There’s something about a Greg Ginn guitar solo.
The Black Flag driving force and mainman tore up the rule book with his guitar and his lead breaks are like nothing else. The early eighties LA based hardcore band already had a distinctive sound with Ginn’s dominating sludge rhythm guitar work dominating the songs but when he pealed off for a solo the effect is mesmerising.
Where most guitar solos are basically the guitar player wanking off or the point of the song that needs filling, Ginn cranked the volume and the glorious head fuck of the rush of electricity. Somehow he made the guitar sound like it was going backwards, the breaks are a flurry of totally unexpected notes that follow no pattern or rules and take you on an intense and weird trip.
They are like free jazz, the Greatful Dead, Black Sabbath, psychedelia and a whole host of off the wall influences cranked through the stripped down, aggressive rush of punk whilst inventing hardcore and creating a template for post hardcore- ask Thurston Moore- the true inheritor of the Ginn guitar mangle who even stands on stage and plays in the same shapes as Ginn.
You can like Black Flag for a lot of things- the pure aggression, the funny and dark songs, the dark humour of the sleeves drawn by Greg Ginn’s brother, their pile driving aesthetic, their inventiveness and their total lack of compromise but it’s the point in the song when Gregg Ginn just goes off one one when it all comes home to a point of pure genius. Those sick, note splurges, the amazing, dissonant against-the-notes lead stuff that he does mark him out as one of the great guitarists and that’s not even counting his knack for the creating the great riffs that are the chassis of the Black Flag songs.
His work aesthetic was legendary, driving the band through six hour rehearsals and endless tours and its this passion and intensity that you can feel in the music that make Black Flag one of the key bands of the period. It’s this total comitment and beligenert genius that gives his music its pure genius.