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The First Four Years

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Vinyl, October 17, 1990
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Audio, Cassette, October 17, 1990
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The First Four Years + Damaged + Complete Discography
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Product Details

  • Vinyl (October 17, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sst Records
  • ASIN: B000000LZK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,055 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Nervous Breakdown
2. Fix Me
3. I've Had It
4. Wasted
5. Jealous Again
6. Revenge
7. White Minority
8. No Values
9. You Bet We've Got Something Against You!
10. Clocked In
11. Six Pack
12. I've Heard It Before
13. American Waste
14. Machine
15. Louie, Louie
16. Damaged I

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 58 customer reviews
If you like punk this one is a must have.
Eduardo J. Martinez
This is one of the best collections of any band ever compiled!
N. W. Hartung
Black Flag is great to rock out to, skate to, and fight to.
Nick Hinton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tim MacKenzie on November 7, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This cd covers the early releases of Black Flag up to the Louie Louie 7"(Damaged was next). First up is Nervous Breakdown ep with Keith Morris(later of Circle Jerks)on vocals, and for a first ep this is real good. Released in early 1980(I think), it's 4 songs are early punk blasts that kinda show where they were headed, but more representative of their sound was their next release, the Jealous Again 12", 5 raging blasts that were more indicative of their sound to come, this had singer Chavo Pederast(Ron Reyes), who also appeared in the Decline Of Western Civilation film with them. Next up is a comp. track, Clocked In, taken from the Cracks In The Sidewalk compilation album. This was the first with Dez Cadena singing, and he finishes out the cd, as he sang right up to the point that Henry Rollins joined. The Six Pack single is next and is much like Clocked In as far as sound goes, and all 3 songs are excellent. After that, Machine, from the Chunks compilation, is kinda odd sounding at first, but soon charges along as per usual. the cd finishes up with the Louie Louie 7", and this is probably the best version of Louie Louie ever released. The b-side is Damaged I, and as much as I like the album version of this, the Dez version is pretty heavy. All in all a great cd introduction to Black Flag's early pre-Henry material, and a must have for any fan. Get it and trash your house playing air guitar.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By D. K. Malone on September 19, 2003
Format: Audio CD
When punk rock first came to be in the 70s, for the most part it was really just plain old rock & roll in new clothing. It was louder and faster and whatnot, but the songs still boiled down to the same old blues based riffs and pop motifs. Black Flag might not have been the very first band who took it to the next level (that credit should probably go to the Middle Class or maybe even the Germs,) but they were undeniably the one band who piled into a van and blazed the trail across the USA, introducing a lot of people to Hardcore for the first time.

Black Flag's sound was very agressive, very brutal, very angry. This music was literally scary in its day. Catchy hooks are sacrificed for sheer power and force. Melody is eschewed in favor of atonal rage. The evolution is pretty evident on this disk, if a tad abrupt; the first four songs from the debut 7" Nervous Breakdown have a somewhat Ramones-ish tint to them, they were at least slightly "sing-songy". After that, prepare for a sudden left turn into the psychotic stuff. I imagine this will sound somewhat tame to someone who's never heard it before and is familiar with more contemporary "aggro" music. Guitarist and founder Greg Ginn was a true musical pioneer, which was evident in the fact that he quickly grew bored with the hardcore sound and continued experimenting and evolving his music. It didn't always sound this good, but at least he had (musical) integrity. One thing that must be said is that his insane sounding solos sound like he's playing random notes as fast as he can, but he isn't. He played them exactly the same at every gig. Genius.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "darthscooter" on April 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Henry Rollins, who would later rise to fame as a spoken word artist and frontman for "Rollins Band", refers to this album as "The densest bunch of jams ever, with the possible exception of the Funhouse album by The Stooges". Rollins is not to be found on this compilation, as he did not become lead singer of Black Flag until after these tracks were released. This compilation represents everything that was righteous about California Punk in the early-to-mid-80's. With songs like Revenge, White Minority, Jealous Again, and Six Pack, Greg Ginn and company show why they were leading the assault against the boring Rock and Roll stereotype. It wasn't fortune and fame that drove this band, it was the desire to conqure the world with the toughest riffs and hardest raw emotion packed tightly into one-and-a-half minute capsules that America ever saw. If you think that Green Day and Weezer are punk rock, PLEASE buy this album. You will be enlightened, I promise!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Reza on May 7, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This was the first album which got me into hardcore and out of heavy metal hell. As stated before this is basically everything Black Flag released before they hooked up with Hank. The cd definately has a Ramones feel to it, as the instruments are played with reckless abandon and the vocals screamed out. It's a lot less 'thought out' than the Rollins years (which still rule). This is an excellent introduction for anyone wanting to get into Black Flag or Hardcore.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. N. Davess on January 14, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Here we have 3 discernable phases and "vibes" of Black Flag, aided by line-up (mainly vocalist) changes, and amounting to separate (although closely-related) and refresheningly liberating stances in themselves.

There's the first, 1978 'Nervous Breakdown' e.p. with vocalist Keith Morris (later frontman of the Circle Jerks), which is a really powerful and trashy, beach-bum, 'don't care', messed-up, kind of lazy scream of throwing glitz, false manners, composure and status to the wind.

Then, using the previous as its starting point, there's the snotty, obnoxious, incorrect, directly anti-authority, impudently individual and nihilistic, even threatening, and even more powerful, almost violent venom of the 1980 'Jealous Again' e.p.

Then there's the sharper, darker, sinister, even more cynical and controntational stance (attacking a perceived even wider, more impersonal, deep-rooted, frightening authority) expressed in barking rejection and overdrive guitar in the 'Dez Cadena' phase of, I think, 1980/81 (having moved from guitar to vocals, and moving back to guitar to provide a second guitar when Henry Rollins joined in 1981), including the 'Louie Louie' single ('Damaged I', from the b-side of that single, may be slicker, but it's also sharper and more sinister than the version on the 'Damaged' LP) and the 'Six Pack' e.p. (massive rebellious rage and screaming powerful guitar on 'I've Heard it Before') and the compilation tracks from 'Chunks' and 'Cracks in the Sidewalk'. All that hatred of work, of being forced into a conformist system, of being told how to live and be, and expressed so rawly and unequivocally. And this is an even more muscular, powerful, totally rejecting rage.
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