Bad Brains

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Bad Brains

Bad Brains - Bad Brains ©1982 ROIR
1. Sailin' On
2. Don't Need It
3. Attitude
4. The Regulator
5. Banned In D.C.
6. Jah Calling
7. Supertouch/Shitfit
8. Leaving Babylon
9. Fearless Vampire Killers
10. I
11. Big Take Over
12. Pay To Cum
13. Right Brigade
14. I Luv I Jah
15. Intro

Mere Words cannot describe the intensity, passion and soul of the early works of the Washington D.C. bred Bad Brains. First emerging as jazz-rock fusionists in 1978 under the moniker Mind Power, bassist Darryl Jenifer soon met up with an aspiring punk rocker named Sid McCray. McCray soon found himself handling vocal duties and the band, influenced by the intensity displayed by the bands in McCray's record collection, quickly began the transformation into the Bad Brains, now referred to by many as one of the most influential and charismatic bands to emerge from the extremely productive late 70's/early 80's punk scene.

The Bad Brains, combining the urgency and bombast of punk with the soul of reggae, burst onto the D.C. and New York City club scene with an innovative and exciting new sound. Not only did the Bad Brains material harbor lethal amounts of energy, it also had a way of seeping inside and moving the listener in a way that the standard punk rock record simply could not. And just as the Bad Brains would not deny their roots, the band also proved to transcend boundaries in an all-too-often close-minded scene, thus opening the doors for hundreds of future artists.

Originally released by the "cassette only" label ROIR, the label finally realized the imminent need to modernize and now one of the best and most important albums ever recorded is available on CD. (It was also released on CD by the former Relativity Records subsidiary In-Effect in 1989 under the title Attitude: The Roir Sessions - I recommend the ROIR version as it contains the original artwork and what-not). It's no secret why the material comprising this album has been released in many various versions over the years. From demo sessions to outtakes to re-recordings, the fourteen songs contained here are pretty amazing. Once the listener allows the hooks to sink in and absorbs the spiritual yet often-times defiant lyrical themes, he/she will discover that not only do the songs rock: they also uplift and make you feel good!

For those completely unfamiliar with the Bad Brains sound, let it be known that it may take a few listens before the material takes its grip. When I first borrowed a dubbed cassette of this album from a friend many years ago, I was the typical punk/metal fan into the standards (Black Flag, Misfits, Slayer, etc.), and found myself initially a tad bit reluctant to delve into the Bad Brains rather unique sound. So give this album a proper chance and see if it doesn't come to move you as it has me for so many years. Also, to read some great quotes by various different individuals on how great an album this is (or if this review hasn't served its purpose of pounding that into your head), check out the Roir Records Bad Brains page (click on the Roir link at the beginning of top of this review). And, as always, feel free to email me with any comments, questions, etc.

Review by Mike Rutherford

Review date: 01/2002

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I Against I

Bad Brains - I Against I ©1986 SST
1. Intro
2. I Against I
3. House Of Suffering
4. Re-ignition
5. Secret 77
6. Let Me Help
7. She's Calling You
8. Sacred Love
9. Hired Gun
10. Return To Heaven

After a series of near-legendary break-ups involving but not necessarily limited to HR's increasingly volatile temper and drug problems, Washington DC's legendary purveyors of rasta-hardcore regrouped for what many fans consider their benchmark release, I Against I. Equally furious and dynamic in a way that only the Brains could muster, I Against I showed a band discontent with sticking to the seemingly disparate walls of reggae and hardcore and branching out into even newer territories. Dr. Know's guitar playing had begun to move into a bizarre grey area that bridged the gap between punk, hard rock, and even post punk and ska, and the rhythm section of Earl Hudson and Darryl Jenifer freely alternated between furious thrashing and the groovy funk and fusion they had played prior to the formation of Bad Brains. Meanwhile, HR churned out what is probably his finest vocal performance on record. Schizophrenically jumping from his trademark punk growl to rasta croon to frantic sprechesang (famously, he recorded his vocals for "Sacred Love" via the telephone of the correctional facility he had been staying at), his performance is clearly indicative of his own crazed character, conveying his spiritual beliefs with passion and turmoil.

One does not need to look past the opening intro/title track to find that the Brains had made an equally huge stamp on the punk, rock, and metal worlds, crafting an album capable of standing next to their legendary debut in different but wholly satisfying ways. Essential.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 01/2008

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