Friday, 25 April 2008



This is a helpful record to own when you are in your teens.  It is useful to know that there are other angry people out there, respectable and successful ones, adults.  To feel a surge in emotion towards the people and places that batter you is normal, indeed it can actually be healthy.

Black Flag was an amazing band.  When producing material such as this legendary punk acts such as the Sex Pistols and the Ramones couldn’t touch them on their best day.  Of course the longevity wasn’t there but for punk burning wasn’t a bad thing, you can only be at your most intense for so long.

The Nervous Breakdown EP was the first release on SST Records and thus it is a huge piece of punk rock history.  Few records have ever started so strong.

The first case of an actual nervous breakdown I ever encounter was that of a car mechanic called Basil that lived down my street when growing up.  He used to repair my car and put it through MOT for me.  Then one day during the week before Christmas with the brakes grinding we asked him to check the pads.  I swapped them over and said they were OK.  A day or so later I crashed my car at a set of traffic lights on the way to Colchester.  I just ploughed into the back of a van that stopped when the lights were yellow.  I vividly remember “Father To A Sister Of Thought” being the track playing on my car stereo at the time.  The van in front was fine but the front of my car was pancaked, a borderline write off.  And with my tail between my legs I drove into town to meet up with a girl called Jackie for a date who promptly did not bother to show.  It was a double whammy that ruined the Christmas of 1995.  Now I’m not saying that my mechanic’s nervous breakdown was responsible, but he was.  Ever since the term “nervous breakdown” has not been one to take lightly.

“Nervous Breakdown” the song is an amazing piece of energised work.  It is one of the most direct songs ever anywhere in the history of music.  Talk about getting to the fucking point.  In the space of just over two minutes rock music is changed forever.

Following up is the even tighter “Fix Me” a track enabling a full on rant rallying against the punk situation.  With a focus on “some day” the desire is to get good now neglecting the conventions apparently attempting to be installed by third parties.

The jarring guitar sound of Greg Ginn maintains with the angry “I’ve Had It” which effectively exudes the emotions of a frustrated individual at the end of their tether about to erupt.  It all ends with the threat “I’m going to explode….” sung in capital letters.

Finally “Wasted” closes the EP with another perfectly formed track that fails to break the minute mark.  In an effort to be offensive it delights in its declaration of being wilfully lazy and inebriated.  It plays into stereotypes with its self description (self analysis) exuding poor self esteem and else esteem.  From this both the author and the listener take strength.

In a matter of minutes and just four songs the band squeezes in the equivalent content of another band’s entire album.

Thesaurus moment: neurasthenia.

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