Black Flag ⋮ Nervous Breakdown


Black Flag ⋮ Nervous Breakdown
SST Records #SST-001 1978

SST Records ad for the Nervous Breakdown EP

The recording was financed by Greg Ginn with proceeds he had earned from his mail-order ham radio electronics business, Solid State Tuners (SST). Through Spot, then an apprentice engineer whom Ginn had already known from living in Hermosa Beach, California, the band found Media Art, a studio that had recently completed construction.
The recording was originally supposed to be released through Bomp! Records, but the band felt that the label was taking too long to put the record out. Eventually the band took the master rights back, and Ginn put some more earnings from his ham radio business, located a pressing plant in the phone book, and co-founded SST Records with Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski, borrowing the label’s name from his business.
It is commonly misconstrued that Spot was the producer and engineer of Nervous Breakdown. In his sleeve notes for the 1982 outtakes anthology Everything Went Black, Spot pointed out that as an apprentice engineer, his involvement in the sessions was limited to setting up microphones during the tracking sessions, and doing rough mixes for the band to hear.
The initial pressing of Nervous Breakdown was 2,000 copies. Black Flag were able to use the record as “a badge of legitimacy” (according to Dukowski) to begin getting live gigs in the Los Angeles area. (Source: Wikipedia)

Four other songs were completed during the recording, “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie”, “I Don’t Care”, “White Minority” and “No Values”, which were later released as part of the Everything Went Black compilation album.

Track listing
Side A
1. Nervous Breakdown 2:07

Side B
1. Fix Me 0:55
2. I’ve Had It 1:20
3. Wasted 0:51

Band on this recording:
Keith Morris – vocals
Greg Ginn – guitar
Gary McDaniel – bass guitar
Brian Migdol – drums

Production
Black Flag – producers
David Tarling – recording engineer
Spot – recording engineer, mix engineer
Raymond Pettibon – artwork

Pressing Info
Since my last blog, which contained the Nervous Breakdown entry, disappeared several years ago, I’ve had to re-create the entire pressing info for this release. As I was searching the net for some extra bits and pieces of any new information that may have surfaced in the last 4 years I came across the Hanson Meyer’s blog here which blew my mind. Hanson did an amazing job researching the release’s history. I obviously couldn’t do better than him so I straight up lifted LARGE parts of the pressing information off his site, which you should refer to as well. I added a few little bits, I think I found one more red cover version than what he has and he got his hands on 3 extra blue ones that I missed. I think when put together this will make for a comprehensive and hopefully useful piece of information.

As far as the chronology goes, the first three pressings, it’s safe to say, are chronologically confirmed. The chronology of the rest is based purely on a bit of common sense and my (rather poor) deduction skills, therefore from the 4th onwards, despite the fact that I will use the term “4th pressing” or “9th pressing” it doesn’t mean it actually is the 4th or 9th pressing. It just as well could be, but in reality, all it means it’s just another version I found which differs from the rest that I saw fit to place in that particular place in line. There may just as well have been 3 or 4 or more separate presses which are identical to one another in every possible way. These will not be reflected below since there are no sufficient records available.

 

1st pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 1st pressing, 1979

SST Music © 1978
Recorded at Media Art Studio, Hermosa Beach, California, January 1978
2000 copies pressed sometime early in February 1979 (based on the Greg Ginn’s statement in Spray Paint The Walls: “We pressed up 2,000 copies for $1,000”)
According to Hanson’s research the release date has been deduced through combining the facts from two sources:
1. Greg Ginn stating in his Outcry Magazine interview on the 25th of September 1980 that Black Flag (then Panic) recorded the EP in January 1978 and the EP was then “released over a year later” meaning that the record was released after January 1979.
2. The flyer for Black Flag show on the 17th of February 1979 which contains a mail order advertisement showing the EP was available from SST Records at that time. You can see it here. The flyer would have been made presumably at least several days before the show. Therefore, assuming of course that the record was actually pressed by then, not about to be pressed or someday to be pressed, as it’s often the case with small labels, the Nervous Breakdown EP would have been released sometime between the end of January and 15th of February 1979. All copies of the 1st pressing of Nervous Breakdown were distributed prior to the summer of 1980.

The 1st press is the only version which features what came to be known as the “brick background” with Raymond Pettibon’s artwork over it. Covers were printed on a semi-gloss, medium weight paper and unlike all of the subsequent pressings that were glued into pockets, these were folded along the bottom edge and packed in the poly bags with a flap folded over the top and sealed with a small SST sticker on the back. Unfortunately my copy is missing the original polybag/sticker so I couldn’t scan it but you can see what it looked like here. The original pressing credited Gary McDaniel (Chuck’s real name) on bass and Robo on drums. Brian Migdol was the actual drummer that played on this EP.

