Thursday, January 20, 2005

Black Flag, II

Black Flag- Live 84
Black Flag- Who’s Got The 10 ½?

Barely any overlap on the two live records here- only ‘My War’ and ‘Slip It In’ are represented twice (the latter, of course, being the stage for the dick joke that gives 10 ½ its name.) One of the most interesting things to note on Live 84 is that you can hear mistakes being made- the band chose not to tamper with the recordings to make ‘em sound perfect. Despite all the stories about the band’s intense rehearsal and tour schedules, it’s always hard for me to wrap my head around the amount of time that they spent playing. Hearing the band miss an entrance, for me, just draws attention to how many other transitions are seamlessly made in the live setting.
10 ½ features Anthony Martinez on drums. I’ve always thought of Stevenson as the band’s essential drummer, but man! These recordings do a lot to make me reconsider that notion. There’s a lot more swing to the drum parts when Anthony plays ‘em, a lot more feeling- doesn’t feel quite as mechanical as when Bill is playing ‘em.
(For whatever it’s worth, ‘In My Head’ is my favorite Flag album, as well as the last one in their chronology. I’m always a little bit disappointed that the stuff on that record isn’t as well-represented as I would like- a combined total of two songs on these two CDs. Ah well.)

Black Flag- The Complete 1982 Demos

I picked this up for a little bit too much money a few years back in Bloomington, Indiana and haven’t seen it for sale anywhere since then.
The demos include a few unreleased, kinda so-so new songs, as well as all the Flag hits. The revelation here, though, is that the 1982 lineup that is recorded here is a five-piece: Greg and Henry, former DOA drummer Biscuits, Dukowski on bass, and Dez on second guitar! Having Dez in there on rhythm helps to fill in the gaps when Ginn is playing his wacko solos-it feels a lot more organic than the studio stuff (I’m sure there are backing tracks that were recorded after the fact on all the proper albums.) Biscuits is a hell of a drummer on this recording. These demos were recorded between ‘Damaged’ and the glut of the stuff that came out once the RCA injunction was dismissed- Rollins’ vocal progress is already noticeable.
The final four tracks were recorded right after ‘My War’ came out at a California radio station. Amazing, amazing performances of ‘I Love You,’ ‘Swinging Man’ and especially ‘My War’ by the Ginn/Rollins/Kira/Stevenson lineup, and an interview with the band that is hilarious. Kira sounds like a massively stoned surfer girl, always giggling. And some of the questions!
“Are you guys serious?”
“We’re serious about being effective.”

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