Punknews.org
FLAG - My War [digital single] (Cover Artwork)

FLAG

FLAG: My War [digital single]My War [digital single] (2013)
self-released

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:


Contributed by: JohnGentileJohnGentile
(others by this writer | submit your own)

"My War" is the first official media released by FLAG, the group featuring former Black Flag members Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena and Bill Stevenson, as well as Descendents guitarist Stephen Egerton. It's a daring choice that underscores Black Flag's formidable catalogue as well as the i.
iTunes StoreAmazon


"My War" is the first official media released by FLAG, the group featuring former Black Flag members Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena and Bill Stevenson, as well as Descendents guitarist Stephen Egerton. It's a daring choice that underscores Black Flag's formidable catalogue as well as the inherent talent of each of the members of FLAG.

Penned by Dukowski, "My War" is one of the most enduring Black Flag numbers. Originally immortalized by a frantic, self-destructive Henry Rollins on the My War album, the official studio recording of "My War" has the peculiar distinction of being one of Dukowski/Black Flag's greatest songs, but Dukoswki himself is not on the Black Flag studio recording. Rollins himself called it "the greatest song ever written" during a few stops of the West Memphis Three tour and even re-recorded it for his Rise Above album.

Whether Dukowski is sore that he didn't get to record on one of punk's most famous anthems, or whether he thinks it's a true representation of his art is unclear. But he obviously finds the song to be something special as it's one of the few Black Flag songs that Dukowski has played in his various bands after leaving the group and also having recorded it twice with his own band, The Chuck Dukowski Sextet.

So, in one respect it's not a surprise that the band chose "My War" to be their leading shot of media dispersal. But on the other hand, by the time Rollins recorded his vocals for "My War" in 1984, Black Flag were a drastically different group than when original vocalist Keith Morris was in the fold. With Rollins, Black Flag often dropped so far down into the concepts of desolation and agony that the songs were intense, but they were also despair physicalized and personified. By contrast, Morris' take on Black Flag had those elements, but he also had a sort of wry humor and sense of silliness that even severe songs like "Wasted," "Don't Care" and "Revenge" were kind of funny and also really, really fun.

Therefore, FLAG's issue of "My War" acts as sort of a test. Can the band merge the heaviness of the Rollins era with the manic delivery of Morris?



FLAG's "My War" opens with the same driving energy as the original studio recording. Egerton's guitar emulates that of Greg Ginn's by keeping the sound sharp, and remarkably, is also easier to bleed from note to note, whereas a lesser player would chop away at the notes. It may merely be a matter of better sound quality, but Egerton's take sounds fuller and larger than the original.

However, just as it did in 1984, the massively thick bass drives this song. In contrast to the thinner sound of "Dale Nixon," Dukowski seems to fill the room when piloting his own song, flooding with the instrument and taking up any space not occupied by the other instruments. The effect is that the song seems to transfer the agony from the instruments directly to the audience.

After the slow, rising of the intro, much like a rollercoaster, the song suddenly launches forward and downward in its fastest version to date. Morris nails the vocal intro lyrics of "My War!" His scream is raw, wet and from the back of his throat. While Morris sometimes is sort of a jester, here he's communicating pure anger, spitting out the song's lyrics with enough venom to stack up to any of its other versions.

One of Morris' skills is the use of dynamics. While most covers of the song feature a vocalist screaming at the top of their lungs throughout the song, Morris knows when to drift away and when to suddenly explode forward, making his screams seem like the only thing in the room, until the band crash downward again.

A great deal of rockers strive to "age gracefully," updating and usually calming their music to a more dignified cadence. By contrast, Morris still sounds like he's 18. He still has the flared eyes which, when he sings, "You say that you're my friend but your one of them!" makes it sound like the song was written yesterday. It's a testament that shows "My War," which is almost thirty years old, speaks to a fundamental truth and sounds entirely fresh despite its advanced age.

Interestingly, Morris makes a curious choice for the song's famous ad-lib section. At the songs bridge, he snaps, "I have a prediction, it comes with me every day / it lives in my brain, everyday / if I had a gun in my heart / deep down I know / If I had a gun / I'd shoot someone! / Just kill the motherfuckers! / And that ain't cool! / Don't make me that way!"

