Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie

Reinterpreting Black Flag

Written by: PP on 29/05/2010 18:19:12

Instead of revising to my four exams coming up next week, I've been spending time with "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie: Reinterpreting Black Flag", an intriguing release which sees former Black Flag members get together with some friends and completely turn old Black Flag classics upside down. At the core of each song, you can still recognize the seminal lyrics and chorus of the gang-shouted cut like "Rise Above", but on this record each track has been completely re-arranged and reinterpreted to give the songs a 50s and 60s rock'n'roll sound, with nuances of classic pop and country in the mix as well. Think Johnny Cash and Brenda Lee, and before you ask, yeah, I'm serious.

According to the words of producer Evan Taylor, the goal of the record has been to appeal to a cross-over audience, "offering Black Flag fans new takes on their favorite songs while also giving an introduction to those with other tastes". Listening to "Nervous Breakdown", for instance, which sounds like it came straight from the 50s complete with classic female vocals from former bassist Kira Roessler, I can only concur with Taylor. It may be utterly strange at first to hear Black Flag's seminal hardcore tracks changed this radically, but soon you realize how good the original songs must be when they can be re-arranged so liberally without losing the core melody and the message of the songs. So while the early classic will appeal to the fans of the original Black Flag sound, it's also a song that you could play to your non-musically oriented parents during a dinner party without any objections. And what about "Thirsty And Miserable" that now sounds like authentic 60s 'jailhouse rock'? The record also contains a cover of Jimmie Rodgers' "In The Jailhouse" now, featuring Keith Morris on vocals together with Peter Case, but it's a track that could've been left off in my opinion and replaced with another Black Flag track.

In total, four tracks from "Damaged" and the title track from "Nervous Breakdown" make an appearance on this release, and they all belong to the classics category within the Black Flag back catalogue. They're all interesting renditions in their own right, but the question that needs to be asked is does anyone really want to listen to softened versions of the iconic tracks instead of the originals? Specially when The Dirty Projectors just did essentially the same thing a couple of years back? I think it comes down to the individual listener. Old school Flag fans may find this release merely interesting (since it doesn't feature Henry Rollins), and newer fans may be more inclined to avoid a non-hardcore release like this altogether. Decide for yourself, here's my opinion:


Download: Rise Above, Six Pack
For the fans of: Black Flag, The Dirty Projectors, 50s and 60s pop/rock
Listen: Myspace

Release date 27.04.2010
Secret Of Life Records

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