A recently reunited Black Flag plays tonight and tomorrow at the Observatory, which got me thinking: What songs do I want to hear live? The easy answer is "all of them," but let's face it, I don't want to hear any band do every song they know. Then I started thinking, "Ok, what are my favorite Black Flag songs I sure as hell hope they play?"
This isn't an easy answer seeing as how the group had four singers, one rhythm guitar player, three bassists and six drummers between its initial run from 1976 through 1986. As you might have guessed, each lineup transformed the group into something it wasn't before. Whereas the original lineup with guitarist Greg Ginn, singer Keith Morris, bassist Chuck Dukowski and drummer Bryan Migdol drew heavily from the Ramones, by the time Ginn, singer Henry Rollins, bassist C'el Revuelta and drummer Anthony Martinez toured in 1986, Black Flag was a heavy blues band that borrowed as much from Black Sabbath and Ornette Coleman than they did the Ramones.
Add the fact that Ginn -- the sole constant -- has reformed his group with second singer Ron Reyes (featured on the Jealous Again EP and the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization) and a new rhythm section (bassist Dave Klein and drummer Gregory Moore aka "Drummer") and you've got a headache as pounding as the second side to the band's 1984 record My War.