The early versions of the labels (including this one) use the more rounded font (aka the “bubble font”) which is especially apparent when you look at the word “RECORDS” under the SST logo. You will notice that there’s no spacing between the letters so most of them touch. The labels in the 1st pressing are slightly lighter shade of fuchsia/pink than in the later pressings. Also the paper the labels were printed on is matt which isn’t the case in the 2nd press. The 1st press came only on black vinyl with a 1.5″ 45 hole.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A
Side B: SST 001-B

 

2nd pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 2nd pressing, 1980

1,000 copies released around the summer of 1980. All copies distributed prior to October, 1980.
Up until few years ago, most sources referred to the red cover versions as the 2nd press. SST didn’t keep any records on what, when or how many versions were pressed but a strong case can be made for this light blue version to be the 2nd press.
This version introduces the new cover design. The brick background disappears, the BLACK FLAG logo gets a revamp and the famous “bars” are added. While the back of the sleeve will go through several slight changes over the years, the front cover design, aside from the colour,  will remain pretty much unchanged from now on. I’ve also made an interesting observation, only for this particular pressing: when the covers were folded and glued into pockets, you can see where the side flaps go under the sides of the back cover. In my copy the visible folds are on the back, with the blue printed over it, meaning that the printing was done AFTER folding and glueing the covers together. The interesting bit is that I’ve seen some covers printed back to front. After looking again at Hanson’s page, his copy is one of those back to front where the front art is printed on the side of the cover with visible folds. See here. If you’re a completist, as you should be when collecting records, you might want to consider tracking both versions of this pressing down.
The label design is the same as the 1st press but the colour is slightly darker pink, just a shade, and the paper the labels were printed on is much more shiny/glossy than that of the 1st press.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A
Side B: SST 001-B

 

3rd pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 3rd pressing, 1980

Unknown quantity pressed after October of 1980, but because its similar rarity to the 2nd pressing, the quantity is guessed to be 1,000 copies or less. It is thought that all copies were distributed prior to the summer of 1981.
I always assumed this to be the 3rd press due to the fact that front and back of the sleeve match exactly the light blue version, except for being red of course. Unlike the previous sleeve though this one has a curved opening at the top back of the sleeve going upwards and front of the sleeve going downwards creating a sort eye-shaped opening facing towards the front of the cover. There have been some copies of the sleeve found that were test presses with other band artwork on them, ie. the front cover is pressed over the Tyme’s “Rock of the 80s” 7″ artwork and the back cover has the back cover of the Minutemen’s “Paranoid Time” 7″ in green ink.
The labels have the same font layout as the previous two pressings but they’re slightly more reddish pink, very similar in colour to the 2nd version but definitely a shade towards red. My scanner didn’t really pick up on those slight differences but they are apparent when you put them side by side. They are also not as glossy as the ones that came with light blue cover. The paper used here is very similar to that of the 1st press’ matt stock.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A
Side B: SST 001-B

 

4th pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 4th pressing, 1981 (?)

Unknown quantity pressed around summer of 1981. Quite possibly around a 1000 copies run.
The vinyl is identical to the previous version. The cover is printed in red but this time the opening is not curved but square cut with the top edge lower on the back of the cover. Back cover design is also scaled down in order to fit better. This one and the next, 5th version, are the most common and easiest to find out of all the different red cover ones.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A
Side B: SST 001-B

 

5th pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 5th pressing, 1982 (?)

Unknown quantity pressed around the year 1982.
The cover is identical to what I called the 4th press but the new label design is introduced. The layout matches previous versions but most fonts are replaced to the more condensed ones, it looks to me like a helvetica font family. The letters are no longer bubbly and are spaced out. Labels are a shade lighter in colour than the previous pressings but not as light as the 1st press. This pressing seem to be the most common in the red cover bracket so I am guessing 2,000 to 4,000 were done. Possibly more.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A
Side B: SST 001-B

 

6th pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : A version of the 5th pressing or 6th pressing

