Thursday, February 17, 2005

You can't afford to close your doors

In the spirit of keeping you on your toes, I'm gonna do an about face from my last musical post and bring up another band of my youth, Bad Brains. Now, if you don't know who these guys are, well, you've a lot to learn.

The original line-up consisted of Dr. Know (Gary Miller), H.R. (Paul Hudson) Darryl Jenifer and Earl Hudson. Originally a jazz-fusion band called Mind Power, they heard/saw the Sex-Pistols and things changed - The Clash was next and they begin to form a sound. Apparently it was a chance brief meeting with Bob Marley that completed the mix: a rastafarian hard-core punk sound.

In some ways, it's difficult to even talk about these guys, because their history, in the punk world is so influential. It's a lot like their first show:
"It was different, because we were all black and playing punk rock music. The news spread around DC," HR says. "Before we had even played our first show, people were coming up to me telling me how good the Bad Brains are."

And their praises are sung by many (from Greg Tate's bio):
The ‘brains not only influenced their once and future kindred Black rockers with these greatest riffs, but closer to the D.C. homeland, the Minor Threats and Black Flags and Cro-Mags of this world too, not to mention the Metallicas and the Nirvanas and the System of a Downs. They should have been as lavishly promoted and mass marketed as those bands, become likewise household names and such and truth to tell they might have if not for a glitch or two but such fanfare wasn’t in the cards. Yet as is the case with many an African American musical pioneers, I and I out-survived their over-hyped peers, remain creatively atop their game and will still blow any new jack’s butt off the stage if they have to.

Those once and future Black rockers included Angelo Moore of Fishbone and Corey Glover of Living Colour, among others. And so their sound echoed throughout the underground...and they never really stepped out of it, although they had brief brushes of fame in their later years.

There are so many things that could be said about this band, and I could never do them credit. I'd recommend going over to Astralwerks/Caroline and checking out their site, you can hear some more tracks and watch some video there. There's also a good early bio of the band over at Break My Face. And here's a bio from a Beastie Boys centric universe that's also decent, apparently Yauch is/was a huge fan, and he's produced their latest album, being released under the name Soul Brains. According to Jenifer:
"We never really intend to do anything. But I said, 'I want this record to sound like the old Bad Brains -- I want it to be straight-up hardcore. No tricks, no bells, no whistles. And I want the reggae to be straight rub-a-dub, no little riffs and stuff. The rock -- straight-up speedcore, the way we were known for doing it.' It doesn't have an 'I Against I' appeal to it; it's more like 'Rock For Light.' It's like the cousins of those riffs."

I don't know when that album is coming out, haven't found a release date for it yet, but it sounds promising.

So here are two tracks from the 1983 album, "Rock for Light." Strangely enough, this album was produced by Ric Ocasek (of the Cars). I'd love to hear some stories from how that came about...

Bad Brains - Banned in D.C. - REMOVED
Bad Brains - Rally Around Jah Throne - REMOVED

The above photo was taken by Cynthia Connolly, from her GREAT book, Banned in DC, which you can see more of and purchase over at Southern Records.

You can purchase their records from Amazon, as usual.


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