Thursday, December 31, 1981

My Personal Top 100 Songs (pre-1982)

Dave’s Faves:
My Top 100 Songs


I was 15 in the summer of 1982 and was pretty enthralled with the popular music of the day. When my local top 40 radio station did a countdown of their all-time songs, I decided to emulate the list and make my own. It turned into my own weekly countdown list which I maintained all through high school, college, and even into my young adult years. I consider it ground zero for my fascination with charts.

Here are my top 100 songs from before 1982. While this list was created many years later, it is designed to reflect my tastes at that time.

1. Styx “Babe” (1979)
2. Styx “Renegade” (1978)
3. Styx “The Best of Times” (1981)
4. Pink Floyd “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” (1979)
5. Olivia Newton-John “Magic” (1980)
6. Chic “Le Freak” (1978)
7. Journey “Open Arms” (1981)
8. Foreigner “Waiting for a Girl Like You” (1981)
9. Air Supply “Lost in Love” (1980)
10. Soft Cell “Tainted Love” (1981)

11. Styx “Come Sail Away” (1977)
12. Kenny Rogers “Coward of the County” (1979)
13. Blondie “Heart of Glass” (1978)
14. Neil Diamond “America” (1981)
15. Billy Joel “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” (1980)
16. John Williams “Star Wars” (1977)
17. The Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1963)
18. Debby Boone “You Light Up My Life” (1977)
19. Kermit “The Rainbow Connection” (1979)
20. REO Speedwagon “Keep on Loving You” (1980)

21. Barry Manilow “I Write the Songs” (1975)
22. Andrea McCardle “Tomorrow” (1977)
23. Eagles “Heartache Tonight” (1979)
24. Olivia Newton-John “Physical” (1981)
25. Little River Band “Lonesome Loser” (1979)
26. Kool & the Gang “Ladies Night” (1979)
27. Little River Band “Cool Change” (1979)
28. Billy Joel “Just the Way You Are” (1977)
29. Harry Chapin “Cat’s in the Cradle” (1974)
30. Climax Blues Band “I Love You” (1980)

31. Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” (1978)
32. Foreigner “Hot Blooded” (1978)
33. Supertramp “The Logical Song” (1979)
34. Blondie “Dreaming” (1979)
35. Eagles “I Can’t Tell You Why” (1979)
36. Queen “Another One Bites the Dust” (1980)
37. Rupert Holmes “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” (1979)
38. Air Supply “American Hearts” (1980)
39. Blondie “Call Me” (1980)
40. Kool & the Gang “Celebration” (1980)

41. Charlie Dore “Pilot of the Airwaves” (1979)
42. Kenny Rogers “Lady” (1980)
43. Foreigner “Juke Box Hero” (1981)
44. Journey “Who’s Crying Now” (1981)
45. Neil Diamond “Love on the Rocks” (1980)
46. Queen “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (1979)
47. Supertramp “Take the Long Way Home” (1979)
48. Foreigner “Double Vision” (1978)
49. Queen “We Will Rock You” (1977)
50. Queen “We Are the Champions” (1977)

51. Commodores “Three Times a Lady” (1978)
52. Electric Light Orchestra “Don’t Bring Me Down” (1979)
53. Sister Sledge “We Are Family” (1979)
54. Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive” (1978)
55. Nick Lowe “Cruel to Be Kind” (1979)
56. Sniff ‘N’ the Tears “Driver’s Seat” (1979)
57. Eddie Rabbitt “I Love a Rainy Night” (1980)
58. Dolly Parton “9 to 5” (1980)
59. Journey “Don’t Stop Believin’” (1981)
60. Kansas “Dust in the Wind” (1977)

61. Olivia Newton-John with Electric Light Orchestra “Xanada” (1980)
62. Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” (1977)
63. Charlie Daniels Band “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (1979)
64. Kansas “Carry on Wayward Son” (1976)
65. J. Geils Band “Centerfold” (1981)
66. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts “I Love Rock and Roll” (1981)
67. Lionel Richie & Diana Ross “Endless Love” (1981)
68. Kim Carnes “Bette Davis Eyes” (1981)
69. Styx “Too Much Time on My Hands” (1981)
70. Billy Joel “You May Be Right” (1980)

