Well does this band really need much introduction or blurb here? I would hope not! Among the earliest front runners and also one of the most Important bands in the history of American hardcore. I have wanted to do this post for some time and I have put up their SST stuff previously but I figured it was time for a proper post!
Now this time folks I am really Going to try not to go crazy here but this is Bad Brains after all and there's a LOT of ground to cover! But can i once again refer you to Steven Blush's Book "American Hardcore" for my money the DEFINITIVE word on the music and it's participants....
If you go to this link HERE you can actually read the whole "American Hardcore" book online free but this link will take you to the middle of the Bad Brains section of his book if you scroll up a little on the reader you will find a header page that says "BAD BRAINS : HOW LOW CAN A PUNK GET?" that's the beginning of the article.
It would save me a lot of time if you could just go off and read that and i can continue the policy of shorter write ups/more music! So Assuming you either came across this through a google search and just want the links to free music or you took my advice and went and read the linked article we can continue with a brief look at the links....
Ok so first up there is Bad Brains "Odds & Ends" This file contains the debut "Pay To Cum" 7" (both sides) the recent "God Of Love" Demos 7" that came with the record store day edition of the "God Of Love" album the "I & I Survive" 12" EP (with cover lablels etc scans) their blistering cover of MC5 : "Kick Out The Jams" with Henry Rollins on vocals which appeared on the soundtrack to the movie "Pump Up The Volume" and lastly because it's quite a cool curiosity I've put the 3 tracks from Mos Def's "The New Danger" which feature Black Jack Johnson the band project he was working on with Dr Know of Bad Brains! If you're a Brains fan you'll more than likely like them.
So lets start.... "Black Dots" these are Bad Brains very first demos recorded in 1979 at Inner Ear Studios with Don Zientara, now although most of these songs would be recorded and re-recorded over the next 4 years it's worth hearing these very early versions as though there are plenty of great fast hardcore songs that prove that Bad Brains were the first "fastest band on the planet" there are around 8 songs that were cut from their repertoire and didn't see the light of day till the 1996 release of this CD what's really worthy of attention is "Redbone In the City" with a riff taken straight off "God Save The Queen" and H.R. Doing his best Johnny Rotten impressions! That daftness aside it's a great set of demos and decent quality for demos too.
Not in order of release but in true chronological order next up we have "The Omega Sessions" this was released as a 10" and CD by Victory records in 1997 but was actually recorded in 1980!! This was Bad Brains first recording in a proper multi-track studio and not on 4 track you get six tracks which shockingly include a version of "i Against i" which would not see recording or release for another 6 years and the version on here aside from being less slickly produced that the album version is almost identical in every way which i find shocking because it would seem that Bad Brains had shown a HUGE progression when "i Against i" came out but they actually had this song in the can 6 years previously as tight and on the nail as it would be on the album also notable is the fact that outside of the b-side of the original "Pay To Cum" 7" this EP is the only place you will hear their funky reggae number "Stay Close to Me" this demo is just GREAT and i really wish it had seen the light sooner than 1997!
"Bad Brains" or "The Roir Tape" or "The Roir Sessions" or "Attitude" depending on which version you've seen was I suppose Bad Brains first album i don't know I never really felt it was though as it was a cassette only does that matter? i dunno? I guess it does to me! However this is the recording that put these guys into the hands of every hardcore fan it's certainly a blistering listen but some 3 years after "Black Dots" though they are faster,tighter and the songs sound better I don't see a GREAT deal of progression here, this is no doubt an utter a hardcore classic and I LOVE this album however for me personally i think these guys really hit their stride with next album and first album "proper" in my opinion...
"Rock For Light" from 1983 now i would appear to be in the minority here but this is by FAR my favorite Bad Brains recording I know that a lot of people hate the slick 80's production by Ric Ocasek of The Cars fame but I don't hear that myself what I do hear is one of the tightest, fastest and most accomplished hardcore records of the entire era. Now I have given you both a very good quality vinyl rip of the original 17 track 1983 PVC records LP and the overhauled remastered remixed caroline records 20 track CD version, Now I had lived with "Rock For Light" on vinyl for a long time before i bought the CD version and the remix/remaster/altered tracklist was so shocking in sound to me at the time I actually took the CD back to the shop and demanded a refund!!! However with older ears I bought it again when my record player died and I actually like it as much if not more than the LP version. I have given you both so you can hear how the album originally sounded in it's correct running order and so you can have the louder, better quality version with 3 bonus tracks because the bonus tracks include a short outro "jam" and blistering versions of "I" and "Supertouch" which were not on the vinyl and the latter 2 tracks are essential Bad Brains tracks especially "I" which is a personal favorite!
