Each week, we take a look at some obscure or overlooked entries in the catalogs of music’s big names. MAGNET’s Bryan Bierman focuses on an album that, for whatever reason, slipped through the cracks in favor of its more popular siblings. Whether it’s new to you or just needs a revisit, we’ll highlight the Hidden Gems that reveal the bigger picture of our favorite artists.
“I’ll tell you about ‘punk rock’—‘punk rock’ is a word used by dilettantes and heartless manipulators, about music that takes up the energies, and the bodies, and the hearts, and the souls, and the time, and the minds of young men, who give what they have to it, and give everything they have to it. And it’s a term that’s based on contempt; it’s a term that’s based on fashion, style, elitism, Satanism and everything that’s rotten about rock ‘n’ roll. I don’t know Johnny Rotten, but I’m sure he puts as much blood and sweat into what he does as Sigmund Freud did.” —Iggy Pop, 1977
I was going to start this piece by warning that it has a sad ending. I would have explained that it’s the story of two of rock history’s most innovative, engaging and important groups; two groups that never set out to do anything else but voice their opinions and have fun in the process. It would go on to state that these two bands seemingly put their music ahead of all else, which would warrant the title of “true artists.” But I would again remind the readers that this story has a sad ending.
In fact, I wrote most of the article like that. Though I was coming from the right place, the result was boring and saccharine. I tried to be a “real writer” by being self-important, but when I read it back, this was extremely obvious. So I scrapped it all at the last minute.
I deeply revere all the artists that I cover for Hidden Gems, but I especially wanted to do a good job on this one. That’s because this story involves Black Flag and the Minutemen, two bands that had a disparate sound (even if it did branch from the same place), but shared similar ideals. Two bands that all together made up a ragtag bunch of goofy misfits—“fucking corndogs”—who shared a label, a van and the belief that anyone could and should brave the bullshit to express themselves. The music they made and the groundwork they laid is the reason why so many people of my generation have a venue to showcase their thoughts—be it bands, painters, filmmakers, or even schlubs like me who get to write about what they love. “Our band could be your life … ”