71. Dirt Band with Linda Ronstadt “An American Dream” (1979)
72. Paul McCartney & Wings “Silly Love Songs” (1976)
73. Barry Manilow “Copacabana (At the Copa)” (1978)
74. Village People “Y.M.C.A.” (1978)
75. Commodores “Still” (1979)
76. John Denver “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (1972)
77. The Beatles “All My Loving” (1963)
78. REO Speedwagon “Ridin’ the Storm Out (live)” (1977)
79. Rush “Tom Sawyer” (1981)
80. Blondie “Shayla” (1979)

81. Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band “Against the Wind” (1980)
82. Foreigner “Urgent” (1981)
83. The Cars “Shake It Up” (1981)
84. Eagles “Take It Easy” (1972)
85. Pratt & McClain “Happy Days” (1976)
86. Van McCoy “The Hustle” (1975)
87. Chicago “If You Leave Me Now” (1976)
88. John Denver “Rocky Mountain High” (1972)
89. Hues Corporation “Rock the Boat” (1974)
90. Stars on 45 “Medley I” (1981)

91. The Beatles “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” (1967)
92. Willie Nelson “On the Road Again” (1980)
93. The Human League “Don’t You Want Me?” (1981)
94. The Beatles “With a Little Help from My Friends” (1967)
95. KC & the Sunshine Band “Please Don’t Go” (1979)
96. Waylon Jennings “Just Good Ol’ Boys (Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard)” (1980)
97. John Denver “Sunshine on My Shoulders” (1971)
98. Paul McCartney & Wings “My Love” (1973)
99. Gerry Rafferty “Baker Street” (1978)
100. Rick Springfield “Jessie’s Girl” (1981)

Resources and Related Links:

Last updated 6/27/2022.

The Top 100 Classic Rock Songs, 1964-1981

Classic Rock:

Top 100 Songs, 1962-1981

This originated as a post on Dave’s Music Database Facebook page and was updated in April 2012 as a response to Ultimate Classic Rock’s Top 100 Classic Rock Songs list (which employed the maddening criteria that each act could only have one entry on the list). The DMDB list is the result of aggregating 71 best-of lists focused on classic rock songs. See the sources at the bottom of the page.

This list has also been published in the Dave’s Music Database book Charting the Classic Rock Hits 1962-1981, available at Amazon. It analyzes the aforementioned classic-rock best-of lists to gauge how classics like Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” might have fared had a classic rock chart existed then.

Click here to see other genre-specific song lists.

1. Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven” (1971)
2. Eagles “Hotel California” (1976)
3. Derek & The Dominos “Layla” (1971)
4. Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975)
5. Lynyrd Skynyrd “Free Bird” (1974)
6. The Rolling Stones “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (1965)
7. The Who “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (1971)
8. Aerosmith “Dream On” (1973)
9. Pink Floyd “Comfortably Numb” (1979)
10. Boston “More Than a Feeling” (1976)

11. Lynyrd Skynyrd “Sweet Home Alabama” (1974)
12. Deep Purple “Smoke on the Water” (1972)
13. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Purple Haze” (1967)
14. Pink Floyd “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” (1979)
15. The Who “Baba O’Riley” (1971)
16. Led Zeppelin “Whole Lotta Love” (1969)
17. Aerosmith “Sweet Emotion” (1975)
18. AC/DC “You Shook Me All Night Long” (1980)
19. Steppenwolf “Born to Be Wild” (1968)
20. Led Zeppelin “Kashmir” (1975)

21. John Lennon “Imagine” (1971)
22. The Doors “Light My Fire” (1967)
23. The Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” (1968)
24. Pink Floyd “Money” (1973)
25. Kansas “Carry on Wayward Son” (1976)
26. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “All Along the Watchtower” (1968)
27. Queen “We Will Rock You” / “We Are the Champions” (1977)
28. The Beatles “Hey Jude” (1968)
29. Bruce Springsteen “Born to Run” (1975)
30. Bob Dylan “Like a Rolling Stone” (1965)

31. AC/DC “Back in Black” (1980)
32. Blue Öyster Cult “Don’t Fear the Reaper” (1976)
33. Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here” (1975)
34. Pink Floyd “Time” (1973)
35. Led Zeppelin “Rock and Roll” (1972)
36. Free “All Right Now” (1970)
37. Led Zeppelin “Black Dog” (1971)
38. Dire Straits “Sultans of Swing” (1978)
39. Steppenwolf “Magic Carpet Ride” (1968)
40. Cream “Sunshine of Your Love” (1967)

