Damaged is the quintessential hardcore album, but it was also more musically adept than most otherDamaged set the bar for others to aspire to. Rollins was pure id, an explosive vehicle for the songs. Though he only has one writing credit on the whole album, he took the songs to heart, embodied them, and fired them at the audience with an intensity rarely seen. The Black Flag guys were all a little older and Rollins certainly provided them with some youthful exuberance.
The album opens with "Rise Above," as perfect an example of a punk anthem as ever written by anyone. The songs, many already recorded with one or all of the previous singers, blaze by, like "Spray Paint" which clocks in at about thirty seconds. Interestingly, side A is full of anthemic, shorter punk songs, like "Police Story" and "Gimme Gimme Gimme, " while side B is far darker and more emotional and points towards the heavier, more metallic sound that Flag would evolve over the next two years, especially the slower closing track "Damaged I."
Damaged paved the way for more metal coming into hardcore and punk and I think an argument could be made for it being the first crossover album, which DRI and Corrosion of Conformity would popularize in a few short years when they transformed from hardcore to metal. Other hardcore bands would embrace metal as well, like Boston's SS Decontrol and LA's TSOL, but they went in a more Motely Crue direction, where DRI and COC embraced thrash metal, which itself was influenced by Black Flag as well as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
To me, On Broadway is a massively important document and I was really excited for its release, but for the more casual fan, it may not hold as much of a place in their heart. People should
check it out for "Martyrs" at the very least, as I've never come across another recording of it and its an excellent track. Similarly, the 1982 demoes are worth tracking down for the track "What Can You Believe" which has never been released elsewhere either- not to mention faster versions of "My War" and "Black Coffee."