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.