41. Rush “Tom Sawyer” (1981)
42. Van Morrison “Brown-Eyed Girl” (1967)
43. Aerosmith “Walk This Way” (1976)
44. The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” (1969)
45. Rod Stewart “Maggie May” (1971)
46. Kiss “Rock and Roll All Nite” (live, 1975)
47. Fleetwood Mac “Go Your Own Way” (1976)
48. The Police “Roxanne” (1978)
49. Black Sabbath “Paranoid” (1970)
50. The Guess Who “American Woman” (1970)

51. Cream “White Room” (1968)
52. The Kinks “Lola” (1970)
53. Heart “Barracuda” (1977)
54. ZZ Top “La Grange” (1973)
55. The Who “My Generation” (1965)
56. The Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1969)
57. Eric Clapton “Cocaine” (1977)
58. Ozzy Osbourne “Crazy Train” (1980)
59. Steve Miller Band “The Joker” (1973)
60. The Beatles “Let It Be” (1970)

61. The Rolling Stones “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (1968)
62. Kansas “Dust in the Wind” (1977)
63. Journey “Don’t Stop Believin’” (1981)
64. Don McLean “American Pie” (1971)
65. The Beatles “Come Together” (1969)
66. Boston “Foreplay/Longtime” (1977)
67. The Beatles “A Day in the Life” (1967)
68. Buffalo Springfield “For What It’s Worth” (1967)
69. The Doors “L.A. Woman” (1971)
70. Led Zeppelin “Over the Hills and Far Away” (1973)

71. The Who “Behind Blue Eyes” (1971)
72. Golden Earring “Radar Love” (1973)
73. The Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Women” (1969)
74. The Rolling Stones “Brown Sugar” (1971)
75. David Bowie “Space Oddity” (1969)
76. The Animals “The House of the Rising Sun” (1964)
77. AC/DC “Highway to Hell” (1979)
78. Santana “Black Magic Woman” (1970)
79. The Rolling Stones “Paint It Black” (1966)
80. Yes “Roundabout” (1971)

81. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band “Blinded by the Light” (1976)
82. Thin Lizzy “The Boys Are Back in Town” (1976)
83. The Beatles “Revolution” (1968)
84. Led Zeppelin “Ramble On” (1969)
85. Bachman-Turner Overdrive “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” (1974)
86. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Hey Joe” (1966)
87. The Kinks “You Really Got Me” (1964)
88. Pink Floyd “Brain Damage/Eclipse” (1973)
89. Bad Company “Bad Company” (1974)
90. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “Foxey Lady” (1967)

91. Big Brother & The Holding Company “Piece of My Heart” (1968)
92. The Moody Blues “Nights in White Satin” (1967)
93. Joe Walsh “Rocky Mountain Way” (1973)
94. Foghat “Slow Ride” (1975)
95. Bad Company “Feel Like Making Love” (1975)
96. The Doors “Riders on the Storm” (1971)
97. Heart “Crazy on You” (1976)
98. The Who “Who Are You?” (1978)
99. Creedence Clearwater Revival “Fortunate Son” (1969)
100. The Rolling Stones “Start Me Up” (1981)

Resources/Related Links:

  • Dave’s Music Database: “Other Genre/Category Song Lists

  • Are You on Something “Classic Rock Top 500

    Date and method of list creation unknown. Looks more like an individual’s list with songs that aren’t typically defined as “classic rock,” such as the Stooges, Ramones, Velvet Underground, etc.

  • CFMI (2007). “500

    Broken link.

  • CHRX (Dec. 1993). “Classic 600

    Vancouver radio station countdown. Only top 14 listed.

  • CKKQ 100.3 (2005). “Top 500 Thanksgiving Weekend Countdown

    Only top 40 listed.

  • (2002). “Top 500 Rock and Roll Songs

    Broken link.

  • Classic Rock magazine (Sept./Oct. 1999). “Readers’ poll

    A list of the top 50 classic rock songs of all time.

  • Classic Rock magazine (March 2000). “10 Songs That Changed the Face of Rock

    List only.

  • Cranbrook 99.5 (2005). “Top 300

    Radio station list. Location of radio station and means of compiling list unknown. Only top 40 listed at link above.

