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5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars
Bad Brains
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 12 August 2016
This is a great album to listen to in the car! Short, sharp and fast with an occasional foray into reggae. All of the songs are very short really, and the album is 34 minutes in total with the 15 listed tracks, but there is an unnamed 16th track as well. The production is typical of its era and genre at the time, it isn't the best, but then again, a crisp flawless job wouldn't suit it either! The album cover says it was printed in 1996, so I guess it was! There are lyrics to all of the songs and a short forward of the album's place in hardcore history.
There are many great, fast riff-filled tracks. Opener 'Sailin' On' is as fast and anthem if as it is riffs and memorable.
All of the songs are great apart from the pointless 'Intro'...which is the last track on the album...
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on 4 February 2001
Crashing out of Washington, D.C, Bad Brains were the first group that seized on the punk-reggae foundations laid by The Clash and Bob Marley. In turn, they created a vibrant yet ominous brand of hardcore rock. The album is EXTREME! It opens with the roaring 'Sailing On', which demonstrates singer H.R's primeval howl and Dr. Know's blitzkreiging guitar to fullest effect. The speed is cranked up a notch on other tracks such as 'Attitude' and 'Fearless Vampire Killers'. However, the band leans on it's dub roots for tracks such as 'Jah Calling' and the shimmering, transcendent 'I Luv I Jah'. The Rastafarian mysticism of these two songs are mixed with more political themes. 'The Regulator' is a tirade against censorship, whilst 'Big Take Over' is a warning about the evils of fascism. Overall, this record is anthemic, provocative and boiling with intense anger, providing inspiration for artists such as The Beastie Boys, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Moby. One listen and you'll be hooked. Throw away your Blink 182 and Offspring records because this is the real deal. Hardcore and uncomprimising.
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on 2 December 2002
If you have an appreciation of hardcore punk (and I'm most certainly NOT talking to all you 8-year-olds in your Offspring hoodies here), you need this album, simple as that. This 1982 album ('the best Punk/Hardcore album of all time™') is a truly amazing piece of work, originally only available on cassette, but now available on CD, in all its grungily-produced glory. Though the concept of a Rastafarian hardcore punk group may seen questionable at first glance, it actually makes a lot of sense; the two forms embrace a similar aesthetic and lyrically embrace a similar subject matter, and the groundwork for this album was laid years before by the likes of Bob Marley and The Clash. Not only were Bad Brains innovative in bringing these two forms together, but they could really play, as well. The rhythm section pounds with a tightness and aggression that puts many of the band's contemporaries to shame, over which Dr. Know (originally a jazz-fusion guitarist) spits out hyperspeed riffage and squealing, atonal lead passages, and vocalist H.R. displays his vast range of vocal stylings. This said, they seem all the while to stay true to punk's lo-fi, do-it-yourself aesthetic and avoid sounding too professional (you certainly couldn't accuse them of being over-produced - the muddy production renders the majority of H.R.'s lyrics indecipherable, though fortunately a lyrics sheet is supplied).
What this results in is a collection of 16 tracks which alternate between blistering, highspeed punk and laid-back shimmering dub, incorporating such bona-fide classics as 'Sailin' On', 'Pay To Cum', 'I Luv I Jah', 'Banned In D.C.', etc etc. Bad Brains proved to be highly influential upon a diverse collection of artists over the two decades following their debut's release, but its primary influence can be felt in the modern alt. rock/metal scene, with artists such as the Deftones, Will Haven, Fugazi, RHCP and Rage Against The Machine amongst many others claiming their indebtedness to them. Essential.
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on 3 April 2017
This is what the first Clash album should've sounded like.
The mixture of speed metal/punk and reggae has never been bettered.
Regrettably,the record companies didn't know what to make of BB,so
they have remained a cult influence for thirty six years. I had this
set on cassette originally,and even then thought it was way ahead of
its' time. No Fishbone, Beastie Boys etc without this bunch.
As for Dr Know, he is up there with James Williamson.
One of the greatest guitarists of all time,and one of most
neglected. Do yourself a big favour and buy this astonishing
album. You won't be sorry.
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on 8 January 2006
Hearlded as the finest punk record of all time. And you get no argument from me. Unbelievable blend of blazing hardcore songs juxtaposed with delightful reggae songs. And not just reggae but the kind that is not sleepy time. BAD BRAINS and STEEL PULSE both manage to make reggae songs that are lively. And I can't think of anyone who does both on one release.
I saw BAD BRAINS at the Ukranian Cultural Art Center in L.A. in 1981. To my complete surprise and delight, they simply performed this record, live, song for song. One could not ask for more. These guys know how to make both a great studio album (I understand about 3 of the songs on this original cassette release on ROIR are live) and do amazing live shows. Punk, generally, always had an affinity with reggae and nobody brings those worlds together as well as BAD BRAINS do.
