Napalming its way onto the often violent California punk scene of the early 1980s, Damaged (1981) is one of the angriest and most confronting albums ever.
Although Black Flag had been recording for three years prior to its release, the fact that 20-year-old fan and sometimes ice cream store manager Henry Rollins was now grasping the microphone made all the difference.
His physical and tenacious presence, backed by the powerful guitar of founder Gregg Ginn, shook the Los Angeles punk scene with such ferocity that the band were considered by some sections of the L.A. law enforcement community as “political terrorists”, and were often kept under surveillance.
MCA Records refused to release Damaged, saying that it was “immoral”, but when Ginn finally released it on his own SST label American punk rock was changed forever. The album can even be credited with helping to lay the groundwork for the American DIY punk touring circuit that still exists today – the band set off on tour with nothing but a van, a map, and a lot of rage.
While their earlier albums had a more 1977-style punk sound, Damaged introduced the hardcore/thrash blitz that they were to become famous for.
Pivotal albums included My War (1984) and In My Head (1985), while their diversity was showcased on Family Man (1984), which contrasted a side of Rollins’ poetry with four excellent instrumentals.
The group split up in 1986 following the release of a compulsive live set, Who’s Got The 10½?
Roberto “Robo” Valverde