  • Digital Dream Door (9/9/2005). “200 Greatest Rock Songs

    Details of how list was created are unknown. Has links to hear songs.

  • (2010). “VA – Top 1000 Classic Rock Songs of All Time

    Link appears dead now.

  • FIQL (1995). “Top 50 Classic Rock Songs of All Time

    According to Jacobs Media. Published in Classic Rock book. Assume that FIQL is a radio station that broadcast this list, but don’t know the origins of the list.

  • Guitar World (2000). “100 Greatest Solos of All-Time

    This list of the greatest rock guitar solos of all time was compiled by editors of Guitar World magazine. The list gives the song titles and featured guitarists for each. Very classic rock in nature so included here.

  • KCFX 101 The Fox, Kansas City (Jan. 2008). “Top 1001 Rock Songs

    As voted on by listeners. Link broken.

  • KISW FM 99.9, Seattle (1994). “Top 1000

    Don’t know how list was generated. Only top 40 listed at above link.

  • Steve Knight (5/31/2007). “The Top 25 Rock Songs of All-Time are…

    Looks like just another blogger’s opinions. Details are sketchy on his credentials and background, but it appears he was a former radio DJ. Brief commentaries. Appears to now be a dead link.

  • KYYS, Kansas City, MO.

    A best-of-all-time list from a classic rock station. Date unknown.

  • KZOK 102.5 “Top 1000 Classic Rock Songs

    Radio station countdown. Location of radio station, when list was done, and method for compiling list unknown.

  • Tim Morse (1998). Classic Rock Stories: The Stories Behind the Greatest Rock Songs of All Time. New York, NY: St. Martin's Griffin.

    Stories about 225 classic rock songs from the makers of the songs (singers, songwriters, musicians). Broken into categories in unranked format. Also includes a list of the top 25 classic rock albums.

  • Q104.3 New York (2007). “Top 1043 Songs of All Time

    Radio station countdown. Compiled from listeners’ votes.

  • Q107 (10/12/2009). “Top 500

    Radio station countdown determined by listeners’ votes. Radio station location unknown.

  • Radio Gold “Top 20 Classic Rock

    Origin and year of list unknown. Greek-based site.

  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame “Top 10 Songs

    Broken link. How list was created and when is unknown.

  • Rock Radio (11/23/2004). “Top 25 Songs of All Time

    Los Angeles-based (?) radio station. List determined by listeners’ votes.

  • (2000). “Top 100

    Lists of the 100 best rock songs and albums of all time, as polled from visitors to the site.

  • “Top 500 Rock and Roll Songs

    Don’t know details about creation or date of list. Has guitar tab links for songs. Annoying list to navigate with only ten songs per page.

  • “Top 100 Rock and Roll Songs

    Don’t know when list was created and site only says that this list was generated from readers’ responses to the “Top 500” list (above). List leans a little toward heavy metal.

  • Ultimate Classic Rock (6/20/2013). “Top 100 Classic Rock Songs

    Top 100 list with the annoying criteria that each act can only have one song on the list. Detailed commentary on each song. Link is actually to the DMDB’s blog post featuring a list of all the songs.

  • WNEW (1996). “Firecracker 500

First posted 4/9/2010; last updated 9/11/2023.

Saturday, December 26, 1981

Today in Music (1831): Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma first performed


Vincenzo Bellini (composer)

Composed: 1831

First Performed: December 26, 1831

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: classical > opera

Act I:

  1. Sinfonia
  2. "Svanir le voci!", recitative (Polio, Flavius)
  3. "Meco all'altar di Venere", cavatina (Pollio)
  4. "Me protegge me difende" (Pollio)
  5. "Norma viene", chorus
  6. "Sediziose voci", scene (Norma, Oroveso)
  7. "Casta diva", cavatina (chorus)
  8. "Fine al rito" (Norma)
  9. "Ah! bello a me ritorna" (Norma)
  10. "Sgombra e la sacra selva", scene (Adalgisa)
  11. "Eccola! Va, mi lascia", recitative (Pollio)
  12. "Va, crudele", duet (Adalgisa, Pollio)
  13. "Vanne, e li cela entrambi", recitative (Pollio)
  14. "Oh, Rimembranza!" (Norma)
  15. "Sola, furtiva al tempio"
  16. "Tremi tu? E per chi?... Oh, non tremare"
  17. "Oh! di qual sei tu vittima", trio (Norma, Adalgisa, Pollio)
  18. "Perfido!... Or basti"

