The Vinyl of the Day is ‘My War’ by Black Flag, 1984. The second studio album by American band Black Flag. It polarized fans on its release in 1984 on SST Records over the LP’s B-side, on which the band slowed down to a heavy, Black Sabbath-esque trudge, despite the reputation the band had earned as leaders in fast hardcore punk on its first album, ‘Damaged’.
Personally I like the album a lot for the diversity of sounds Black Flag brought to it, trying to show they were more than just a thrash band. Even though this record alienated a lot of their skinhead punk fans because of the B-side sludge sound, it attracted a new audience including Kurt Cobain, who listed this as one of his 50 favorite albums and most influential to him. And songs like ‘Nothing Left Inside’ make a perfect soundtrack to today’s decline of western civilization.
I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting and working with Henry Rollins, and he’s one of the most intelligent and driven people I’ve known. I wish he’d run for Congress.
Following the release of Damaged, Black Flag absorbed a wider range of influences, such as the doom metal of Saint Vitus (who released via SST) and the more experimental hardcore of Flipper, Void, and Fang. The band revisited early influences such as Black Sabbath, the MC5, and the Stooges for new approaches to songwriting other than relying on the high speed that had become the Black Flag hallmark. In an interview in 1983 with Mark Arm the band declared its admiration for heavy metal band Dio; when asked, “Dio? What’s that?” Ginn responded, “It’s Italian for God." Ginn jealously guarded the new material, fearing other bands would capitalize on the new approach.
The band toured extensively in North American and Europe to often hostile, violent hardcore punk crowds. The disciplined group rehearsed obsessively, but there was little friendship between members: vocalist Henry Rollins was introverted and Ginn cold and demanding. Dukowski felt that Rollins’ vocal approach was better suited than that of the band’s earlier three singers to the new material he was writing such as "I Love You” and “My War”. Dukowski, who also wrote poetry and fiction, encouraged Rollins to write as well, and Rollins found inspiration in Dukowksi’s bleak lyrical style.
The muffled sound of the album’s production has attracted criticism; Stevie Chick disparaged the lack of character in Ginn’s bass-playing on “My War” when compared to the 1982 demo of the same song with Dukowski on bass. Michael Azerrad praised the strength of the material while denigrating the “frustrating lack of ensemble feel” as the album was recorded without a full lineup. Critic Clay Jarvis commended the album, emphasizing the risks taken on it and its influence, calling it “more a test than an album”, and saying, “independent music is stronger because Black Flag formulated it”.
The album had a large influence on the hardcore-meets-Sabbath sounds of the Melvins, Mudhoney, and Nirvana. Mark Arm of Mudhoney related he was moved to tears at a Black Flag concert in 1983 when he was first exposed to “Nothing Left Inside”, and the experience inspired him to seek out bands like Black Sabbath. The first punk concert Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain attended was a Black Flag show during the My War tour, and he listed My War on his list of top fifty albums.
Every time I open my mouth I always wish I had kept it shut I gotta spill my guts but I don’t dare I take a look around, I know that no one else cares Sun’s coming up and I can’t decide To spill my emotions or keep them inside Go for a drive, go to the store I’m looking for something that can’t be bought there I always wear a smile Because anything but a smile would make me have to explain And they wouldn’t understand anyway I conceal my feelings so I won’t have to explain What I can’t explain anyway I can’t decide I can’t decide I can’t decide anything.
Day: 1363 Shirt: Black Flag - My War 🔪 (90′s SST Superstore Version) Color: Turquoise Brand: Oneita Source: (yesterday) a wonderful acquisition from @tadkeys from back when SST used to have a store in LA you could go shop in. BUT more importantly today’s post is dedicated to those unique people you meet or just start following on Instagram. Like this guy from Japan named @mywar_yuichiro who has been wearing a different My War shirt since Dec of last year. There is that part of me that appreciates just how much work it takes to do something like this and stick to it. Go check him out its pretty rad. Good job Yuichiro!🎉👍🔪
In 1983, KIRA ROESSLER (born 1962) was asked to join the California punk band Black Flag, replacing the founding bassist. Her joining the band meant that they had to meet some logistical constraints; the band’s touring and recording schedule couldn’t conflict with the academic calendar at UCLA, where Kira was studying applied engineering. Over the next few years, she played on five Black Flag albums and toured with them, as well as writing songs for what would turn out to be the final Minutemen album, 3-Way Tie (For Last). James Parker writes about her bass playing in Turned On, his biography of Henry Rollins:
[She] held it down, dug in behind the beat, underpinned [guitarist Greg Ginn’s] guitar work with a minimum of fuss, but something in her very consistency built an energy, a menace that defined the MY WAR groove. With Kira in place, Black Flag went into attack mode.
In 1985, Roessler was asked to leave Black Flag; they’d scheduled a tour that coincided with her final quarter at UCLA. She graduated with her engineering degree in 1986, but continued to play bass, co-writing songs with Mike Watt for his post-Minutemen band fIREHOSE and performing with him in their two-bass duo, Dos. After working as a programmer for a decade or so, Roessler began to do sound and dialogue editing for film and television. She’s now won two Primetime Emmys in “Outstanding Sound Editing” for her work — which includes the “Blackwater” episode of Game of Thrones.
In a 2011 Village Voice interview, Roessler was asked if she was a role model; she modestly replied, “You tell me.” Yes, Kira Roessler, you are.
Sincere we talking about inspirations, and since this series came up in a question yesterday, how about the punk songs/albums that inspired the titles of the Fear Agent arcs? The only one I’m not 100% sure about is Hatchet Job.
1. Re-Ignition (Bad Brains)
2. My War (Black Flag)
3. The Last Goodbye (Agent Orange)
4. Hatchet Job (I’m ashamed to admit I don’t know this one for sure).