The best punk/hardcore album of all time? Beastie Boy Adam Yauch says so on the back of the CD re-release of the Bad Brains´ first album and I can´t say I disagree. With the hardcore part that is. As for punk there´s quite a few contenders out there, but Bad Brains makes classic hardcore outings by bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys or MDC sound rather tame in comparison, and that´s saying something...
Bad Brains were unique in many respects. They were four black rastas operating in a dominantly white musical genre. They alternated ferocious, ultrafast punkrock with remarkably convincing rootsreggae tunes (check out I Luv I Jah to see what I mean). They played their instruments very well; guitarist Dr. Know (née Gary Miller) even came from a jazz-fusion background. He formed the band in Washington DC in ´79 after hearing the Pistols and the Clash, never forgetting his loyalty to Marley and co. Metal riffing and furious and freaky guitar solo´s completed the musical menu on their first album, originally released in ´82 on the cassette-only ROIR-label.
And then there´s singer H.R. (Paul Hudson, the initials stand for Human Rights). Not only has he got an amazing voice and a diction all of his own, he´s got the ability to sing faster than lightning as well. Just try to sing along to Pay To Cum to see what I´m getting at. I´ll give you a hand with the lyrics: "I make decisions with precision, lost inside this manned collision, just to see that what to be, is perfectly my fantasy". Told you you couldn´t do it...
Bad Brains made a couple of good albums later on (Rock For Light from ´83 and I Against I from ´86 stand out), were an influence on countless other bands, fell apart, played under the name of Soul Brains without H.R. and reunited last year with a Yauch-produced cd that was quite ok. But they never could match the sheer brilliance they displayed on their debut. Brace yourself and enjoy ´that attitude...´
Bad Brains - Sailin´On MP3
Bad Brains - Attitude MP3
Bad Brains - I MP3
Bad Brains - Pay To Cum MP3
Bad Brains - I Luv I Jah MP3