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December 12, 2006



Musically I still can't understand the hoo-ha on this band and probably won't win any friends by suggesting that being an all black hardcore band was at least half the attraction.
Also as a gay man I find their views on homosexuality abhorrent.

Ernie Hudson, "Winston" from Ghostbusters

As a token black guy, I find your views on race-based novelty abhorrent.


I loved Rock For Light and a couple of live albums i heard at university (i think one was called The Youth Are Getting Restless). The other day I head a pressing of their first demos called Black Dots. Black Dots blew me away.. the essential Bad Brains recordings IMO. Whats strange is I was listening to Rock For Light as I clicked onto your blog today!


I think I saw this band more than any other in the olden days. The best show I encountered with them was the very first one I was at, a very cramped Rock Hotel. I think this was after a period of them playing all reggae shows. I still feel thankful to the local guy who was much more into the hardcore scene than I was for introducing me to them. He took the Pepsi challenge approach, not revealing that they weren't a bunch of head shaven white guys rather than Black men in dreadlocks. In any case by that time they were too big for CBGBs anymore. Bad Brains and Motorhead are just about the only rock I have time for these days. The worst Bad Brains show I was at was the last one, in probably 1991 at whatever they were calling the former Studio 54 at the time. It was like a bunch a metal heads playing "kill the guy with the ball." I hurt my back. HR's first solo album was not bad. Went to see him play years after that album, also in the early 90s and it was not so good. But into the I Against I period I though they were still the best band I'd ever seen.


I of course worship the early stuff, the ROIR cassette and Black Dots (less so Rock For Light.) "Re-Ignition," though, is one of the best songs the Bad Brains ever did (if not one of the best metal riffs ever) and the album has grown a lot on me over the years. Quickness, the follow up, has some mighty good moments, too.

The Bad Brains were one of the best bands in hardcore not because they were black, but because they transcended the narrow limitations of the genre, had a reggae soul, and were also great musicians and songwriters. Most of the so-called legendary bands of hardcore couldn't extend their impact beyond a single e.p., but that's another discussion for another post.

Andy Luck

I saw the Bad Brain at CB's in '82 (or was it '83?) and I saw them at least six times between 1985 and 1986 (including the Rock Hotel reunion show). Although I enjoyed them every time, I honestly can't say that the CB's show was that much better. This is definitely a band that was a bit of a wild card (hello HR...) and they definately could be assholes (hello HR...).

Having said that, I have to admit that I've heard many horror stories about Bad Brains shows and they all seem plausible. Further more I have seen more than a few bands who balked at playing City Gardens for some reason (hello Lemmy...).

I was really into "I Against I" when it came out. It wasn't what I expected, but it sounded WAY BETTER recorded than the flaccid and thin tones on "Rock For Light" (a true let down). I also remember having to buy THREE copies, because they all skipped at the same place (hello SST...).

It was a time when HC bands were starting to get a different sound. Sometimes it sucked (SSD), sometimes it worked (Government Issue), but I guess the instinct was correct.

When I started to work at my current job, my metal head boss revealed to me how influential the sounds and music of "I Against I" was for the Metal crowd when that record hit. Apparently, not enough of an influence for me. Weird.

Its hard not to look over one's shoulder and revise things. I saw Flipper on their last tour with Will Shatter and it was bad. I felt differently about it , however, when I saw them with Shatter's replacement (a show I saw for free and still walked out of).

But in the end, if I could magically wish myself at any early 80's gig it would have to be either the Big Boys or the Dick's (first line-up). Sorry Minor Threat.

Enough already.


There is a pretty hilarious non-interview with HR conducted by Mark Prindle.

On a more serious note, check out the great documentary Afropunk about black punk music. If I remember correctly, every single musician in there mentions the Bad Brains as a major influence. And I vaguely remember that it features some short and very energetic Bad Brains concert footage.


Nothing can touch the Roir tape ... but I Against I is a pretty fine album if you ask me.


I am one who has enjoyed this album since buying it 1987-88 as teenager(mostly on the strength of the title track), but I find myself digging it more and more as the years pass. I am listening now, and "she's calling you" is blowing my mind with its depth. The first tape and "rock for light" still kill it, but this has shaped up to be one my favourite BR releases.


Fuck i'm drunk....(sic) above i meant "BB releases"

Steve PMX

The Bad Brains ROIR sessions launched me into the world of Dub Reggae at a very early age. I am forever grateful. That album has remained #1 on my list of most influential albums since I was 14. More blabbering about Bad Brains sparking my love of Dub here:

b. brown

Mike, I'm with you every inch on this, though I'm a little younger. I was 11 years old in 1991 when I first got lost in Bad Brains' hair. My first purchase (with a little birthday money) was "Quickness" on cassette. Since it was heavy and crazy, this 11 year old loved it. LOVED it. I learned every lyric and every note. A short time later I got into the s/t and "Rock For Light." At that age, the repeat-recordings of those songs confused me but I got the story later.

Next came "I Against I." The intro was the same from "Voyage Into Infinity" from "Quickness," but with the same take you had, I thought the rest of the album fucking sucked. It sounded like Prince or something. The guitar had a cheesy chorus effect on it, which was a quick, quick turnoff, even for a little kid.

Today, I am 26.5 years old and LOVE pretty much the same three tracks you noted. "Hired Gun" might have the 'Princiest' guitar sound of them all, but it has become on of my faves.

I also feel inclined to say I never got to see them play until 1994 (I think it was). Four times. Three times with Israel on vocals and once with H.R.

The H.R. "reunion" kicked off with five songs from their early period. The rest of the night was, ummm, irie.


I always thought that Hired Gun belonged in a film-noir movie. Love that song. I know that a lot of fans thought it was a dud but it is my favorite track on that album.


Finally, people that agree with me...this album was blah. It definitely lost me through Return to Heaven, She's Calling You, Hired Gun, Secret 77, and Sacred Love...the good tunes were the Intro, I Against I, Re-Ignition, and the awesome House Of Suffering... Quickness was way better and much harder(especially with Mackie's double bass drums). I think it was cool to hate Quickness because it was preceded by I Against I and usually people liked to whip out their "I like the old stuff better" and " I was there when they were cooler" rants.

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