Black Flag - Nervous Breakdown (Cover Artwork)

Black Flag

Nervous Breakdown (1978)


Black Flag's first recorded release only hints around the edges at the possibility of blues-punk masterpieces like "My War" and "Slip It In", and there's not much of the super-speed havoc of "Damaged" in it, either.

What we have here is some really raw punk rock, played with undeniable conviction. Before the machismo of later singers, it seemed that Ginn prefered a genuinely interesting voice to fit his music. Keith Morris, of Circle Jerks fame, was the perfect match. The music is simple, but proves that a little goes a long way. Seemingly elementary riffs are worked through such a determined and hard working guitarist that they come out sounding everything but lazy. It's a combination of Ramones catchiness with Sex Pistols attitude. Keith Morris even sounds quite like Johnny, especially when elongating "wasted". It's this uncontrollable anger at everything, minus the by-then stereotypical fashion or posing. Idealistically, this is what punk rock should be all about.

Production is menial... If it bothers you too much, I don't suggest listening to much in the way of punk rock, anyway.

The songs are frustrated anthems; "Nervous Breakdown" remaining a live standard for years to come. "Fix Me", another song about going insane... Then the ever-rebellious "I've Had It". Maybe the riff is a bit more choppy, but it still dishes out harder than most bands could dream of. It's all rounded off with "Wasted", the ultimate minute long anthem, and the only one penned by Morris for this record.

This definitely deserves the highest score possible. Punk doesn't get much better.