Tokyo Damage Report



I’m not one of those people who has a favorite Black Flag singer. It’s funny to watch grown men arguing like tween girls discussing their favorite New Kid On A Block. "Mark? Eww! Jordon 4ever!"


Any Black Flag singer was just fine. They all got the job done.

The genius of early Flag was that, a song like No Values would have sounded great no matter who sang it. Frank Sinatra? Rad. Biz Markie? Rad. An 8-year-old girl? Sure! The parakeet from Hatebeak?Swell.

It wasn’t until after Rollins went solo that I really understood what made him different from Morris, Chavo, Dez . . . Elton, Eminem, Placido Domingo. . . er, pretty much everybody.
His first record, HOT ANIMAL MACHINE was pretty good. It had a good balance of My War-era jazzy dissonance with Rollins’ own unique style. So. OK, fine! But everything after that – WTF? It’s like Rollins went into the nearest Guitar Center and picked out the first 3 guys jamming to be his band: “Hey! You can play smoke on the water while a clerk laughs at you? Rad! You’re hired! Oooh snap! You di’int ! You di’int just play a Chilli Peppers song on bass?!? You’re hired too! Allright, fellas, let’s rock out!” . . .
at first I was mad because all of his post-HOT ANIMAL MACHINE stuff was unlistenable. But then I realized – wait, hold on. He is still singing with the same manic intensity and fugue-state fury he did with Flag. He honestly doesn’t seem to realize that his backup band went from Most Infamous Band In Hardcore to High School Pearl Jam Cover Band. This means . . .the dude is weird. In his spoken-word performance, guy is totally charming, articulate, evocative, but somehow you put a band behind him and dude turns totally RAIN MAN and goes into a fugue state.





You could replace his dolphin shorts with lederhosen and plop him down in front of an oom-pah Oktoberfest polka band, hand him a pretzel to sing into, and he’d be all AAAAAAHHH! AAAAAAIEEEEE! ROLL OUT THE BARREL!!!!!!!!!! DRINK, DRIVE, KILLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!.
You could put him in front of two Hawaian guys bangin’ coconuts together and tooting on a conch shell, and he would be like AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRR! WE’RE GONNA BE A HALOE MINORITTTTTAIEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU’RE ONE OF THEMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You could have Scotty teleport Rollins in to the middle of a Conway Twitty concert, middle of a ballad, and it would be all AAAAAAAAGGGHHHH!!!!!!! I WANT TO MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU MAKE ME FEEEEEELLLL!!!!!!!!!!!! STICK MEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!HONKY TONK WOMANNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!
I think that’s the true genius of Rollins – he’s probably the only person on Earth who could do that.  People don’t realize he has this super-power because his first couple of bands (SOA, FLAG) suited  his voice, but no, that was just a coincidence.
I wouldn’t mind his solo albums failure to rock, if only he would use his powers to their full potential.  He should actually DO the rag-time version of  Damaged. He should actually DO the conch-shell version of  "Side 2." 


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4 Comments so far

  1. Keith McX October 23rd, 2009 10:36 pm

    I think Lifetime through The End Of Silence are great. Rollins vocal performance is so over the to on Lifetime, it makes me wish he found this voice while in Flag.

  2. haRDY November 1st, 2009 11:03 am


  3. admin November 1st, 2009 10:43 pm

    @hardy: was the title of this post “black flag”?

  4. Toasterwings January 23rd, 2010 8:27 am

    I saw Rollins when he did the all Black Flag tour, and I thought it was rad. Then again, I was but a glint in my father’s eye by the time My War came out, so I never got to see the real deal.

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