Act II:

  1. "Dormono entrambi", introduction & scene
  2. "Me chiami, o Norma?", recitative
  3. "Mira, o Norma"
  4. "Cedi! Deh, cedi!"
  5. "Si, fino all'ore estreme"
  6. "Non parti!", Chorus
  7. "Guerrieri", recitative
  8. "Ah! del Tebro", aria with chorus
  9. "Ei tornera si", recitative
  10. "Guerra, guerra!", chorus
  11. "In mia man" duet
  12. "Ah! Crudele"
  13. "All'ira vostra"
  14. "Qual cor tradisti", Duet
  15. "Deh! Non volerli vittime"

Average Duration: 149:10


4.116 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Norma was the eighth opera for Romantic-era Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini “and the one that completely secured his fame and fortune as a composer.” JH The two-act tragedy premiered on December 26, 1831 at the opera house La Scala in Milan. It was conducted by the Italian conductor Alessandro Rolla. YP The “grand and exotic tale” JH is considered one of Bellini’s best operas and his personal favorite. According to musicographer David Ewen, Bellini said, “If I were shipwrecked at sea, I would leave all the rest of my operas and try to save Norma.” YP

The dramatic tragedy builds on previous literary works including the Greek myth of Medea, who fell in love with Jason of the Argonauts, and Les Martyrs, a 24-book novel by François René de Chateaubriand, in which a Druid priestess entices a Roman proconsul. YP There are also similarities to the 1820 opera La sacerdotessa d’Irminsul by Giovanni Pacini. JH

This was written during political upheaval in Europe. The story, set in 50 B.C. Gaul, focuses on the conflict “between the native Druids of Britain and the Roman soldiers who are occupying the country.” JH Act 1 establishes a love triangle in which Norma is the Druid priestess who secretly has two sons with Pollione, the Roman proconsul. However, he has tired of Norma and is now interested in Adalgisa, a younger, virgin priestess. When Norma finds out, she wants revenge. She decides to “rile her people to rebel against the Romans.” YP By the end, she has a change of heart and offers herself as a sacrifice and Pollione joins her.

“The music of Norma is laden with all of the conventions of Italian opera in the first half of the nineteenth century, including solo vocal arias and duets.” JH It “features Bellini’s signature long melodies” LA and “is defined by a highly expressive style of singing.” LA It features Casta Diva, which is considered “one of the all-time great soprano arias,” LA providing a defining role for operatic sopranos such as Maria Callas. LA

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 2/14/2011; last updated 12/24/2023.

Saturday, December 12, 1981

The Human League hit #1 in the UK with “Don’t You Want Me?”

Don’t You Want Me?

The Human League

Writer(s): Jo Callis/Philip Oakley/Philip Adrian Wright (see lyrics here)

Released: November 27, 1981

First Charted: December 5, 1981

Peak: 13 US, 14 CB, 42 HR, 3 GR, 3 RR, 4 AR, 1 CO, 15 UK, 11 CN, 4 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.78 UK, 2.93 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 90.0 video, 245.46 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

When recording parent album Dare!, the Human League considered their adherence to a “strict policy of synth-only sounds” LW to be very cutting edge and a much needed break from the “archaic and antique” use of guitars. SF The song, “Don’t You Want Me?,” provided a synthesizer riff as memorable as any guitar lick, TB quieting critics who condemned the instrumental tool as bland. MJ Marc Almond of Soft Cell went so far as to call the song “the greatest record of all time.” KL He wasn’t alone in his love for the song; it moved over 1.4 million copies in the UK to become the biggest seller of 1981. SF

In the US, the song was the first English synthesizer chart-topper, FB effectively launching a second British invasion, the first being helmed by the Beatles in 1964. KL That second influx of British music owed much to the launch of MTV. UK bands comprised a large chunk of the fledging music channel’s initial library, thanks to a prevalence of video shows in Europe. SF While the Human League were frequently lumped in with British New Romantic acts KL like Duran Duran, Culture Club, and Adam Ant, they really had more of a post-punk energy and were more likely to use Kraftwerk as a musical reference point. LW

