BLACK FLAG Nervous Breakdown
SST Records #SST-001 1978
500 copies (or a lot more) pressed in 1978.
The 1st press is the only version that features the “brick background”. Covers were printed on a semi-gloss medium weight paper and unlike all the subsequent pressings that were glued into pockets these were folded and packed in the poly bags with a flap that was sealed with a small SST sticker on the back. Unfortunately my copy is missing the seal so I couldn’t scan it but you can see what it looked like here.
The 1st version of the labels uses the more rounded fonts that is especially visible when you look at “RECORDS” under the SST logo.
Discogs pressing info speculates that the vinyl for the first 4 versions was pressed at the same time. They base that on the Greg Ginn’s statement in Spray Paint The Walls:
“We pressed up 2,000 copies for $1,000″ (UPDATE: See what Lecky said in the comments)
I have a different theory. While the layout and fonts are the same, the labels in the 1st pressing are slightly more pink than in any other pressing I have found. Also the paper the labels were printed on is matt which isn’t the case in the 2nd press. This leads me to the conclusion that at least the first two pressings were done separately rather than as a part of a larger haul.
In most sources the red cover versions are referred to 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.
Due to the fact that it is much harder to find than the 1st press I assume that no more than 500 were pressed.
This version introduces the new cover design. The brick background disappears, the BLACK FLAG logo gets a revamp and the famous “bars” are added. This front cover design will remain pretty much unchanged from now on.
The label design is the same but the colour is slightly more of a red shade and the paper the labels were printed on is much more shiny/glossy than that of the 1st press.
From this pressing on it is virtually impossible to determine the actual chronology so instead of “pressings” I will rather refer to different “versions”. I base the chronology purely on my poor deduction skills so don’t take any of it as facts.
I assume 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. The labels have the same layout as the previous two pressings but are not as glossy as the ones that came with light blue cover and not as pink as the 1st press. They’re slightly more reddish pink, similar in colour to the 2nd version. My scanner didn’t really pick up on those slight differences but they are apparent. Also, worth noting that this particular version was very difficult to track down which leads me to believe there were also no more than 500 pressed.
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. Back cover design is scaled down 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 therefore the Ginn’s statement “We pressed up 2,000 copies for $1,000″ may have been referring to either one of these in my opinion.
The cover is identical to version #4 but the new label design is introduced. The layout matches previous versions but most fonts are replaced to the more condensed ones.
Everything is the same as in the version #5 but this time the paper used for the cover is whiter (previous was a bit yellowish) and ink is darker (almost maroon) and kind of sandy. As in you can feel the printed surface under your fingers.
The vinyl is the same as in the versions #5 and #6 but the cover is back to the curved opening that is much rarer than the square cut one. Interestingly it is curve-cut the other way around to the version #3 curved sleeve.
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. Labels turn blue and the centre hole is small for the first time. Also from now on for all 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.
More changes come with this version. Sleeve is still curved like the previous one but this time it’s printed in dark blue and the barcode on the back appears for the first time. Labels are still blue but the vinyl is clear red this time around.
Everything is the same as in the version #9 except that the centre hole is back to the big 45 one
At a glance this one appears like the black vinyl version of the previous pressing but no. The sleeve is cut in the same way as in previous two 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 old 70s UK punk records.
Black vinyl, blue labels, big 45 hole.
The jacket is printed in dark blue again, heavier semi-gloss card stock, no longer curved. Black vinyl, blue labels, back to small hole.
Jacket is the same as the previous version. Vinyl is black but labels change to white.
Everything’s identical to the previous version except that the vinyl is now pressed on clear blue wax.
* * * * *
Along the way SST pressed the Nervous Breakdown in 10″ format as well. Nobody knows why. There are three known versions of the 10″:
Blue cover with blue vinyl that I was sure I had until I got round to scanning everything and realised the record was nowhere to be found. It’s gone AWOL so if you have one you would like to sell it to me please get in touch. I will add the scans as soon as I get hold of a copy.
Then there’s the same blue and white cover but with black vinyl.
The third version of the 10″ came with black and white cover and was pressed on black vinyl.