"what ALWAYS seperated BF from ANY of their contemporaries was their lack of concern, regard for or respect of rules. this album disappointed their "punk rock" audience (and apparently a few narrow-minded reviewers here) and that's exactly what i love about it. they didn't give a made f*ck about anything other than taking it out as a far as they possibly could. this album demonstrates their TRUE punk rock attitude and unparalleled hard work ethic. they were slaves to their art and, unlike 99% of their companions of the period, not so easily forgotten. experimental, raw, improvisational... FAMILY MAN gives you something your lame EXPLOITED albums never could... the balls and ability to leave their audience scratching their head."
Still ahead of its time.
matt bobby | 07/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You gotta admire Black Flag, they were brave. In the height of their popularity as a loud, hardcore punk band, they decided to completely change gears, weather the fans liked or not.
Ginn, Rollins, and crew got experimental on Family Man, each in their own way. Henry takes up the first half of the album doing spoken word monologues. Greg and the band do instrumentals on the other half.Rollins' monologues are truly intense. Their subjects reflect highly desturbed, but exceedingly fascinating, thoughts, such as rape, insanity, suicide, and torturing slugs. His first monologue, which is also the album's title track, is a grimly funny social commentary on suburban life ("Family man... with your glances my way, taking no chances on the new day. Family man... with your sandcastle built, smiling through your guilt.") Henry's voice is perfect throughout his tracks: low, menacing, intense, and surprisingly genuine. And that's what makes the monologues so captivating. "Salt on a Slug" is great because you can feel Rollins' joy as he describes his sadistic act. Henry's sense of hopelessness on "No deposit- No Return" is perfect. His barely checked rage on "Let your fingers do the Walking" keeps that track fresh after countless listens.The instrumentals are just as great. For the first time, Greg Ginn flexes his guitar muscles, playing solos and very lyrical guitar. But that's not what makes the instrumentals so enjoyable. It's the intensity, the amazing connection between Greg, Kira, and Bill that makes them such a great listen. Take, for example, the instrumental "I Won't Stick Any Of You Unless I Can Stick All Of You!" It starts off fairly by-the-numbers, with good riffs from Greg and Kira, and nice drumming from Bill. But then, about a minute into it, the drums kick into overdrive, and Greg really gets into what he's playing. If you close your eyes, you can almost see his fingers flying accross the fret board, so fast that they blur. That, my friends, is the sound of pure passion. The instrumentals sound very Velvet Underground-ish, very fast and genre bending. "Long Lost Dog Of It" sounds very jazzy. "Account For What?" is fast and punky. "The Pups Are Doggin' It" has a definate heavy metal feel.The creativity, the intensity, the refusal to succumb to fans, these are the things that put Family Man years ahead of it's time.And by the way, great cover art."
I've talked dirt before. . .it never sounded quite like this
(4 out of 5 stars)
""I come to infect, I come to rape your woman, I come to take your children into the streets. . .I come for YOU, family man."
Black Flag was a busy band in 1984. They had been put on hold for years because of a tedious legal battle spawned by the controversial release of "Damaged," and could not release any music that used the name Black Flag or their famous four-bar logo. Because of this time off, the difference between "Damaged" and the albums that were released in 1984 may be a bit jarring for listeners. There was no transition to the almost-metal hardcore found on the latter releases.
After the smoke of the jarring transition clears, what is left is some really amazing music. Like "My War" and "Damaged" before it, "Family Man" is very much divided into two sides. "Damaged" side one is chant-along anthems, where side two is dark, angry, frustrated, and unrelenting. "My War" has a similar breakdown, where side one is shorter, more standard songs, and side two is made up of only three songs. Nightmarishly slow, emotive, and expressive, side two polarized many Black Flag fans; what was the band who invented hardcore doing to the genre? It sounded like reinvention.
"Family Man" is even more polarizing. Side one is completely made up of spoken word performances by Henry Rollins; audiences are forced to face the deepest insides of Rollins' psyche through a series of poems and readings that range from black humor (Salt On A Slug) to diary-like mumblings (No Deposit-No Return). Side two is almost completely instrumental, featuring great musicianship by the guitar-god Greg Ginn, the spastic Bill Stevenson (also of the Descendents) and new-comer Kira Roessler on bass. All three muisicians shine amazingly in the quirkily-titled tracks. Each song begins with the band performing the "head" (a la jazz performers) then carrying the listener through a series of variations, each becoming more and more spastic and wild.
The one track to feature vocals and music becomes the centerpiece for the album, and that is Armageddon Man. The format musically is the same as the other tracks on side two, but amidst the insanity is Henry Rollins' almost stream of consciousness ramblings. In the same way the band will repeat an idea and vary it, Rollins will make a statement and then "jam" on it for a bit. For example, "dirt getting stuck in my mouth, dirt getting stuck in my eyes, seeing everything through dirt, all I see is dirt, all I know is dirt, just talking dirt, talking dirt, digging dirt, loving dirt, rolling in dirt, dirt river, dirt sliver, dirt lover, dirt undercover, dirt overcover. . ." He is using his words to express what is happening musically, and the band responds in kind. Many times, it's not sure if Stevenson is following Ginn's lead, or Rollins'.
"Family Man" is a huge artistic statement that was a huge risk to release to single-minded punk fans, but has stood the test of time. A dark journey to take, but a rewarding and cathartic one nontheless."
matt bobby | 03/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"punk rockers will absolutly hate this, but open minded music freaks will love this. the spoken word stuff is unbeliveably intense, from "rattus norvegicus", "no deposit, no return" and the monster epic "amageddon man". raw is the best word to describe this simply because it sounds so in the moment.and the intrumental stuff is out of this world.its wild, unpredictable, and very direct at the same time.oh, and one more thing.if you at all know what its like to feel alienated,angry and depressed,you should relate to "armageddon man".if not, you probably wont like this album."
The album that broke the "punk" barrier.
Mattowarrior | Madison, WI United States | 11/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1982-1984 Black Flag would begin to make several very controversial moves. One would be growing their hair long, as it was a reaction to the dogmas of punk as much as confessions for their love of 70's hard rock and metal. Another was to incorporate a very "metal" and jazz influence into their music. Yet another was this controversial release, Family Man. Family Man is a weird album, made up of half Henry Rollins' spoken word/whacked out beatnik "poems", the other half Flag instrumentals. I found the instrumental portion to be far better than their "Process of Weeding Out" ep, and the poems are good- even if they're all very twisted (like for example "Salt on a Slug"). Both approaches meet in the middle with "Armageddon Man" which is both Rollins' spoken word with Flags music. An interesting concept, if not always a great album. Definitely P--ed off some punkers at the time, if not now. Buy it."