In terms of American hardcore, nobody takes the cake other than Los Angeles’ very own Black Flag. Whether it’s rain or shine, good times or bad, and even the mischievous moments in life we all enjoy, Black Flag never gets old. Led by guitarist Greg Ginn from 1976 to 1986, Black Flag blazed a path rarely few bands ever follow nowadays. Built on an incredibly strong “do-it-yourself” ethic with his own record label SST Records, Ginn and Flag implied a very straightforward approach to everything. Topics such as neurosis, paranoia, social anxiety, drug use, police corruption and the dark side of the American Dream seeped their ways out of Ginn’s mind and into some of the hardest hardcore anthems ever recorded.
From the early days to the end, Ginn implied a different approach to the guitar, both for songwriting and for technical skill. He used his trusty Ampeg Dan Armstrong as more than just a guitar, but as a battle axe to cut through the mainstream and channel his distorted imagery to those who felt the same way as the band itself. In 1981, the band recorded their first album, the classic and heavy-as-hell Damaged. After many EPs and revolving singers, (which included eventual Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris), a young Henry Rollins makes his debut less than a month after joining the band and gives one of punk’s finest hours.
Here on December 20th, 1984, the Flag are shown ripping the floorboards up at the Embassy Hotel in Ontario with one of my favorites, track seven off of Damaged, “Police Story”. Talk about a great pre-Christmas gift! Here Rollins is in full form while Greg Ginn is tearing his guitar up like a beast. This was taken during the band’s My War tour and clearly shows how far ahead of the bell curve Ginn’s writing was in the hardcore world. Without further ado, here’s Black Flag doing what they do best.
Black Flag – “Police Story”