The unbelievable guitar work, HR's vocals which, along with Iggy's I consider to be the best in punk and the foursome together so musically in synch, deliver an album that has never been topped in punk rock. They're so tight. They know just where they're going. The fast songs are fast. They sounded darned fast in the early 80's and they still sound fast, though maybe a tick less so given all the other fast bands that have come along since (ever heard the NEIGHBORS? They did a single European tour just before they broke up about 2003. Live they'd do like a 24 minute set of 22 songs with all 5 members simply playing as fast as humanly possible. It just sounded great. I thought for sure the singer was going to have an anurism when I saw them in 2002).
Don't like punk? Then don't get this record? Love reggae that's not chronically slow paced? This is the album for you but I don't know what it's like for a reggae fan to hear this album. I once made a tape of just BAD BRAINS reggae songs from all their records. Quite refreshing.
Of all their records, this continues to be their finest. Over the years I've seen them about 8 times and typically the songs from this record are the strongest and most appreciated by the audience.
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on 26 March 2006
I bought this when it was cassette-only release, in England in 1982. Just went and took it off my shelf now. Simply, this, to me, always remained their best album. Why? It 'hits the spot' of powerful, positive, extremely energetic and intensely FELT music. I could have said 'punk music', but it fulfils that purpose better than anything else in the whole sense of music, the distinguishing words being 'energetic' and 'powerful'; no other music, as felt, or positive as it may be, is as energetic and powerful as this, even if faster, or heavier.
And it's the genius of simplicity, just finding that perfect simple and effective riff, as in the 3 chords that finish off 'Right Brigade' for almost half the song, or the one in the middle of 'Banned in DC' (4 chords, I think), then the simple tricks, like the breakneck solo drumbeat on toms and snare, with short shots of distorted guitar, at the end of 'Don't Need It', and brilliant dramatic intros, like the awesome bass at the start of 'The Regulator', the 'smashing' run-down intro of 'I' and the doomy build-up of 'Big Takeover'. That's not to mention amazing tightness at amazing speed; and how does he sing so fast on 'Pay To Cum'?
Yeah, a million people could figure out the riffs and everything in not too long a time, and play much of it with one finger on a bass, simple drumbeats and barre chords, but how many people could come up with this, and then play it so fast, so tight, and with so much clear emotion.
And maybe the best way to sum up the lyrical content, the vibe of it, although it's from their next album, are the lines -
'We will not do what they want us to when they say, oh no!'
This music is riding your turbo-powered skateboard at 1000mph through the streets, while you, proudly and upright, striking a lithe but muscular figure, with beautiful dreadlocks, shamelessly shout your challenges to the square world around you.
'I've got that supertouch. Chances are, I've got too much. I've come to let you see. That you also can be free'
(I have to admit though; I like reggae no problem, but the Bad Brains reggae is not bad, but probably second-rate, but, fortunately, most of the album is as I described above; enough of it to forget about the 3 reggae tracks).
And as an extra, let me tell you the story, of how I selectively played this album to a Russian punk, but with some racist attitudes, skipping out the reggae tracks, and not letting him take the case and cover from me. He listened to all the 'punk' tracks, was blown away, I asked him what he thought they looked like, he imagined white guys with spikey bleached hair, I showed him the picture. He wasn't offended, he got the point, and his friends almost died laughing.
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on 1 November 2011
I have recommended this record to dozens of people over the years, promising them that it will change the way they think about music (certainly about punk/hardcore) as it did with me, and usually get a cynical reply that they will listen to it. Having done so, nearly all come back to me to tell me I was right and they were blown away. A must-have record.
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on 30 December 2016
This and discharges hear nothing see nothing say nothing are the two best punk albums ever written imo. Brilliant from start to finish, and I, as a ska fan also, enjoy the few reggae tracks on it too. Jazz musicians letting rip! If you enjoy punk or thrash metal you need to add it to your collection asap
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on 6 May 2007
I downloaded this album from i-tunes after reading a section about Bad Brains in the Total Guitar magazine plus having also heard an instumental version of Pay to Cum on the cd. It was one of the most fastest riffs i had heard in a long time and even right now i still struggle to capture that speed.

As Matt Baumbach stated 'check out any quick, catchy groove riff and whoever's written it is basically ripping off the Bad Brains', of course some of us may find that debateable, but this album here is the template for the bands we know like Sick of it All, Suicide Machines and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Hailed as the first african american hardcore group, Bad Brains never reached tremendous heights commercially, but its legacy has stood the test of time. Singer H.R. manages to range his voice from quick rat-a-tat-tat sounds to smooth reggae tones, plus it also feels like he's going to snap at any moment. The rhythm section featuring the incomparable Dr Know is one of the tightest groups which is no mean feat for the speed they play at.

If you're interested download Pay to Cum first, possibly the most accessible song here, but for the album you'll be treated to gems such as Fearless Vampire Killers, Banned in D.C., Right Brigade as well as lovely reggae songs like Leaving Babylon and I Luv I Jah.

Its a rare find around here now, so if you can find it buy it.
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on 26 November 2003
I cannot express the power of the material contained within this album. Makes me want to destroy things.
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