Monday, May 31, 2010

Review #122: Bad Brains - Bad Brains (1982)


Year: 1982
Genre: Punk Rock, Reggae
29 Minutes
My Rating:

Bad Brains is often considered among one of the several bands that "started" the hardcore punk movement. Originally formed in 1977 as a jazz-fusion group blah blah blah I probably said all of this in my review of "Pay to Cum". So, by 1982, they were ready to release their first full album. And guess what it was called? *Drumroll* -- BAD BRAINS! GET IT?? GAHAHAHAH!! By this point, being devout Rastafarians, the band members also were showing their love for reggae music. Many bands had already and have since followed suit. I don't completely understand the intense correlation between punk rock and Jamaican music (reggae, ska) to be completely honest, but for many the two seem to go together like peanut butter & jelly, so let it be -- the two genres, as this album proves, do sound very good together anyways. For this album, the band was signed to ROIR Records.

1. Sailin' On
Fast song with upbeat riffs at all times. Very talented singing, ranging from screaming to crooning (hey, they did use to play jazz). Echoey solo in the middle of the song. Thrashing waves of rage!

2. Don't Need It
Another very fast song. Angry beginning riff, and then an even cooler verse riff. The song is about not needing excesses in material possessions, but just living with happiness from one's self. Very intense and there's a good solo around the end of the song.

3. Attitude
Backing vocals used in this song. It talks about having a "PMA" (Positive Mental Attitude). Basically talking about how punks used their positivity to rise above scorn from society.

4. The Regulator
This song's a bit slower than the three before it. Heavy bass. The guitar sounds sound really cool. The very ending part is really fast.

5. Banned in D.C.
Here's a really good song. The riff is great, the beat is fast, and the vocals are really powerful. This song's about how the band doesn't care if they've been "banned in D.C." because there's "a thousand more places to go". The slow section in the second half of the song is fucking awesome with an even better riff. H.R. sings about how someday the clubs won't have enough money to even let anyone in.

6. Jah Calling
After all that crazy, fast, loud hardcore, let's listen to some reggae... this song's an instrumental. One standout feature of this song is a big, long, spacey lead-guitar solo that sounds very cool. I wonder if the Beastie Boys were trying to parody this song with "Beastie Revolution" (with the fact that repeated samples are also being used in this song and the very similar bassline). This song was recorded live.

7. Supertouch/Shitfit
Back to the fast stuff. Two songs in one, eh? The first song is about how society doesn't take punk rockers seriously and how the "troopers" always infiltrate their shows. Then there's "Shitfit". It's a breakup song. Starts and ends hyper-fast, but there's a very slow mid-section.

8. Leaving Babylon
Another reggae song, but this one has lyrics and singing. I really like the sound of the guitar, here. It's slow and bassy. And echoey. Rastafarians believe that "Babylon" is actually modern western civilization, which unfortunately often oppresses the poor. H.R. reckons that his people should leave. Four minute long. End of Side 1.

9. Fearless Vampire Killers
This song's about killing the rich and ending the bloodshed of innocent people due to their wars. "I'm a member of the F.V.K.". Fast n' furious.

10. I
It's a one-letter song. "I". The character, I, would be probably featured in many other song and album titles. Fast but not super fast. Really bad-ass riff. The song seems to be about seeking revenge on society. Great solo. This song reminds me a lot of a later-era Black Flag song.

11. Big Take Over
Begins with a strange, noisy, chaotic intro. Forty seconds in, the main part of the song begins. Similar tempo to the song before it. The lyrics of this song compare the future of America to Nazi Germany, telling the listener to "prepare for your final quest". Really cool guitar solo towards the end of the song.

12. Pay to Cum
Yep, here's "Pay to Cum" again. This version's even faster than the first version, but slightly less raw. The song's about how we live in a society in which we have to pay for everything, sometimes even to, well, cum. This is one of the most famous Bad Brains songs.

13. Right Brigade
The first half is fast, the second half is slow. The singer is a member of the Right Brigade. 'Cause, like, he's right and stuff. Needly-noodly guitar solo.

14. I Luv I Jah
One last reggae piece. This song's about how H.R. feels like everyone around him judges him, but according to himself, he must keep up his "P.M.A." (a phrase for 'Positive Mental Attitude' which is used frequently throughout the album). It's a nice song. Longest song on the record, being over six minutes long.

15. Intro
This one's just sort of a mind-fuck. It's a twenty-second song that SOUNDS like it's going to be a full song, but as the song gets faster, everything suddenly just stops and spins off into the nothingness. And that's the end.

Well, definitely a good album that I had not really fully listened to. The punk songs are intense as hell, and the reggae songs are also very good. A year later, Bad Brains released their famous second album called "Rock For Light". I have not heard it yet, so that will be a review to be written another day. But if you haven't already heard this record, then why don't you go give it a spin already? I dunno. dfjsdfkjsgkfhgdfk

Top 3 Favorites:
1. Banned in D.C.
2. Don't Need It
3. Jah Calling

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