Well… 6th pressing or a messy version of the 5th pressing.
Everything is the same as in the 5th press but this time the paper used for the cover is a tad bit whiter (previous was a bit yellowish) which could be attributed to either this being a separate press or to the sunlight / storage conditions. Another thing that sets this one apart from the 5th is the print job. The ink is much darker, for some reason scanners in general don’t work well with red so it’s not so apparent in the scan but the ink is very different, almost maroon and kind of sandy. As in you can feel the printed surface under your fingers. Again, this could mean another pressing or a printer’s mishap. So it’s up to you to think of it as the version of the 5th or separate 6th pressing. I thought it was different/interesting enough to include it here. If you want to see how different these covers are look at the floor tiles. The red tiles in this version are MUCH darker than in the one above.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A
Side B: SST 001-B

 

7th pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 7th pressing, circa 1984-85

Unknown quantity pressed in 1984 or 1985 as the matrix runout (L-19417) shows that it was remastered at Greg Lee Processing in the middle or towards the end of 1984. This is the last version with the pink labels.
The labels are the same as in the versions #5 and #6 but the vinyl is much thinner. All of the previous versions were pressed on a sturdy wax, this one feel very flimsy in my hands and is much lighter. The cover is back to the curved opening, similar to the one in version #3, this time howver it is curve-cut the other way around.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A  L-19417
Side B: SST 001-B  L-19417-X

 

* * *

A NOTE FROM CHUCK DUKOWSKI REGARDING COLORED VINYL VERSIONS

To get clarification on pressing details for the colored vinyl versions of the Nervous Breakdown EP, Hanson contacted Chuck Dukowski and asked him the following question:

Hanson: Rainbo Records pressed your clear yellow and red vinyl versions of the Nervous Breakdown EP 001. The last time we spoke, you told me that they were pressed in 1990 or 1991. The info in the “Runout” dead wax area of the record has “R-12806 / R-12807” which, per Rainbo Records, would suggest that they were all pressed at the same time in 1989. Yet the yellow vinyl version has the red sleeve suggesting that it was released before the red vinyl versions. Was the yellow vinyl version released in 1989 and then the Red vinyl versions were released a year or two later? Or were they ALL released at the same time in 1989 just with different sleeves?

Chuck: Colored vinyl editions did not happen until 1990, but maybe some of the production work was 1989. It was something we thought would be a good idea to generate traffic between us and our 600 or so direct retail customers and they with their customers. We came out with a series of several colored vinyl editions around that time. We requested random colors from Rainbo so we had no idea what they’d deliver until we got them. They just threw our plates on the machines and ran out the vinyl they had in the press from other people’s runs. The stampers have all of that run out info you are talking about and those only change when they wear out every so often. So any editions of the title in question would have the same information for several years. During that time we also used up odd stock on covers, labels and sleeves. For instance, the red sleeves without the UPC were used for the yellow vinyl version and then the red vinyl versions got the new blue ink sleeve with the UPC. So the colored vinyl editions are real oddballs.

 

8th pressing, version 1

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 8th pressing, 1990, gold vinyl

Gold vinyl.
Unknown quantity pressed in 1990. The matrix runout for the entire 8th press, including all of the colour vinyl versions, (R-12806), shows that it was pressed at Rainbo Records in 1989, but per Chuck Dukowski, the production work was done in 1989, but the actual release didn’t happen until the following year.
The cover is identical to the version #7 but in the vinyl department just about everything changes. This is the first time this release gets pressed on colour vinyl, gold or clear yellow. Labels turn blue and are completely redesigned. Ale the centre hole is small for the first time. Also from now on for all of the subsequent re-pressings and for no apparent reason the title track will be incorrectly timed at 2:55 rather than the 2:05 that it was marked at up until this point.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A  R-12806  L-19417
Side B: SST 001-B  L-19417-X  R-12807

 

8th pressing, version 2

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 8th pressing, 1990, red vinyl, small hole version

Red vinyl, small hole.
Unknown quantity pressed in 1990.
More changes come with this version. Sleeve is still curved like the previous one but this time it’s printed in dark blue on glossy paper and the back cover receives yet another redesign including introduction of the barcode. Labels are the same as in the previous version but the vinyl is clear red this time around.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A  R-12806  L-19417
Side B: SST 001-B  L-19417-X  R-12807

 

8th pressing, version 3

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 8th pressing, 1990, red vinyl, large hole version

Red vinyl, large hole.
Unknown quantity pressed in 1990.
Identical to the previous version, except for the fact that the hole is now back to the 1.5″ 45 size.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A  R-12806  L-19417
Side B: SST 001-B  L-19417-X  R-12807

 

9th pressing, version 1

[ NO IMAGE, see what it looks like here ]

