Flex Your Head

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Flex Your Head
2010 remastered LP edition cover
Front cover since 2010.
Compilation album by
various artists
ReleasedJanuary 1982
RecordedApril 1980 – December 1981
StudioInner Ear
Hit & Run
C.A.B.
GenreHardcore punk
Length41:49
LanguageEnglish
LabelDischord
ProducerSkip Groff
Chris Haskett
Ian MacKaye
Bert Queiroz
Lyle Preslar
Early cover art
First pressing cover.
First pressing cover.
Alternative cover
Second pressing cover.
Second pressing cover.
Alternative cover
1985 reissue cover.
1985 reissue cover.
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3/5 stars[1]

Flex Your Head is a sampler album featuring early hardcore punk bands from the Washington, D.C. area.[1] It was originally released in January 1982 on Dischord Records,[nb 1] with a pressing of 4,000 copies on vinyl record that sold out within one week;[2] an additional 3,000 copies were released shortly after. In 1982, a third pressing of 2,000 copies was released under license in the United Kingdom by Alternative Tentacles.[nb 2][3] Each of the first three pressings featured a different front cover.

Background[edit]

The compilation takes its title from the Minor Threat lyric shouted in the song "12XU", included on the album, originally by the English band Wire.

Dischord assembled Flex Your Head as a way to record the many punk bands that had started up, and sometimes also ceased, in the previous years in the D.C. area. The album served as either a debut or sophomore release for every band on it[1] except Minor Threat, for whom it was their third.

At the time of the album's release not only had most of the bands on it already have broken up, but many had gone on to start other bands, some of those bands also appear on the album. The Teen Idles had broken up in late 1980 and by the time of the release of Flex Your Head members had already started Minor Threat and Youth Brigade. The Untouchables broke up in 1981 and with the former members joining a multitude of bands including The Faith, The Warmers, Rites of Spring, One Last Wish, Skewbald, Happy Go Licky, Youth Brigade, and The Meatmen. State of Alert had also folded in early 1981 as singer Henry Garfield had joined Black Flag. Minor Threat had disbanded (although they would reunite a few months after the album's release) and since then Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson had founded Skewbald while Lyle Preslar joined an early version of Big Black. Youth Brigade and Red C both existed solely during 1981, and both Artificial Peace and Deadline would break up within a few months of the release of Flex Your Head, aside from Youth Brigade these band's only recorded output is on the compilation, though from those bands would come the longer lasting Beefeater, Marginal Man and Fugazi. Only Government Issue and Iron Cross would survive past the next year.

The songs "12XU" and "Steppin' Stone" were extremely popular covers in the D.C. punk scene. "Steppin' Stone", which was performed by State of Alert on this album, was also covered by Minor Threat on their second EP In My Eyes, while the song "12XU" was so commonly covered that several shows would have multiple bands playing their renditions.

Recording[edit]

Flex Your Head was recorded between April 1980 and December 1981.[1] The Teen Idles, Untouchables,[4] and Red C songs were recorded at Hit and Run Studios with engineer Steve Carr, Iron Cross' tracks were recorded at C.A.B. Studios with engineer Tom Scott, while all the other songs were recorded at Inner Ear Studios with engineer Don Zientara.[5]

Cover art[edit]

While the back cover of Flex Your Head has remained almost the same, its front cover has changed throughout the years.[5] When the album was first released, featured a stock photography of a painting of a violin, roses, and sheet music. The second pressing, released almost immediately, came with a stock image of stalks of wheat. A third early cover, designed by Jeff Nelson and used for the British pressing of the album, displayed a black and white version of the flag of Washington, D.C. with the stars replaced by Xs. Later, in 1985, the record was re-released with a new cover featuring a blurry photo of a man in a hat, which was used until 2008. The most recent version, a variation in red and white of the D.C. flag cover from 1982, came in 2010 on a remastered LP re-release.[5][6]

The CD editions of the album came with all versions of the front cover to be used interchangeably.

Critical reception[edit]

Justin M. Norton, contributor at the online magazine Stereogum, was of the view that:

"[Flex Your Head is] a Rosetta Stone not just for the DC scene but all of American hardcore ... Almost every niche of DC hardcore –- and a young performance from almost every crucial DC performer -- is covered in this must-own collection ... In addition to Bad Brains' debut, this is the jumping-off point for everything that followed..."[7]

Reissues[edit]

Flex Your Head was re-released on CD in August 1993.

A remastered CD version was released in 2002.

