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Spray Paint the Walls: The Story of Black Flag Paperback – November, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


...essential reading for any fan. - Rock Sound

About the Author

Stevie Chick has been writing about music for more than ten years, contributing to such titles as MOJO, The Guardian, Kerrang!, Plan B, Arena, The Times, NME, Sleazenation, Melody Maker and Careless Talk Costs Lives and editing underground rock magazine Loose Lips Sink Ships with photographer Steve Gullick. He is the author of Psychic COnfusion: The Sonic Youth Story, also published by Omnibus Press. He lives in South London.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 403 pages
  • Publisher: Omnibus Press; 1 edition (November 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847726208
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847726209
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,070,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read as much as I can find about Black Flag via interviews and articles found on the web, but this book has so much info that at times it reads like a text book. One minute you'll be reading about Black Flag gearing up for a show at a certain club, then the story will derail into giving you more info than you wanted about the club where they're playing.

There are so many different topics in this book that if you're looking for Black Flag information and only Black Flag information, you might get bored here, so bored that you may put the book down and never pick it up again. I honestly didn't start flying through the pages until Dez joined, the book staying interesting with Henry at the mic as well.

The book often paints Ginn in a negative light, and I would have never thought there was so much anger/animosity among the band members. It's kind of a bummer when reading this stuff, to think that my favorite band of all time basically hated each other, it kind of makes the music seem like a lie.

Overall this is a really great book, even if the writing is sometimes forced or full of filler. If you don't know much about Black Flag and you'd like to learn a lot, buy this book.

P.S. To the sellers who are pricing this book around $30 to $70, shame on you. It's collector/sellers like you that ruin music, books, art, ect. making it unavailable to those with less money.
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Format: Paperback
This book is filled with inaccuracies, as previously mentioned below. Some of which are too big to let slide. For example: the Misfits being a California band. The author is from England and obviously is not familiar with California, but, he makes a big deal about the difference between L.A. and O.C. and how the scenes were so different, the violence and so on. The author has no idea which bands are from OC and which are from LA.For instance he says Eddie and the Subtitles were from Manhattan Beach (LA), and Wasted Youth and Circle One were from OC with "deep connections to the local punk gangs." This is in reference to them playing at The Cuckoo's Nest.

The Screws are referred to as The Skrews or The Skrewz. Chick also refers to HB as Huntingdon. This was weird because it was sometimes spelled correctly during interviews. Chick included a section about the Dogtown skaters and their influence on the Southern California punk scene. OK, but it was clearly ripped right out of a recent viewing of the Dogtown and the Legend of Z-Boys movie. The author then goes on to say Tony Alva, Jay Adams, and Steve Alba are from Orange County. WTF? Oh, and if you want to mention something about SoCal skaters influence on SoCal punk at that time, at least mention Steve Olson.

The author is completely unfamiliar with California, which got aggravating at times. But still, this is an interesting, and important book about an important band. Deducting stars for misinformation. The other most aggravating oddity in the book was when the author says something about hipsters who were too young to see BF back when they were starting like to say they prefer Keith, Ron, Dez over Henry because it is cool to say that. WTF? That is an opinion. Some of us are just old.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is predominantly a batch of information derived from a few books that have come before it; Henry Rollins' GET IN THE VAN, James Parker's TURNED ON, WE OWE YOU NOTHING (from the punk planet interviews), and THIS BAND COULD BE YOUR LIFE by Michael Azerrad. I've read all of those books and was excited to read something historical about Black Flag. Unfortunately there wasn't much I didn't know already (from reading the aforementioned books and seeing the band). There were new interviews that almost filled in some holes in the band's history and bits of trivia, but there were also those passages that biographers that don't know a lot firsthand about their subject inject, like "Hermosa Beach, California in the late 70's was all surf and sun, Jimmy Carter was president, and Fleetwood Mac was dominating the airwaves, blah blah blah...." (not an actual quote from the book.) Sometimes that gives the reader a sense of time or context, and at other times it seems to be a method of filling up a book. One important point the author does make is the importance of Chuck Dukowski in the band versus who anyone's favorite singer was. I would recommend the books that were mentioned earlier and probably Joe Carducci's ROCK AND THE POP NARCOTIC before reading this.
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Format: Paperback
I just finished this book, and found it to be readable and engaging, although certainly not prefect.

One thing to realize going in: this book is just as much about label SST as it is about Black Flag. If you cut out all of the not-Flag-specific text, the book would be probably half as long as it is. The two were pretty intertwined, so I have no problem with the inclusion of that material.

"Spray Paint..." makes heavy use of the books that came before, as Joe Franke notes, but Chick also conducted numerous interviews himself with many of the principal players in the Black Flag/SST scene. Keith Morris, Mike Watt, Joe Carducci, Tom Troccoli, Mugger and especially Chuck Dukowski really help to round the book out with interviews conducted in 2009. Brendan Mullen, Kira Roessler, Ron Reyes, Dez Cadena, and Mark Arm (among others) were also interviewed and have generally interesting and relevant things to say.

Main Flag man Greg Ginn was not interviewed, although I'm sure Chick tried. Instead, he pulls quotes and information from probably every interview Greg ever gave to a fanzine or newspaper to shed some light on his interpretation of events. As someone who has not read any of the previous Flag books besides "Get in the Van: On the Road With Black Flag (2nd Edition)", I found these snippets to be very useful.

Henry Rollins was also not interviewed for this book, but fortunately his take on things is well documented, and Chick draws from a number of Rollins books and spoken word performances for background and details.
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