Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Bad Brains In The City
This is a compilation of rare, and not so rare, studio and live recordings. All nicely restored from the best possible sources. There are no full sessions or complete live sets. This is more of a collection of the best sounding recordings i could find. Everything flows together quite nicely though, and it turned out better than i expected. Hope you enjoy it as much as i do.
Bad Brains in The City
"Bad Brains in The City" is a nod to both the song Redbone in The City and the Bad Brains taking over New York City in the early '80s after being banned from D.C.
Hard to believe that some these songs, including tracks that were later injected with steroids for the band's self-titled cassette on Roir, and the Rock For Light LP, were written in the late '70s. While the classic rock scene was winding down, and post-punk was thriving with bands writing great songs, the Bad Brains were busy writing blueprints. Taking inspiration from the fresh new punk scene, and introducing the elements that would be the very beginnings of the hardcore sound that exploded in the early '80s. The speed, the anger, the buildups, the breakdowns, the energy... the template. Of course there's countless arguments about "who was the first hardcore band?", and bands like D.O.A. are brought up. Well, i can't tell you who was first, i can only tell you who was the best. In my opinion, by 1981, the Bad Brains had recorded material that is unsurpassed in the genre to this day.
OK, enough ranting about the greatness of the band as i could go on forever about it as i'm sure many others could. On to the recordings in this collection..
First up are four tracks that are reason enough to start downloading. These are demos recorded sometime in 1980. There's no information i can find on these sessions, but they are as essential as any Bad Brains recordings you've heard. These songs sound similar to the 1979 "Black Dots" versions, but these are faster, heavier, and more aggressive. They sound (both production and performance wise) much closer to the sound on the Roir tape than the "Zientara Sessions" on the Black Dots release (recorded on 4-track at Inner Ear Studios). I wouldn't be surprised if they were recorded at 171A Studios, but i'm not sure if they recorded there prior to 1981. The first three tracks are especially vicious, and maybe the earliest true representation of the powerhouse the band would become. There were two other tracks from these sessions not included here. Don't Bother Me, which was unfortunately cut, and Supertouch/Shitfit which had some major drop-outs and other problems. The sound quality on the four demo tracks that did make the cut are excellent. Restored to the best of my abilities from FLAC files and converted to 320kbps mp3s. Absolutely essential.
Next up are three tracks recorded at 171A in NYC by Jay Dublee in 1981. Two rippers (Black Dots and Send You No Flowers) and one Sex Pistols tribute (Redbone in The City), that didn't make it onto the Roir tape, but were finally unearthed and released as a 7" on Cleopatra Cafe Records in 2009. This unofficial release, made in Ethiopia, also included an unreleased reggae influenced track entitled Recognize, recorded live in San Diego on Nov. 10, 1985 at Wabash Hall in San Diego, CA. The band's self-titled cassette on Roir was recorded at 171A from August-October of 1981. Jah Calling, Pay To Cum and I Love I Jah recorded live at 171A on May 16, 1981.
Pay to Cum is from the original 7" version (the band's vinyl debut), originally released on Bad Brains Records in 1980 and both bootlegged and re-released countless times since (to this day). Recorded in December of 1979 at Dots Studio in NY. This track was ripped from a remastered CD version.
The Rat Music For Rat People compilation LP was originally released on Go! Records in 1982. These versions of How Low Can A Punk Get? and Don't Bother Me (printed as "You") were exclusive to this comp, and to me are the definitive recordings of both. Recorded live at The Elite Club in San Francisco on March 20 of 1982. I can only imagine hearing the opening riff to How Low Can A Punk Get? for the first time back in '82. Fuck, nearly 30 years later and this songs wipes the floor with anything considered hardcore recorded during the past two decades. The Rat Music For Rat People comp also included D.O.A., Flipper, Circle Jerks, Crucifix, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, T.S.O.L., Avengers and The Dils (great song). How's that lineup? Yeah, they don't make 'em like that anymore. The comp was re-released in 1988 on CD Presents Ltd. with new cover art. CD Presents Ltd. followed up Rat Music For Rat People with Vol. 2 in 1984 and Vol. 3 in 1987 (not as great as the first 2, but worth it for the amazing Rocks of Sweden by Naked Raygun and a few other stand-out tracks). CD Presents put out a comp of selected tracks from all 3 LPs, released in 1987 on CD. In my opinion they should have went the whole ten yards and re-released all of it. Once again, these tracks are ripped from remastered CD versions.
Next is one of the best live Bad Brains sets i've yet to hear. A great soundboard recording of Bad Brains tearing up The Elks Center in Philly, PA on January 30 of 1982. This is not the complete set. Supertouch/Shitfit (is this song cursed?) and Riot Squad were both cut off mid-song so i left them off the set. I Also left off Attitude, as it sounds like they didn't have the recording levels adjusted properly yet, and the song has a kind of "wall of noise" sound. After that the set sounds fantastic, and includes all the classics you would expect from an '82 set. The reggae songs sound especially great on here, Rally Round Jah Throne being a personal fave.
As to make up for the three missing tracks, i included Riot Squad and Attitude from a set live at the Filmore, recorded on March 20, 1982. I also included The Regulator and I and I Survive from this set, as they are not on the Elks Center set. The entire Filmore set is available for download on various "pay for mp3" sites, including Amazon. It should be free.
The demo version of Re-Ignition was recorded in 1985. No info on this recording. I prefer this version of the song over the LP version. It's a bit slower and looser, and has a cool little dive-bomb guitar part during the main riff. Hopefully more I Against I demos make their way online. I'd love to hear more.
Next up are 3 songs recorded live at The Bandshell in Daytona Beach, FL. recorded 3/20/87. Excellent sound, excellent performance. I Against I especially kills.
The unreleased song was recorded at Madam's Organ in 1980. Sound is a bit rough on this one but it's a great hardcore song. It's tracks like this and the unreleased song Success from 1979 that makes me wonder just how many tracks the Bad Brains recorded (or just rehearsed) that never saw the light of day.
H.R. - vocals
Dr. Know - guitar
Darryl Jennifer - bass
Earl Hudson - drums
If it's not this lineup, it's not the Bad Brains.