ARTIST: Black Flag
TITLE: The First Four Years
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Lead tracks on the releases: Nervous Breakdown, Jealous Again, Six Pack, Louie Louie
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Wasted, White Minority, Damaged I
LINEUP: Greg Ginn, Chuck Dukowski, Robo on twelve tracks, Dez Cadena on seven, Keith Morris on four, Ron Reyes on four, Bran Migdol on four.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Seminal West Coast punk rock releases a compilation of their first three EPs, a single and two compilation tracks. Classic.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Black Flag’s route to being signed by a major (yeah, they were for about a minute, more later when I get to that record) was rocky. From the start they were faced with personnel changes, the inability to find places to play, the cops, and all of those who thought punk destroyed society.
It’s reflected in these songs. All 16 of them have an energy, an edge, that only comes when your backs are against the wall and you don’t give a fuck. They played these songs like it was going to be the last track they recorded.
Yes, the sound quality is meh, and yes a few songs aren’t up to par with “Jealous Again” or “Nervous Breakdown”, and yeah Dez as a singer ain’t so great melodically. But the heck with it. Buy this and learn what LA punk was in the late 70’s.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Two of these tracks were on their first proper album, and many are featured on live recordings.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: A-. If nothing else, for “Six Pack” and the other lead tracks.