NPR logo Black Flag Re-Imagined from Memory


Black Flag Re-Imagined from Memory

Yale dropout Dave Longstreth is no stranger to the concept album. In 2005, as the "Dirty Projectors," he released a critically lauded album, The Getty Address, based around the imaginary story of musician Don Henley. This year, he released Rise Above, an album of Black Flag songs as re-imagined from memory. According to Dave, the project started when he stumbled across the empty cassette case to the seminal punk album, Damaged while doing some spring cleaning.

The Projectors performed "Rise Above" from the new record for us in studio last week:



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I love amber coffman!

Sent by secret admirer | 3:22 PM | 12-10-2007

Beautiful! This was my favorite record of the year.

Sent by Rickles | 3:36 PM | 12-10-2007

Great sound!!

Sent by Warren | 3:39 PM | 12-10-2007

I know who you are, secret admirer!

Sent by slightly more secret admirer | 4:09 PM | 12-10-2007

I love Angel Deradoorian!

Sent by not so secret admirer | 4:48 PM | 12-10-2007

This is complete trash

Sent by Frankfurter | 7:34 PM | 12-10-2007

I hope Henry Rollins punches you in the middle of a potato sack race.

Sent by Jeep Brah | 7:57 PM | 12-10-2007

favourite song of the year!

Sent by ingebling | 8:31 PM | 12-10-2007

this was a very unfortunate find. i agree with "jeep brah," especially because of the whole random "potato sack race" part.Is that Mike Duffy in the middle??

Sent by Jim McDonnell | 8:42 PM | 12-10-2007

i agree with frankfuter.

Sent by worstbandever | 11:07 PM | 12-10-2007

This song blows me away, every listen. Thanks Dave and to your little birdies that give you a cage to express in.

Sent by Brett San Fran | 1:39 AM | 12-11-2007

Where do you find this garbage?! Please, please, please don't let any more musicians on. You guys don't have a good track record.

Sent by Jason | 7:52 AM | 12-11-2007

My heart goes out to the Alison and Luke for sitting patiently through the Dirty Projectors performance. That band is horrible!

Sent by Miears R. Bleeding | 8:00 AM | 12-11-2007

wonderful, intimate. great band, and awesome live.

Sent by the pail | 1:24 PM | 12-11-2007

I cannot understand what real relevance this band's record has to do with Black Flag's Damaged.

I appreciate the right the Dirty Projectors have to describe the album whatever way they like -- but I am more inclined to just be insulted by the reference because I like Black Flag's art much, much, much more.

Sent by BlueUrchin | 3:01 PM | 12-11-2007

Wow......I'm 34 and suddenly I feel all of my 16yo angst back in force. HORRIBLE, I hate you Crappy Projectors! You take a classic and emulate it such a way that not even my mother could stomach your sugar-coated ethereal trash sound.

Sent by PDX | 3:52 PM | 12-11-2007

Actually, as someone who was in junior high when DAMAGED first came out and was heavily in its thrall at a tender age, I have to say that part of what I'm loving about this version of it is how much it's annoying all of the hidebound old fogies who think it's sacrilege to rework a classic old album like this. Can't get much more punk than that!

Love the Philip Glass effect on the backing vocals, too.

Sent by Stewart | 5:00 PM | 12-11-2007

This song is awesome, you haters have no idea what your talking about, and seem to misinterpret what they are doing.

Sent by claytown | 5:27 PM | 12-11-2007

God, this isn't good or funny. Why is NPR wasting thier time on drivle like this

Sent by TVParty | 8:57 PM | 12-11-2007

given the lyrical content of this song, the majority of the negative comments are pretty hilarious.

Sent by jj | 12:47 AM | 12-12-2007

most moving song of 2007, incredible "reimagining" of a classic Black Flag track, killer vocals all around, A+!

Sent by jts | 10:35 AM | 12-15-2007

Do not ever play this shizz on air again. I was so embarrassed at work I had to turn your show off. That goes for Celine Dion also.

Sent by Dave | 4:33 PM | 12-15-2007

wow. if you're calling this music trash, horrible or some such, you must have a very narrow aesthetic sense. simply because something does not sound akin to the recent pop 40 hits is no reason to write it off. Dave has an immense talent that requires a subtle ear and open mind to fully appreciate. try to pay attention to the guitar work here with its African (ali farka) influence and complex chord structure. also the free yet precise melody captured by all of the vocalists. we need more musical exploration like this and less of the fast food tunes that are ruining the American ear.

Sent by zizza_thustra | 3:02 AM | 12-16-2007

Thank you thank you thank you NPR! My new favorite track off the album.

Sent by LongstrethIsGod | 6:24 AM | 12-16-2007

album of the year, easy

Sent by Mr. T | 5:54 PM | 12-16-2007

as a 41 year old man who spent the entirety of his teenage years seeing bands like black flag, minor threat and misfits et al - not to mention being one who survived the moshpits and the fights and getting harassed by cops, teachers, jocks and metalheads for being punk - i am thrilled that bands like flag continue to amount praise from the younger generation. they were most important and if it weren't for them, modern music would be very different.

i 'get' what this is and i dig the idea of subverting the subversion. problem is, the dirty projectors are a bit too precious and take themselves a bit too seriously. to me, it sounds as if they are pushing the irony factor for their own credibility and i found the results contrived, over baring and geared toward the ipods of modern day middle class hipsters everywhere.

that being said, folks, don't take it too seriously. it's a ploy to sell you product and if anything, the dirty projectors are interlopers who have used flag's enigmatic reputation to further their own over-rated career in music. flag remain eternal even if greg ginn's done nothing with the legacy.

now THAT'S subversive!