In an age where school shootings are a very real threat, the song's lyrics were unfortunately a prophecy. Thus, it seems that where the song was an expression of disassociation, Morris has now also pushed it into a plea for society to help those that are disconnected. Phenomenal.

By now, the proof is on the table. FLAG are an awesome live band. So now, listeners are forced to make a choice. Will you choose to celebrate five great musicians playing great music from a great band and have some amazing fun while letting our heroes know that they are appreciated, or will you allow some ambiguous, ill-defined, abstract concept about "reunions" make you miserable about the whole thing? Frankly, life is short. I go for the fun.

Notes:

-Watch this bad boy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNTE7TXhv9c&feature=youtu.be

-Dear FLAG, please oh please oh please release a live album.

-The Yance and I will be at the Philly FLAG shows and maybe Ohio. Come say hi.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Classics of Love - Classics of LoveThe Stooges - The StoogesOFF! - 1st EPOFF! - First Four EPs [box set]OFF! - OFF!Black Flag - The First Four YearsDear Landlord - Dream HomesThe Flatliners - CavalcadeHot Water Music - ExisterConverge - All We Love We Leave Behind

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
devianter (May 21, 2013)

thenewpope you win the internet today

drugstorehooligan (May 17, 2013)

All in all (no pun intended) I can imagine Dez is just happy to play in a cover band where he doesn't have to look like he has diarrhea...

thenewpope (May 17, 2013)

all this black flag/flag hoopla is like jerkin' off with your opposite hand.
It feels weird but pretty good.You start wondering why you dont do this all the time.
Then boom the climax hits.
You're left standing disappointed and embarrassed that its still just your hand and not a hole

wolfparty (May 17, 2013)

'Therefore, FLAG's issue of "My War" acts as sort of a test. Can the band merge the heaviness of the Rollins era with the manic delivery of Morris?'

I don't even know how this is a question, as this is a glorified cover band with no apparent intention of creating new music. They are exactly the sum of their parts: some ringers who double as past members of Black Flag playing Black Flag songs.

(This is not a defense of the current incarnation of Black Flag, they're both bullshit.)

telegraphrocks (May 17, 2013)

A perfect score for a fucking live video? A fucking review for a fucking live video?

I'll admit the footage and concept of these 5 dudes is pretty awesome, but, yeah... stop fawning over this so much. Are you the same guy that wrote that 8,000,000,000 word essay a few weeks ago and called it an interview?

Whoever said they should do a live album, I agree. That'd be the best.

hobbzoid (May 16, 2013)

it's still just a tribute band. Gentile I don't get you at all. Fawning over this is ridiculous.

1776 (May 15, 2013)

@TahoeJeff -- good call on Avail. Definitely has an early-mid-90's Lookout! HC sound. "Suri Cruise Missile" has gotten about a dozen plays in the past 24 hrs.

brutus (May 15, 2013)

My guess regarding Steven's difference in guitar tone would be attributed to the fact that Greg Ginn played through solid state amplifiers.

johngentile (May 15, 2013)

@mattthevegan

We cool, we cool.

mattthevegan (May 15, 2013)

@John

"This isn't pitchfork. If something is awesome, I'm going to say so.

Five talented dudes that still have awesome skills playing what maybe the greatest punk song of all time.

That's a 5/5"

Eh, sorry for the snark. Listening to the live track I'm really into it, Egerton's guitar work adds a fresh spin to it without it sounding too different and Morris is really fierce on vocals, so no disagreement there. This actually makes me want to go see FLAG, and concerned over how the old stuff will sound with Reyes on vocals.

drugstorehooligan (May 15, 2013)

I'm starting to think that I like the concept of Black Flag more than the music. I love the combination of members in Flag and I'm excited about what I've seen. But... why don't these dudes use their power to write new songs? Black Flags new efforts may not be the most imaginative, but they're writing new songs. I've heard My War before.

ak3punk (May 15, 2013)

Where can I buy this? It's not in the Canadian ITunes store.