3 years later and after much inner band turmoil etc Next up we have 2nd album and first with all new songs and also first and only studio album for SST records 1986's "i Against i" now going back to "Rock For Light" and it's supposed 80's production well if ever there was an album with a production sound that clearly dates it it's this album! Produced by Ron St. Germain this album is very slick sounding and aside from the title track there's very little of what can be described as "Hardcore" on here however what you get is a completely unique sounding album from a band who have an abundance of talent whilst it may not fit neatly into any particular genre neatly this is a fantastic album, the lightning speed songs may not be present but this album shows a depth of maturity and progression in songwriting beyond the grasp of any band with the exception of one as talented as these guys! They most definitley fitted perfectly with SST's lexicon of original and genre defying music!
It would be another 3 years before another Bad Brains album would see the light if you took my recommendation and read the article on them linked at the beginning then you will know that this band despite having an abundance of talent being among the first all black "rock" groups that they did nothing but fuck themselves over time and time again H.R. had left the band and returned numerous times by this point and his brother Earl being the drummer always jumped ship with him, this had fragmented the band often and next album and first for Caroline records "Quickness" in 1989 had by rumor actually been recorded with Chuck Treece of Mcrad on vocals before H.R. and his brother returned to the fold at the last minute and H.R. re- recorded the vocals however despite being pictured on the cover Earl did not play the drums on this album drumming was handled by Mackie Jayson of Cro Mags! This is not a terrible album in any way it does lack the awesome songs of it's predecessor however i get the feeling that the band were lacking "A" material for this album because here you will find an almost exact rendition of "Intro" from "i Against i" now given vocals and re-titled "Voyage To Infinty" this album has more of a metal/hardcore feel than "i Against i" which to me is more of a regression than a progression however as i say it's not the best they had done and to my mind is where they started to slip downslope with their career!
So a further 4 years down the line it's 1993 and next up is "Rise" well I'm not even gonna start! Now signed to major label Epic records H.R. and Earl have once again left and we now have Mackie Jayson back on drums (Did he ever really leave seeing as how Earl had still played on nothing?) and one Dexter Pinto now re-christened Israel Joseph-I on vocals a great H.R. impersonator he may be but H.R. he ain't. All I will say is if you like Bad Brains you probably do/will hate this album if you are a fan of the kinda early 90's "alternative" metal stuff that was around then you will love this! Me personally i think it's a turd!
1995 and H.R. is back bringing Earl with him now signed to Madonna's Maverick Records (yeah THAT Madonna) and entering the studio once again with Ric Okasek producer of "Rock For Light" there was a lot of promise to this new reinvigorated original line up and the producer of their best album so enter "God Of Love" I have to be honest i do kinda like this album however it really isn't much of a progression from the sub par metal they were doing on the last album except this time the album is peppered with electronic reggae type songs (5 out of the 12 tracks) which are not too far away from the terrible reggae H.R. and Earl had been doing on SST under the Human Rights guise it's not an atrocious album it's definitely better than "Rise" well because H.R. is back it has some great moments but also some cringeworthy ones as well! And so ended the 90's for Bad Brains
It would really be a long time before we would hear anything more from this band but in 2002 they released "i & i Survived (Dub) " which i think may have been something the band had wanted to do for a long time and as modern dub albums go and being a fan of the Dub genre myself it's a pretty good listen if you like Bad Brains early reggae songs then there's a good chance that you will probably like this, but as there are no vocals unless you love your weed or are a fan of Dub anyway this might not be your thing! and the dub/metal crossover on a couple of reworkings of old tracks in a dub style are pretty bad!
2007 and some 12 years had passed since Bad Brains had last been in a studio together rumors abounded and as i've said from day one this band did themselves NO favours and they had lost the rights to their own fucking name at one point (see Soul Brains album in the live albums section) H.R. as if it was any surprise had had mental health problems and had been involved in some downright diry rotten scams and drug dealing etc so you'd think there would be little chance or in fact any point to this band doing anything new! Well BIG surprise in 2007 Bad Brains returned again with the original line up and a new album "Build A Nation" of which the cover heavily featured one of the oldest Bad Brains logo from their earliest days....
Was this an indication of taking influence from the early days or merely a ploy to remind people how great they were in the old days? Well to be honest before i start on this I have to say regardless of it's content to my mind there really isn't a place for Bad Brains in 2007 they have had too many problems, Major fuck ups and burned too many bridges and as I have said many times with the ease with which young new bands can get recorded and get themselves an audience via the good old internet to my mind it seemed like a pointless exrercise! That being said this is actually a VERY good album it sounds to me like an album that would fit kinda neatly between "Rock For Light" and "i Against i" whilst nowhere near the quality or importance of either of those albums the band really are firing on all 8 cylinders here and it's a fairly spectacular return to form! It has the fast hardcore songs the powerful mid paced stuff and also the reggae songs are actually pretty good this time! H.R. it has to be said whilst still a great vocalist is a little weak on here but the band themselves sound lean, fit and pretty damn blistering NOTE included in this file is the bonus track "Married Again" that was only available on the 7" box set version of this album!
