Title: Black Coffee
Artist: Black Flag
Album: Slip It In
Year Released: 1984
What It Is: One of the gazillion releases for Black Flag from 1984-86 (after being freed of an onerous contract), it’s typical Flag. Greg Ginn dishes out searing guitar, Kira and Bill Stephenson hold down bass and drums competently, and Henry Rollins dishes out the angst and alienation on a silver (yet tarnished) platter.
Riffage / Hookage: Flag always had the riffs, but by this time Ginn was concentrating on slower, more powerful guitar statements. So you can hear the guitar eat your insides out, and then the solo is all fusion-y. Vital.
Cowbell?: YES! Stevenson (or perhaps Spot or Mugger or someone) bangs on a cowbell. Stevenson really loved his snare drum on this cut!
Words Of Wisdom: “My heart is pounding, as stare at the wall
Its my turn to be jealous, now I don’t stand for it all
In fact I’m pretty stupid, I’m feeling small
Anger and coffee, feeling mean
Drinking black coffee, black coffee, black coffee, staring at the wall
Black coffee, black coffee, black coffee, staring at the wall
Black coffee, drinking black coffee, drinking black coffee, staring at the…
Stab through my heart, stab through my heart, stab through my heart
But its all in my mind, mind, mind, mind
Just in my mind, mind, mind, mind
Its just in my mind”
You would think that this would be Rollins’ lyrics, with the rage and the caffeine sharing the spotlight. But nope, it’s all credited to Ginn. You can feel the self-loathing drip off of Rollins’ sweat. (Ew….)
Mixology Report: Flag is always hard to truly mix. The sound ain’t the best in the world (especially digitally) and it has a tendency to polarize and alienate. But you know what – it’s pretty darn solid rock and roll in the end.
Top Five Genius Results: Stars & Stripes Of Corruption – Dead Kennedys
Hired Gun – Bad Brains
World Up My Ass – Circle Jerks
Low Self Opinion – Rollins Band (I would have thought “Burned Beyond Recognition”)
Stumped – Minor Threat
For The Good Of The Order: This was probably the strongest Flag lineup, musically. Rollins was growing into his own as a howler. Stevenson was the best Flag drummer (technically – Robo had the heart). Kira was by far the best bass player (and she married Mike Watt later on) and Ginn’s guitar playing grew from hardcore shredding to rivaling D. Boon as a punk rock visionary. The one thing that held Flag back was the production, which really can’t be blamed on them since they were scraping for every last time. Oh, and they’d sometimes write clunkers (like the three songs on the second side of “My War” – ICK!) and put ’em out, because, you know, it’s what you did in the DIY era.
Two, count ’em, two clips for you. Both live. Look at Hank prowl around in his short shorts. Look at his relative lack of tats. Look at Ginn give it his all. Look at Kira and Stevenson just sit back and hold things down.