Unknown quantity pressed around the year 1992. Believed to have been pressed the same time as the 45 hole version.
At a glance this one appears to be the same as the colour vinyl versions of the previous pressing but no. The sleeve is cut in the same way as in the 1990 versions but this time the ink is slightly lighter in tone and the surface of the paper is covered with this high gloss coating not exactly the same but similar to that you find on some of the 70s UK punk records.
Black vinyl, blue labels, small hole.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A  R-12806  L-19417
Side B: SST 001-B  L-19417-X  R-12807

 

9th pressing, version 2

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 10th pressing, 1992, large hole version

Identical to the previous version aside from the fact that this one comes with the large 45 hole. Likely pressed at the same time.
Black vinyl, blue labels, big 45 hole.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A  R-12806  L-19417
Side B: SST 001-B  L-19417-X  R-12807

 

10th pressing, version 1

[ NO IMAGE, see what it looks like here ]

Black vinyl, blue labels, small hole. Unknown quantity pressed in 1998. Believed to have been pressed the same time as the large 45 hole version.
The sleeve is cut straight across the top edge unlike the previous curved opening version with the back edge slightly lower than the front top edge.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A  R-12806  L-19417
Side B: SST 001-B  L-19417-X  R-12807
Interestingly, there is a slight difference in the deadwax runout between this pressing and the previous five versions… Previously the “R-12806” in the deadwax runout looked like the “0” was actually a very small “6” and then was scratched out in a circular motion giving the appearance of a “0”. In this version, the small “6” is intact and has not been scratched out.

 

10th pressing, version 2

[ NO IMAGE, see what it looks like here ]

Black vinyl, blue labels, large 45 hole. Unknown quantity pressed in 1998. Believed to have been pressed the same time as the small hole version.
The sleeve is cut straight across the top edge unlike the previous curved opening version with the back edge slightly lower than the front top edge.

Matrix:
Side A: SST 001-A  R-12806  L-19417
Side B: SST 001-B  L-19417-X  R-12807

 

11th pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 11th pressing, 2007

Unknown quantity pressed in 2007.
Jacket is the same as the previous version except that it is printed on a heavier cardstock and this time around the top of the back edge is slightly taller than the front. The other way around from the 10th pressing. Vinyl is black, labels are still blue but matrix changes from this version.

Matrix:
Side A: 595- SST 001-7 (A) R-12806 DS
Side B: 595- SST 001-7 (B) R-12807 DS

 

12th pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 12th pressing, 2010

Unknown quantity pressed in September, 2010.
The jacket is very similar to the previous version. Labels retain the same design as the blue label copies but are now printed on white paper.

Matrix:
Side A: 595- SST 001-7 (A) R-12806 DS
Side B: 595- SST 001-7 (B) R-12807 DS

 

13th pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 13th pressing, 2011

Unknown quantity pressed sometime in 2011.
in every way identical to the previous version except for the vinyl colour which is now clear blue.

Matrix:
Side A: 595- SST 001-7 (A) R-12806 DS
Side B: 595- SST 001-7 (B) R-12807 DS

* * * * *

Along the way SST pressed the Nervous Breakdown in 10″ format as well. Nobody knows why. There are three known versions of the 10″:

1st pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 10″ pressing, 1991

Unknown quantity pressed around 1991.
Jacket is black and white, they used heavier card stock for this press. The layout of the sleeve very similar to the later 7″ pressings. Primary difference is that on reverse it is missing the bars logo and lists the band members. The 10″ versions all list the correct drummer as Brian Migdol and not Robo as was incorrectly listed on the reverse of the 1st pressing.  Labels are white and printed in blue.

Matrix
Side A: SST 916-A L-38353 Kdisc L S-25413
Side B: SST 916-B L-38353X Kdisc L S-25414

 

2nd pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 10″ pressing, blue vinyl, 1991

1,000 copies pressed on clear blue vinyl around 1991.
The jacket is much more flimsy than the previous one and printed in blue ink. Labels are off white with blue ink as well.

Matrix
Side A: SST 916-A L-38353 Kdisc L S-25413
Side B: SST 916-B L-38353X Kdisc L S-25414

3rd pressing

Black Flag : Nervous Breakdown : 10″ pressing, 1994

Unknown quantity pressed around 1994.
It looks very much like the blue vinyl version except that the wax is now black. The blue ink on the cover also has a slightly different tone.

Matrix
Side A: SST 916-A L-38353 Kdisc L S-25413
Side B: SST 916-B L-38353X Kdisc L S-25414

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