Henry Rollins, Black Flag's fourth and final singer, steadfastly refused to revisit his former band's classic punk material until three extremely controversial murder convictions convinced him to reconsider. Last year, he adopted the cause of the West Memphis Three, the Arkansas teenagers found guilty of three gruesome deaths, largely on the evidence that their status as Metallica fans had earned them a reputation as satanists. "I saw that, and I thought, if I don't try and do something about this, then I'm as fucked up as the people who put them away," says Rollins. Do something he did, producing last year's Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three
, for which he recruited his band and a bevy of all-star punk and metal singers to re-create seminal vitriol penned by Flag founder Greg Ginn. Despite ongoing tension between Flag's guitarist and mouthpiece, Ginn gave the project his blessing.
"All of the singers in the band were just kinda guys who barked out the songs with different degrees of competency and charisma," says Rollins, "I think the best of which was Keith Morris." Morris made punk history on Flag's 1978 debut EP before going on to front the legendary Circle Jerks, whose ongoing high jinks kept him limber until Rollins invited him to take the WM3 benefit on the road. It's not exactly a reunion, but it's great hardcore for a good cause.