Punknews.org

Black Flag

Black Flag: Who's Got the 10?: Live (1986)
Black Flag

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


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

Often the debate arises on whether it was Henry Rollins or Greg Ginn that ruined Black Flag. Sometimes Unicorn's 1982-1983 injunction on Black Flag releases is singled out as the culprit. Despite valid points on all sides, the fact is that all three theories blaming someone for ruining Black Flag ar.
iTunes StoreAmazon


Often the debate arises on whether it was Henry Rollins or Greg Ginn that ruined Black Flag. Sometimes Unicorn's 1982-1983 injunction on Black Flag releases is singled out as the culprit. Despite valid points on all sides, the fact is that all three theories blaming someone for ruining Black Flag are wrong simply because Black Flag was never ruined. While the immediate differences between the pre-Damaged and post-Damaged output are quite striking, let's remember that with every release, Black Flag evolved its sound going in dramatic new directions. What made Black Flag stand out is that it was willing to take risks that its contemporaries eschewed. Look at the entirely non-musical Dez-era song "Machine," or Rollins' version of "Damaged 1." These songs stand as some of Black Flag's greatest moments because they were risky, dangerous, and completely brand new. So, once Black Flag began to evolve past Damaged, it's unfair to accuse the band of changing or being ruined. In contrast, Black Flag seemed to be the most punk of all by refusing to identify with a certain image, sound and vehemently remaining DIY. So on the band's final release, the live Who's Got the 10?, Black Flag matured into an infinitely interesting, sometimes meandering, improvisational unit.

Featuring the band's second to last incarnation which included Kira and Anthony Martinez, the songs on 10 feature more fiery takes than their studio counterparts. Together, Kira and Roessler add a more metallic, heaver sound to the band. Whereas Black Flag used to snap in and out of songs in a wild frenzy, they now trudged down hills picking up momentum as the songs progressed. Some of the latter day Black Flag albums had some songs that seemed under-rehearsed, as if the band didn't know quite where to add emphasis on certain parts of certain songs. But by the time they were recorded for this album, the tunes were at that perfect point where the band is comfortable to let the songs stretch themselves out, but no so comfortable with them that they become stale. Rollins howls not just at the song's climax, but also at unexpected parts, making the music seem more freeform than any previous release. Lastly, Rollins seems to have really supplied the extra umph that was missing from the three overly rushed 1984 SST albums, particularly in "Annihilate," which as legend goes, was written in reaction to Loverboy's "Workin' for the Weekend." Ginn's response features some of his most clever lyrics with the ambiguous phrase "You just can't forget that night in your Corvette."

Greg Ginn, the mastermind behind Back Flag, seems to have forgone the idea in creating snappy tunes in lieu of creating challenging songs. On "Modern Man," "The Best One Yet" and "I'm the One" the guitar lines don't sound "good," but they challenge the ear to develop the ability to appreciate Ginn's purposeful dissonance. Sometimes the bar Ginn sets on the live recording is rewarding as it enables the listener to appreciate new levels of sonic textures (as opposed to musical textures) and sometimes he either sets the bar too high or doesn't set it at all and all we get is nasty noise.

While the earlier Black Flag albums were challenging in their brevity and conciseness, Who's Got the 10? is challenging in its length and complexity. Sometimes it does drone on and overstay its welcome. But in the places where the sonic experiments are successful, Black Flag proves that it was one of the most successful and daring groups not only in punk, but in modern music itself.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Black Flag - DamagedThe Replacements - Let It BeBlack Flag - The First Four YearsThe Clash - London CallingDead to Me - Cuban BallerinaThe Clash - Give 'Em Enough RopeDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseRamones - Rocket to RussiaBlack Flag - Slip It In

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.
rinjonjori (September 20, 2007)

I think you meant Kira and Martinez-- Kira is Kira Roessler. I prefer Live 84 only because I have listened to 50 trillion times since 1985...

borntaloze (September 19, 2007)

I was always and still am a huge fan of this album. I cant tell you how many of my mixtapes the live version of slip it in made it on over the years.

and to the person who commented about henry not being a good singer...what a dumb comment for so many reasons. it's punk rock not pavarotti.

i'm putting this on the ipod on the way home from work tonight.

misterspike (September 19, 2007)

Are you kidding me? 3.5 stars???? This is the greatest live album ever recorded. Henry is in top form- screaming his lungs out like a man possessed and the rest of the band is far tighter than they are on record. This is my favorite Black Flag release.

It's not that Brandon is biased at all, either. I don't know about "greatest live album ever recorded" ... but definitely better than Flag's Live '84 in my opinion. This album was my introduction to Black Flag way back when ....

lushj (September 19, 2007)

P.S.- Kira. Duh!

lushj (September 19, 2007)

This is an intense, kick ass live record. It's not as incredible as Ramones "It's Alive" or Dictators "Viva Dictators," but about as cool as The Clash "Live From Here To Eternity!"

MikeStupid (September 19, 2007)

I think this is the only Black Flag record I don't have yet. I need to get on that.

BrandonSideleau (September 19, 2007)

none of the Black Flag vocalists were "good singers" retard....atleast not in any conventional sense........they were definitely just what the music needed though....and of those people Rollins had the most intense, visceral scream.

IDontHaveAnAccountYet (September 19, 2007)

This is one of my favorite albums of all time. I'm gonna go dig it out and listen to it.

Torgo (September 19, 2007)

I like Rollins, but surely no one thinks he's a good singer.

DickAround (September 19, 2007)

"Kira and Roessler add a more metallic, heaver sound to the band."

Was a good review till that uninformed nonsense. Black Flag is awesome, this review sucks. I prefer Live '84.

TheOneTrueBill (September 19, 2007)

Woah. Slow down there and let's not say things we can't take back.

fallingupwards84 (September 18, 2007)

Black Flag was at their best post-Damaged anyway

BrandonSideleau (September 18, 2007)

Are you kidding me? 3.5 stars???? This is the greatest live album ever recorded. Henry is in top form- screaming his lungs out like a man possessed and the rest of the band is far tighter than they are on record. This is my favorite Black Flag release.

mclz (September 18, 2007)

they probably didn't realize how easy they were making it for black fag in the future

DrGunn (September 18, 2007)

a lot of these tracks (ie the loose nut ones) are better than the studio version, but still overall way too wanky like most later-era black flag. and hell, i LIKE wanky music, but later BF is too self indulgent without any sense of thrill or drive to it.

GlassPipeMurder (September 18, 2007)

kind of a strange opening.

Henry Rollins was the best thing that ever happened to Black Flag, imo.

Exclusive Streams

Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Other Places to Go