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.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lethal Aggression - 1985-1990 Anthology

Lethal Aggression were a crossover hardcore/thrash band from Asbury Park, NJ. One of my favorite bands to ever come out of the NJ hardcore scene. Being from Jersey myself, it was classic NJHC bands like Lethal Aggression, Mental Abuse, Social Decay, Dirge etc that inspired me to start my first band back in 1987. At some point, one of my old bands (possibly S.M.O., one of the many demo-only bands i was in at the time) most likely played with Lethal Aggression. The late '80s/early '90s are a blur to me now. All i remember is that for a while we had one a hell of a scene, and it was a fun time. So here's the music. All ripped at 320. Enjoy!

Lethal Aggression Anthology

The original Lethal Aggression lineup didn't last too long. John Salterelli on vocals, Rob DeFroscia on guitar, Spencer on bass, and Phil Giordano on drums. That incarnation of the band lasted a few shows until Spencer and Phil were replaced by George Yeck and Kenny Lund. With this lineup the band recorded their 1985 demo and first full length LP.

From The Cunt Of The Fucking Whore demo

John Salterelli - vocals
Rob DeFroscia - guitar
George Yeck - bass
Kenny Lund - drums

This classic NJHC demo was recorded on Nov. 4, 1985 in a garage in Hoboken. Opium-fueled and cranked out in 3 hours (from 3:30 to 6:30), for less than $60 bucks. My favorite Lethal Aggression recordings by far. In 2001, the demo was released on CD by Relapse Records, along with the band's unreleased Godservation LP from 1991. The demo rip here is not from the Relapse CD. This is a restored version. Nice full sound, no tape hiss or other noises. I personally think it sounds better than the one on the Relapse CD, which is well worth buying (if it's still in print) for the great Godservation album.

Life Is Hard... But That's No Excuse At All! LP

Excellent debut. Re-recorded songs from the demo plus a shitload more. Originally released on both LP and CD by Funhouse Records out of Germany in 1988. Recorded at Waterfront Studios in Hoboken, NJ. Mixed in Ohio and mastered in Germany. In 2007, the CD was re-issued with lots of bonus material. The Circle Pit Of Life demo (2006), the Subliminal Erosion 7" (1990), the "Just Killed Rock n' Roll" 7" (1987), and 2 live tracks from the band's first show. Recorded in May of 1985 at the Brick Roller Forum. All remastered. For some odd reason, the track-list for the LP was changed on this re-issue. Another release well worth hunting down for all the great bonus material. The rip here is from this re-issue, with the tracks put back in the correct order, or as close as possible since their seems to be tracks both missing and added from the original 1988 version.

Between 1987 and 1988 the band contributed tracks to various compilations, including the Complete Death 2 LP (1988 Metal Blade/Death Records) and the live L'Amour Rocks comp LP (1987 Mercenary Records).

Subliminal Erosion 7"

Shortly after the release of the LP, Rob DeFroscia left the band and joined Breakdown. Former Social Decay bassist Dave Gutierrez came in on guitar. With this lineup the band recorded the Subliminal Erosion 7". Originally released on Virulence Records out of France in 1990 with fold-out lyric sheet. Another fine slab of madness, only letting up for the comical Spooge 2. Seems the band could never get away from that song. This rip is also from the 2007 re-issue.

The rehearsal tracks were recorded on 5/5/86. Thanks to the amazing Lockjaw blog for this one. Once again, these tracks have been fully restored and sound much better than the original rip. These rehearsal tracks are fantastic. The band speeds through 9 tracks including a cover of Bad Brains' classic Right Brigade. The rehearsal version of I'll Fight is just furious. It kills the LP version. I get a big NYC Mayhem vibe from these recordings, both in the music and the production. Awesome.

In 2009 Lethal Aggression released the Ad Nauseum full length on Horror Pain Gore Death Productions. 13 new tracks and 36 minutes of live recordings on the "untitled" tracks 14, not credited on the CD. Check it out.

Hopefully this post exposes this great band to some people who may have never heard them. This is stuff that needs to be heard. If you like what you hear, buy whatever is available. It's all top shelf.

For more on the band, check out the great Demo Tapes blog run by Tommy of Social Decay.

side note - there will now be "Easter Eggs" on the blog. If you see anything that is a clickable link (it could be a letter, a word, a comma etc), it leads to a surprise download.