Black Flag – Nervous Breakdown 7″ EP

This debut release from the pioneers of hardcore punk is practically the blueprint for the band’s entire career – and a rare, valuable find.

When it comes to hardcore punk, few bands have a legacy quite like Black Flag. Bursting out of the California scene in the late 70s, the band channelled the angst and bitterness of American youth culture to become one of the most important acts in the history of punk; iconic and unmatched.

Their debut 7″, Nervous Breakdown, was the first release on Greg Ginn’s newly founded label, SST Records, and featured the only appearance by ferocious vocalist Keith Morris. The artwork was put together by Raymond Pettibon, who would go on to be a long-time collaborator with Black Flag and SST, and the first pressing captures them in the days before their trademark ‘bars’ logo.

The four tracks on the EP essentially set the tone for Black Flag’s career. The title track and Fix Me are frenetic slabs of hardcore, with Morris’ self loathing and negativity at the forefront of the narrative. Nervous Breakdown led to the band being known as ‘The Godfathers of Hardcore’.

Only 2,000 initial copies of Nervous Breakdown were pressed, and sold out in just over a year. It has been reissued numerous times, with notable updates to the artwork, but finding an original in decent condition is nigh-on impossible. On average, it will set you back nearly £800 for a mint copy, but when original bassist Chuck Dukowski managed to sell his own sealed copy for more than £3,000, you can be sure it’s only going to increase in both historical and monetary value.

Glen Bushell