Track listing[edit]

Side A
No.TitleWriter(s)Contributing artistLength
1."I Drink Milk"Ian MacKaye; The Teen IdlesThe Teen Idles1:07
2."Commie Song"I. MacKaye; The Teen IdlesThe Teen Idles0:59
3."No Fun" (originally performed by The Stooges)Iggy Pop; Dave Alexander; Ron Asheton; Scott AshetonThe Teen Idles2:25
4."Rat Patrol"Alec MacKayeUntouchables0:59
5."Nic Fit"A. MacKayeUntouchables1:01
6."I Hate You"A. MacKayeUntouchables1:24
7."I Hate the Kids"Lyle Preslar; Henry GarfieldState of Alert0:39
8."Disease" (originally performed by UK Subs)Nicky Garratt; Charlie HarperState of Alert0:27
9."Steppin' Stone" (known by Paul Revere & the Raiders and The Monkees)Tommy Boyce; Bobby HartState of Alert1:56
10."Stand Up"I. MacKayeMinor Threat0:52
11."12XU" (originally performed by Wire)Bruce Gilbert; Graham Lewis; Colin Newman; Robert GotobedMinor Threat1:09
12."Hey, Ronnie"Brian GayGovernment Issue1:08
13."Lie, Cheat, and Steal"John Stabb SchroederGovernment Issue0:52
14."Moral Majority"Nathan StrejcekYouth Brigade1:06
15."Waste of Time"Bert Queiroz; Tom ClintonYouth Brigade0:51
16."Last Word"Strejcek; QueirozYouth Brigade1:23
Side B
No.TitleWriter(s)Contributing artistLength
1."Jimi 45"Eric Lagdameo; Peter Murray; Toni YoungRed C1:19
2."Pressure's On"MurrayRed C1:40
3."6 O'Clock News"Lagdameo; MurrayRed C2:03
4."Assassin"Lagdameo; Murray; YoungRed C0:56
5."Dehumanized"John WeiffenbachVoid1:15
6."Authority"Weiffenbach; Bubba DupreeVoid0:48
7."My Rules"Sean FinneganVoid0:59
8."War Games"Wendel BlowIron Cross1:22
9."New Breed"Sab Grey; Dante FerrandoIron Cross1:21
10."Live for Now"FerrandoIron Cross2:13
11."Artificial Peace"Steve PolcariArtificial Peace1:38
12."Outside Looking In"Polcari; Rob MossArtificial Peace0:58
13."Wasteland"PolcariArtificial Peace2:02
14."Stolen Youth"Ray Hare; Brendan CantyDeadline1:43
15."Hear the Cry"CantyDeadline1:02
16."Aftermath"Hare; CantyDeadline2:12
Total length:41:49

Personnel[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Dischord #DIS 7
  2. ^ Alternative Tentacles #VIRUS 22

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Curd, Zach. "Flex Your Head: AllMusic Review by Zach Curd". AllMusic. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  2. ^ Azerrad, Michael (Little, Brown and Company, 2001). Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Rock Underground 1981-1991. First e-book ed., 2012. Hachette. ISBN 9780316247184. pp. 340-341.
  3. ^ Azerrad, Michael (Little, Brown and Company, 2001). Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Rock Underground 1981-1991. First e-book ed., 2012. Hachette. ISBN 9780316247184. p. 376.
  4. ^ Blush, Steven (2001). American Hardcore: A Tribal History. Second ed., 2010. Feral House. ISBN 9781932595895. p. 164.
  5. ^ a b c Flex Your Head. Dischord Records. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  6. ^ Flex Your Head. Discogs. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  7. ^ Norton, Justin M. (October 17, 2012). "13 Essential DC Hardcore Albums: Various Artists - Flex Your Head (Dischord, 1982)". Stereogum. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  8. ^ "Dischord Records: Teen Idles". Dischord Records. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  9. ^ "Dischord Records: Untouchables". Dischord Records. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  10. ^ "Dischord Records: State Of Alert". Dischord Records. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  11. ^ "Dischord Records: Minor Threat". Dischord Records. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  12. ^ "Dischord Records: Government Issue". Dischord Records. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  13. ^ "Dischord Records: Youth Brigade". Dischord Records. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  14. ^ "Dischord Records: Red C". Dischord Records. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  15. ^ "Dischord Records: Void". Dischord Records. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  16. ^ "Dischord Records: Iron Cross". Dischord Records. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  17. ^ "Dischord Records: Artificial Peace". Dischord Records. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  18. ^ "Dischord Records: Deadline". Dischord Records. Retrieved 2015-07-14.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]