Monday, May 23, 2011

CD Odyssey Disc 278: Black Flag

This next album was one I don't put on often, but turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Disc 278 is...Slip It In

Artist: Black Flag

Year of Release: 1984

What’s Up With The Cover?: There's no way to put this delicately, is there? I'll just say that the four rectangular bars in the top right corner is Black Flag's logo. Other than that, I'll just say they are punk rockers - they like to offend people. If this offends you, I'm sure they'll be very happy with themselves.

How I Came To Know It: I had heard of Black Flag, but never actually heard Black Flag. I knew they had a good reputation, and I was interested to hear what Henry Rollins sounded like before he went solo. One day a number of years ago Iwas in that big HMV in downtown Vancouver with friends and they had a display of a ton of Black Flag re-releases. I poked through them, and eventually bought this one, because one of the people I was with vaguely recognized one of the song titles.

How It Stacks Up: Black Flag has six studio albums, but I've only got this one, so I can't really compare it to the others.

Rating: 3 stars

Buying an album the way I bought this one is always a bit of a risk. You are going almost entirely without reference points. All I knew was that Black Flag was an eighties punk band, and I wanted some more exposure to that genre of music at the time.

When I first bought this album it didn't really speak to me, but I felt that it had promise down the road and so I held onto it. This time, when I rolled it on the CD Odyssey, I enjoyed it much more than in previous listens.

Although firmly in the punk genre, "Slip It In" has some melodic elements and guitar riffs that are reminiscent of metal music around the same time. Somehow on my first few listens, this escaped me, but really came to the fore this time. Maybe this is what early hardcore sounds like - that would make sense to me, but I stand to be corrected.

In particular, the instrumental "Obliteration" reminded me a lot of early Black Sabbath, who I'm sure these guys all grew up listening to. That same song also has early Alice Cooper elements, and reminded me of a lot of the stuff on "Love It To Death" - also a record I'd be shocked if writer Greg Ginn had not heard many times.

My favourite song on this album is the final track, "You're Not Evil", which is very much in the Black Sabbath feel, balancing back and forth between competing guitar riffs, and changing tempo.

The subject matter is typically punk - stark and angry, with a general anger toward hypocrisy and affectation. One exception to this is the title track, "Slip It In" which is I think what passes for a punk rock love song. If you're wondering what it is about the title pretty much sums it up. It has a happy ending, which is always nice in a love song.

Lyrically, there is not much here, but this isn't music driven by the lyrics. They are just there to direct the aggression in the song. I know that I have a reputation of over-emphasizing the lyrics, but I'd like to think I only note them when they warrant it.

On "Slip It In", I found the lack of lyrical content exactly what was called for by the music, and didn't miss a thing. In fact, when I listened to "Obliteration", the song was half over the first listen through before I realized it was an instrumental.

Musically, I found a real nice rock groove underneath the punk arrangements on this record that made it much more enjoyable than I've found it in the past. While I wouldn't say I love it, it is a good record that I'll likely put on more often down the road.

Best tracks: Slip It In, Black Coffee, You're Not Evil

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice review man. I will expect to hear it at your pad sometime. ~Ross