Bad Brains - Bad Brains

As far as hardcore punk goes, the band that set the mark for me was Bad Brains. More specifically, their first album. Originally only available on cassette from the ROIR label, it was re-released on CD a while back and I took the opportunity to pick up this landmark in punk music.

Basically, Bad Brains can be accredited for not only getting me into punk, but influencing a shitload of bands and making a lasting impression on the genre as one of the most electrifying acts ever. These four black guys from DC not only broke the racial barrier in punk music, but also threw in some unorthodox techniques and styles, had incredible talent and ability, and managed to play the fastest music of any punk band to this day.

Bad Brains starts off with one of the better tracks, "Sailin' On". The CD keeps churning full throttle, with other standout tracks like "Don't Need It", "Attitude" and the landmark "Banned in DC", which is mindblowingly fast and thrashy, then switches to a slower verse at the end. Later on, listeners are introduced to Bad Brains's reggae and dub leanings with tracks like "Jah Calling" and "Leaving Babylon". More raw power comes in the forms of "Supertouch/Shitfit", "Fearless Vampire Killers", and another classic, "Pay to Cum".

At first, listeners might be slightly disturbed by the incomprehensible yelps and yells emitted from the singer, Paul (H.R.) Hudson, but they'll get used to it. Hell, it just wouldn't be the Brains without him. The guitarist Dr. Know plays consistently fast, displaying incredible dexterity with his metal-tinged solos, but the other band members never miss a beat. Earl Hudson is one of the greatest punk drummers ever, hands down, and Darryl Jennifer keeps the bass thumping.

Bad Brains should not be missed by any punk enthusiast or lover of fast music. This record is twenty years old, and I still haven't found any band that plays as consistently good and fast as the Brains did. I don't have a single bad thing to say about this album, except that I definitely prefer their punk tracks (which make up a majority of the album) to their few reggae songs. If you're looking for hardcore punk, this is it.


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