So after this album all was quiet and it seemed like maybe Bad Brains had done a pretty decent album and tried to show the haters/disbelievers they still "had it" and that would appear to be that, but surprisingly another 5 years later in 2012 we got "Into The Future" This is also a pretty decent album this time round the production is a lot slicker there's a bit more reggae this time but it's still good and the pace is just a little more sedate than the last album I would say this album bears a little resemblance to "Quickness" with it's flashy metal chops and riffage of the 2 latest albums for me "Build A Nation" is the better but I really do think that both these post millennium albums are more worth a listen than "Quickness" "Rise" or "God Of Love" if these had been the albums they had done in the 90's after "Quickness" i think they may have had a shot at reedeming themselves however good as they are it just seems well.... a little TOO late!
So That rounds up your studio albums there are also no less than 5 live albums as well. "Live CBGB's 1982" released to tie in with the 2006 DVD of this show, it is a fairly decent run through the early material but the quality isn't amazing and sounds to me like a fairly average soundboard quality maybe even high end audience recording good but not essential. During Bad Brains time with SST i get the feeling that Greg Ginn may not have been too pleased with the fact that he only got 1 studio album from them as "i Against i" was apparently a huge seller!! so in true Ginn milking it style he released the "Live" album and "Spirit Electricity" Live mini album both of them are cobbled together from various live shows of the SST era and whilst both are decent quality recordings neither represents a full Bad brains show and are only included for completions sake. "The Youth Are Getting Restless" recorded live at the Paradiso Amsterdam in April 1987 is an almost full set of Bad Brains live at their peak (Note this is only about 4 songs shy of a full set I have the full set but it's in my malfunctioning hard drive but if i ever retrieve that I will update this post) If you only download one of the Live albums in this post make it this one it's BLISTERING! Lastly for live albums we have "Soul Brains : A Bad Brains Re-union" from 2001 now as i said previously by this point the band were so fucked they had even lost the rights to their own name hence Soul Brains musically and quality wise it's a great set good song selection and a great raw but tight sound however H.R. seems to be a little lackluster here and not really giving it 100% more like 60%! However it's a part of their official releases and I include it here for you to check out!
Well that's it folk another one of my apparently not long write ups ha ha!! Unfortunately even with the minimal info i have given here it's still a lot of ground to cover and to be honest a lot of the material these guys have released I actually have been thinking while going over this write up that maybe i should've just gave you the essentials but Bad Brains story is a long,complicated and tragic one here were 4 very talented middle class kids from the D.C. suburbs who started out as a jazz fusion band discovered punk and along with Black Flag pretty much invented hardcore discovered Rastafarianism and started introducing some truly brilliant reggae among their lightning fast hardcore and believe me for quite some time Bad Brains were THE fastest band you could lay your hands on these guys were causing major interest wherever they went with their amazing music and blistering energetic live shows they influenced countless bands they were poised for world takeover and they fucked it all up! They never really regained their lost ground even after "i Against i" and have remained a curiosity ever since but damn those early records importance can NEVER be understated. Bad Brains were a supremely talented band and without the the face of Hardcore and to some extent music as a whole would be vastly different if they had never existed! So you've heard my opinion go check them out and judge for yourselves if you have never heard them before then i wish i was you because hearing the 7" version of "Pay To Cum" or the albums "Rock For Light" or "i Against i" for the first time was a revelation for me and still leaves me with my jaw on the floor some 30 years later.And judging by the amount of really young kids i see with bad Brains Patches/Badges/T-shirts proudly displayed i believe the appeal of this once mighty band is set to endure forever.
Bad Brains Odds N Ends - Mediafire
Black Dots - Mediafire
Bad Brains (AKA Roir Tape) - Mediafire
Omega Sessions (1982 Demo) - Mediafire
Live At CBGB's 1982 - Mediafire
Rock For Light (VINYL Version) - Mediafire
Rock For Light (CD Remix/Remaster) - Mediafire
i Against i - Mediafire
Live - Mediafire
Spirit Electricity (Live) - Mediafire
The Youth Are Getting Restless (Live 1987) - Mediafire
Quickness - Mediafire
Rise - Mediafire
God Of Love - Mediafire
Soul Brains (Live 2001) - Mediafire
i & i Survived (In Dub) - Mediafire
Build A Nation (With Bonus Track) - Mediafire
Into The Future - Mediafire