The song sports a “consciously cheesy boy-girl duologue” MJ between Phil Oakley and the two female singers. That and his “emotion-free style of his singing” LW alongside a funky melodic bass line made the song a classic. LW

Oakley has stated that an article in a woman’s magazine inspired the song SF and that it is “not a love song but about power politics between two people.” SF Interestingly, Oakley had decided that the group needed women who could dance and sing backup vocals FB and so, as suggested in the song, he found them in a cocktail bar and “turned them into something new.” LW Apparently their look took precedence over all else since the pair could neither sing nor dance. TC


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Human League
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 556.
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 627.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 276.
  • LW Lewens, Alan (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 151.
  • MJ Mojo Ultimate Jukebox (supplement with April 2003 issue of Mojo magazine). “The 100 Singles You Must Own”
  • SF
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 193.

Related Links:

First posted 12/12/2011; last updated 11/22/2022.

Saturday, December 5, 1981

Black Flag Damaged released


Black Flag

Released: December 5, 1981

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: punk rock


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to charts.

  1. Rise Above
  2. Spray Paint
  3. Six Pack
  4. What I See
  5. TV Party (7/82, --)
  6. Thirsty and Miserable
  7. Police Story
  8. Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie
  9. Depression
  10. Room 13
  11. Damaged II
  12. No More
  13. Padded Cell
  14. Life of Pain
  15. Damaged I

Total Running Time: 34:58

The Players:

  • Henry Rollins (vocals)
  • Greg Ginn (guitar)
  • Dez Cadena (rhythm guitar)
  • Chuck Dukowski (bass, backing vocals)
  • Robo (drums, backing vocals)


4.093 out of 5.00 (average of 16 ratings)


“Perhaps the best album to emerge from the quagmire that was early-‘80s California hardcore punk.” – John Dougan, All Music Guide


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Perhaps the best album to emerge from the quagmire that was early-‘80s California hardcore punk, the visceral, intensely physical presence of Damaged has yet to be equaled, although many bands have tried…Black Flag had been recording for three years prior to this release,” JD including “at least two aborted attempts to record a full-length album since the release of their first EP Nervous Breakdown, with singers Keith Morris, Ron Reyes, and Dez Cadena.” WK Things weren’t working in the vocal department until “20-year-old Washington, DC expatriate Henry Rollins…[became] the band’s new lead singer weeks before the sessions occurred. Unlike Reyes, who had never sung in a studio before and Cadena, who hadn’t even sung before joining the band, Rollins already had one recording credit to his name with the short-lived DC hardcore punk band State of Alert, who recorded No Policy, an EP released earlier in the year on Dischord Records.” WK

“The fact that Henry Rollins was now their lead singer made all the difference. His furious bellow and barely contained ferocity was the missing piece the band needed to become great.” JD With his “venom-dripping vocals leading the way, the album features such hostile teeth-gnashers as Rise Above (‘Try to stop us/It’s no use’), Six Pack (‘I got a six pack, and nothing to do’), and, of course, Life of Pain.” BA

“Also, guitarist/ mastermind Greg Ginn wrote a slew of great songs for this record that, while suffused with the usual punk conceits (alienation, boredom, disenfranchisement), were capable of making one laugh out loud, especially the protoslacker satire TV Party.” JD

“The closing track, Damaged I, is technically Rollins’ first writing credit with the band. In his book Get in the Van, Rollins reports that he used to improvise the lyrics every night when the song was performed live.” WK

“Extremely controversial when it was released, Damaged endured the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism.” JD “Some reacted as though this record alone would cause the fall of America’s youth;” JD prior to its release, “MCA Records president Al Bergamo listened to the album and claimed that the record was ‘anti-parent’…As a result, MCA refused to distribute the already-pressed-and-packaged album.” WK “stating that Black Flag was ‘immoral’ and lacking ‘redeeming social value.’” BA

“When the album finally came out on Ginn’s own SST label, it was clear why MCA recoiled, as Black Flag’s skinhead look and hardcore sound signaled a new chapter in punk – and rock in general.” BA

“The album cover, shot by punk photographer Ed Colver, features Rollins putting his fist through a mirror. The effect was made by cracking the mirror with a hammer, while the ‘blood’ on Rollins’ wrist is a mixture of red ink and coffee. The photograph has been described as ‘iconic’ in the pages of Artforum.” WK

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 3/28/2011; last updated 11/30/2022.