The First Four Years was released in 1983 on SST Records. The compilation consists of all of the group's material released before Henry Rollins became the band's vocalist in 1981. It essentially collects the extended plays Nervous Breakdown (1978), Jealous Again (1980), Six Pack (1981), and the single "Louie Louie", with two tracks from various artists' compilation albums. Tracks 1-4 are taken from Nervous Breakdown, tracks 5-9 are taken from Jealous Again, tracks 11-13 are from Six Pack, and tracks 15-16 are taken from the "Louie Louie" single. Tracks 10 and 14 were originally released on the New Alliance Records compilation albums Cracks in the Sidewalk (1980) and Chunks (1981).