of his best vocal performances on the album while Ginn gives one of his best as well, though the chorus does get repetitive. Bastard In Love
is another highlight here, and not very fast like Loose Nut
, but more of a combination of the previous two mentioned, offering the distorted guitars and Rollin’s signature powerful vocals.
There is no obvious filler on Loose Nut, which is really important due to the number of songs. Though, with the three standouts mentioned in the previous paragraph, some do tend to feel like they could have been better. Sinking
, while not terrible, seems to drag to long with no real change of tempos, reaching almost five minutes. Best One Yet
is a standard song on the album, with nothing really separating it from the rest, blends in nicely without bringing the album up or down. The album finale, Now She’s Black
, shows one of drummer Stevenson’s (whom it was written by) better performances on the album. Having the longest vocal-less intro on the album, it emphasizes the overall darker metal-like sound of the album. The song is full of rage and energy and vocally excellent (with Henry really screaming the lyrics as the song progresses) making it a fitting (though not the best) end to the album, even if the lyrics seem confusing.
Black Flag’s 5th studio album Loose Nut
has been given generally mixed reviews by fans. It has been said to be the peak of the band’s many albums at the time, and has been said to be just another album closer to the end. Either way, it certainly should not be overlooked. It is much more accessible then the very experimental Family Man
and not as lopsided as My War
. While Damaged
and The First Four Years
are to many the essentials, which they are, this album offers a different side and many of the bands best songs. It offers a certain amount of the speed and energy to the dominant and powerful heavy guitar riffs of the later sound of the band. In the end, Loose Nut is a great album with few flaws essential for fans of the band, and good for fans of hardcore/punk.
Annihilate This Week
Bastard In Love