Black Flag


Black Flag  is an American hardcore punk band formed in 1976 in Hermosa Beach, California.  The band was established by Greg Ginn, the guitarist, primary songwriter, and sole continuous member through multiple personnel changes in the band.  They are widely considered to be one of the first hardcore punk bands.  Like other punk rock bands of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Black Flag voiced an anti-authoritarian and non-conformist message, in songs punctuated with descriptions of social isolation, neurosis, poverty, and paranoia.  These themes were explored further when Henry Rollins joined the band as lead singer in 1981.  Most of the band’s material was released on Ginn’s independent label, SST Records.  (More from Wikipedia)
Bass player Chuck Dukowski was a founding member of Würm and would later join the seminal hardcore punk band Black Flag.  
(July 2012)
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The frontwoman for Fur is Holly Ramos, a musician and actress from New York City.  As revealed in a 2003 interview with Glitzine – a glam/punk/pop online fanzine that has evidently been around for 40 years – Ramos was into the New York punk scene at an early age:  “In grade school I started to get interested in 1977 type punkthe RamonesBlondiePatti Smith.  And in high school I got into hardcore (Black Flag/Bad Brains, etc).  I am interviewed for the book American Hardcore, a book about the history of that music.”  The book was written by Steven Blush and was the basis for an acclaimed 2006 documentary by the same name, American Hardcore that was directed by Paul Rachman


(June 2013/2)

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On one of my Atlanta shopping trips to the Criminal Records store, I found one of the most delightful albums I have purchased in the past five years:  a collection of early 1980’s punk rock simply called The D.I.Y. Album.  (The album is described as using the “Han-O-Disc” recording process, whatever that means).  On it is the first known song by the band that later became Concrete Blonde:  “Heart Attack” by the Dreamers.  This song was made even before they took the name Dream 6 in 1982.  Johnette Napolitano’s reedy but compelling vocal on Heart Attack could hardly sound more different from the way it is on the Deviants’ version of You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond.  As a result of these two recordings, I have gained a whole new respect for Concrete Blonde and Johnette Napolitano


Mainly on the strength of this Dreamers recording (though there are other terrific songs as well, including an early song by Black Flag), The D.I.Y. Album brought $50 at auction on eBay in 2006 (I paid maybe half that much myself!), according to – a great resource if you are interested in what original vinyl recordings have been bringing at auction and in private sales. 


(August 2013)


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Tensions in the band led to their break-up by mid-1979, before they were able to release a proper album.  Avengers, released in 1983 is a tough find these days; but Penelope Houston has it available as a CD-R on her website, and I managed to find a copy in an Atlanta-area record store this year.  John Dougan writes in the Allmusic review:   “Although it was released in 1983, this collection represents just about everything San Francisco’s late, great Avengers recorded from 1977-1978.  By contemporary standards, it’s by-the-book punk thrash:  Greg Ingraham’s guitar spews up hairball after hairball of distortion, while Penelope Houston snarls in her best impression of Johnny Rotten.  However, contemporary standards diminish what great music this was and what a great band they were.  Dozens of bands came in their wake, but few could recapture the excitement and ferocity of their sound.  Houston, who re-emerged years later as a folk-rocker, is in full fury on these 14 tracks, especially the youth culture solidarity anthem ‘We Are the One’ and the tale of desperation ‘Thin White Line’.  A few spins of this and you’ll hear how the Avengers influenced everyone from Black Flag to X.  Yes, they were that good.  A forgotten classic.” 
(March 2017)
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Madeline Ridley of SS-20 has a short performance called “Monitoring Madeline for Two Decades and Other Scenes” on a double-LP compilation album of alternative rock, spoken word, and poetry called English as a Second Language (1983) that has an amazing 84 cuts.  Others represented on the album include Charles BukowskiDave Alvin of the BlastersJohn Doe and Exene Cervenka of XHenry Rollins and Chuck Dukowski of Black FlagTito Larriva of the PlugzSusanna Hoffs of the BanglesJeffrey Lee Pierce of the Gun Club, record producer Craig Leon, prominent DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, and Kim Fowley.
Her work is also on two other similar compilation albums, Voices of the Angels (Spoken Words) and Neighborhood Rhythms (Patter Traffic) that feature many of the same artists and were released in the same time period. 
(December 2017)
Last edited: April 7, 2021