Sent by Bryan Swirsky | 9:55 PM | 12-16-2007

I really don't understand why people need to chime in so negatively. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I subscribe to the "if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all" philosophy. Seriously think about it. Silence speaks volumes. Plus these people are just making music they like, and their process of making it hopefully gives them joy and happiness. Some people are going to like them and others are not. Why put more negative energy in this world. There is already enough. Maybe the haters are just bummed that they aren't musicians, and aren't successful musicians, and see a band who is living out their dreams, and being appreciated by it. "Rise above" the "jelous cowards!"

Sent by Rob | 3:45 PM | 12-21-2007

to Bryan Swirsky,

i can see how some indie groups like the decemberists might be ironic, but the dirty projectors are certainly not. i don't really think the avante garde should be taken as an exercise in irony.

also, are they really subverting Rise Above itself? I thought of it more as translating black flag into the sound of a contemporary yet similarly subversive movement. i find it beautiful to see how much they share a subversive spirit despite being nearly 30 years apart.

Lastly, they're not selling by any means. Black Flag's album was far more commercially successful. DP are shamefully under-rated precisely because they make their music in good faith. I mean, a lot of their best work is out of print.

Sent by zizza-thrustra | 7:58 PM | 12-23-2007

Love that the DPs can pull off a genius performance with either full band or just voices and a guitar. Amazing arrangements. Go see them live and stop worrying about whether this music sounds prettier than Black Flag.

Sent by Safetybear | 4:52 PM | 12-31-2007

"I have to say that part of what I'm loving about this version of it is how much it's annoying all of the hidebound old fogies who think it's sacrilege to rework a classic old album like this. Can't get much more punk than that!" - Exactly: it's hilarious seeing the preciousness of the furious hardcore scenesters (young fogies as well as old fogies) sputtering with rage that their ancient sacred totem has been tampered with - get over it! Dirty Projectors are a must-see live, by the way, even if you're not into the idea behind the album.

Sent by Richie | 4:51 PM | 1-3-2008

Love how punx are so conservative at heart!

Sent by ian | 4:55 PM | 1-3-2008

wow, did someone make a Mike Duffy reference on this page! How high are the snow drifts? But this is amazing, for the record.

Sent by brones brigade | 8:29 PM | 1-3-2008

I am a 6435 year old man, and believe me, I have heard a LOT of records. Man, I had to listen to ALL of Moses' solo projects...ugh. Anyway, this here Dirty Projectors is easily one of the best album of 2007. Live its like seeing spirits lift into heaven. Check em out if you have the time.

Sent by Sir James Winnie | 8:16 AM | 1-4-2008

dave never say shizz again....I was so embarressed......

Sent by Scott | 8:17 PM | 1-10-2008


Sent by Ben | 1:04 AM | 1-11-2008

Uh...where is the anger?

Sent by Hank | 7:04 PM | 1-16-2008

hah! was black flag about sticking it to the man? what's this about? sticking it to the man? yes. turns out a lot of you old timers forgot know.

although harmonically it's much different, the soul of the two pieces are the same. and you squares proved it! they stuck it to you! keep an open mind, losers.

Sent by ian | 5:47 PM | 1-29-2008

If I'd known you didn't need any rhythm to be on the radio....

Sent by sasha | 9:03 AM | 2-5-2008

this band blows my mind everytime. BLOWS IT. Longstreth has bigger balls and is more punk than any psuedo post punk krautrock bands outthere right now. the real deal, me exclaims.

Sent by Jazz Money | 12:15 AM | 2-6-2008

this is a perfect ruin of a black flag song

Sent by Search and Destroy | 11:49 AM | 2-8-2008

What most of you don't understand is that Dave was "inspired by" Black Flag. These aren't covers. SO get over it.
Rise Above is one of the most honest records of 2007. Truely one of my favorites. I have seen them 4 times live and am completely in love with them. David isn't making money on this, not yet...

Sent by Alan Kenwood | 4:04 PM | 2-11-2008

oh yes, that's right, "Dirty" Projectors are the anti Black Flag. they're total merched out do-gooders who are workin' reeeel hard to make it big. "oh, i found my old empty Black Flag cassette whilst spring cleaning", ha ha, good one, loser! this is the exact opposite of punk, it's musac and delivers absolutely no message except defiling the ones they're so artfully stealing from Black Flag. "oh but wrap your head around this, dude, they're not COVERING the songs, they're just using them for INSPIRATION". WOW, now i get it! what a joke! well, at least call it what it is, merched out music for old folks and kids. enjoy, suckers!

Sent by cronan | 8:25 PM | 4-1-2008

to the haters: you are an entitled breed of conservatives who bought into the punk aesthetic having no genuine clue as to the material substance spurring it. So, yes, I am not surprised by your comments. True punk brings, in full force, something forgotten yet burning in people, something gestating in humans...and this is apart from DPs inventive musical compositions that echo the same.

Sent by Oedipa's Mass | 3:18 PM | 4-2-2008