MN_DrNick (May 15, 2013)

Yup. FLAG > Black Flag

IllaZilla (May 15, 2013)

Is this actually a digital single? Like, can you buy & download it? The links in the review both go to listings for the original My War album. I've searched Amazon, iTunes, and the band's FB and Twitter feeds but can't find an actual download of FLAG's version. Or is this a review of the live performance seen in the video?

TahoeJeff (May 15, 2013)

Just checked out that Careers in Science band...pretty cool. Holy Shit! Giant Spiders! is kind of a jam. Reminds me of a bunch of stuff.Descendents...Avail...

1776 (May 14, 2013)

I enjoyed this. Not sure where it fits in the history of "My War" versions.

Unrelated -- Careers in Science -- wow. Why isn't everyone talking about Foreverwolf?

johngentile (May 14, 2013)

Johnnyrawker, thanks for the props!

totalrelapse (May 14, 2013)

Actually, there's more reasons behind Stephen's 'full' tone besides Dez backing him up.
Ginn played single notes (both live and on the record) while playing the main riff and his guitar's tone pot. was turned all the way down, in order to maintain that deep haunting sound with easier access to unnatural harmonics, while Egerton aims for a much higher / crunchier tone and plays the riff completely in power chords.
Anyway, I can't possibly support FLAG any more than I do now. Much love to all of the guys.
As for Ginn's shitting on the Black Flag name, it's too depressing to see what he's willing to do for money.
Why couldn't him and Ron have just made their 'Black Flag' another one of Ginn's godforsaken side projects?

paulsilence (May 14, 2013)

Anytime: you're* you're* you're*

anytime (May 14, 2013)

My war. Your one of them. You said, that your my friend but your one of them!

Jonnyrawker (May 14, 2013)

I rarely post but i had to comment for 2 reasons, this song is by far my favorite Black Flag song and the huge reason for that is Rollins. But my god, Keith Morris KILLS this. Amazing. And Bill Stevensons drumming really makes this version shine. Also hoping for a live album.
2nd reason, John G, man! I love your writing. And you are the main reason i listen to the Podcasts. Keep on keepin on man.

MrTorso (May 14, 2013)

Does Morris keep the between songs talking/ranting/preaching to a minimum with FLAG or is it Morris as usual? I really can't take 2 minutes of fast music with 5 minutes of talking in between every single song.

davebrave4 (May 14, 2013)

Does anyone know if either reunion has any Wisconin dates planned? I doubt it, but you never know....

hobbzoid (May 14, 2013)

i'm so tired of these flags. all of them. very lame.

johngentile (May 14, 2013)

"The guitar maybe sounds fuller, because Dez is also playing guitar. Just a thought."

True, true.

allbutone (May 14, 2013)

The guitar maybe sounds fuller, because Dez is also playing guitar. Just a thought.

Ravnos (May 14, 2013)

My favourite version of this song is actually the Rise Above version, but this comes very close. I'm pretty impressed with Keith's take on this, I always felt a bit let down by his versions of the Damaged songs on Everything Went Black and wouldn't have thought he could do the darker Black Flag stuff justice to this extent.

strumz (May 14, 2013)

this just made my day :)

killtaker (May 14, 2013)

John really pads these reviews with extraneous shit.

Dominator (May 14, 2013)

Your turn Greg Ginn!

irish_punk_is_gimmickry (May 14, 2013)

i've officially heard enough about all this dumb bullshit.................................

shark-e (May 14, 2013)

It's almost unfair how much better FLAG is than modern Black Flag.

johngentile (May 14, 2013)

"Thanks for the post but for real can John cover this band without it sounding like he's being paid to do their PR?"

This isn't pitchfork. If something is awesome, I'm going to say so.

Five talented dudes that still have awesome skills playing what maybe the greatest punk song of all time.

That's a 5/5.

mattthevegan (May 14, 2013)

Thanks for the post but for real can John cover this band without it sounding like he's being paid to do their PR?

Contests

Exclusive Streams

Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Other Places to Go