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I bet no one could see this coming; a hardcore punk album split down the middle, with one half devoted to instrumentals and the other given over to spoken word narratives from Henry Rollins, unaccompanied by backing music until his grand finale 'Armageddon Man.' Black Flag's inventiveness will doubtless surprise anyone who approaches them with preconceptions of what makes hardcore punk rock, as Rollins' occasionally poetic, often surreal monologues are a far cry from the political conscience of earlier songs like 'Police Story.'
The monologues are mostly fairly short, with the exception of the ten-minute 'Armageddon Man' that works brilliantly, and the less impressive 'Let Your Fingers Do the Walking' that reminds me far too much of performance poetry in its half-rhyme/half-rap style. Most of them are far from enlightening, but 'Salt on a Slug' boasts inferior sound quality and seems to have been recorded in front of a small, intimate audience who find Rollins' tale amusing, but which disappointingly cuts off just when the literal account starts to become more philosophical and Rollins imagines himself as the disintegrating mollusc.
The second, instrumental side of the album more than makes up for the vocal dominance of the previous half, and the band manages to make all four songs satisfyingly different. 'Long Lost Dog of It' is comparatively short and pleasant, 'I Won't Stick Any of You Unless and Until I Can Stick All of You!' is brilliantly intricate and relentless across its extended duration, 'Account for What?' has some of the most solid riffs and rhythms, and the finale 'The Pups Are Doggin' It' is fast and manic. This certainly isn't an album that's going to appeal to everyone, and if every Black Flag album sounded like this it wouldn't stand out as anything special, but as a one-off experiment it's a highly memorable curiosity in the history of punk.
1. Family Man
2. Salt on a Slug
3. Hollywood Diary
4. Let Your Fingers Do the Walking
5. Shed Reading (Rattus Norvegicus)
6. No Deposit, No Return
7. Armageddon Man
8. Long Lost Dog of It
9. I Won't Stick Any of You Unless and Until I Can Stick All of You!
10. Account for What?
11. The Pups Are Doggin' It
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Family Man
2 Salt On A Slug
3 Hollywood Diary
4 Let Your Fingers Do The Walking
5 Shed Reading (Rattus Norvegicus)
6 No Deposit No Return
7 Armageddon Man
8 Long Lost Dog Of It
9 I Won't Stick Any Of You Unless And Until I Can Stick All
10 Account For What
11 Pups Are Doggin' It