Three tightly-wound shouters that pound on past in about two pissed-off minutes each. It’s catchy negativity with raw Cardena vox, squealing Ginn leads, and rudimentary drumming that succeeds simply by pushing it all forward. A strong record, and quite an entertaining one to boot. So why am I not a bigger Black Flag fan? The lyrics are smart and funny, the general attitude is appealing, and I like the singing and the guitar… what’s wrong? At first I lazily assumed it was a “hadta be there” deal, but that’s clearly not true because I have plenty of friends who love the band and who definitely were not “there.” Back to the drawing board went my brain, and what I figger now is that because I didn’t investigate Black Flag very deeply when I was in my mid-teens, I’m now just incapable of GETTING IT. This kind of mad-at-everything musical machine-gunning is tailor-made for youngsters, and that’s in no way intended as a slap; these guys had it DOWN and did it really, really well. But coming at the material at my advanced age (I recently turned 63), I just can’t click with it on the visceral gut-level it demands. Now, the Wipers’ Is This Real record is one of my all-time favorites, and I wonder sometimes whether I would have been repelled by its overwrought emotional juvenilia – despite its incredible pop smarts – had I first encountered it as a “grown-up” rather than as a middle-schooler… Dunno, but I suspect that that gets to the heart of my ambivalence towards BF. Am I wrong?? Am I just a Black Flag-hating asshole? A square? Do I not own the right records? Is there one that would totally convince me that these guys were the cat’s pajamas (that’s what kids say, right?)? What do you think?? TELL ME NOW!