Bad Brains are:
"We don't have no gimmick, I ain't no gimmick man.
You see the Clash on stage and they're all high on some kind of speed.
If I want some energy, I just drink some orange juice
and go out and rock harder than all of them." -Darryl Jenifer
Needless to say Bad Brains are one of the defining bands of the hardcore punk genre. Their mixture of lightning fast punk and cool reggae is part of what makes them so unique. Thier live show is the stuff of legend, and this record shows that. While the album entitled Live! is a compilation of songs from different shows on the same tour, this album is taken from one amazing night in Amsterdam.
The set atarts off with a blistering rendition of "I," from their first album. Those of us who never got to see them play at their best automatically understand what makes them so great. Paul is effortlessly pounding away, Darryl's work on the bass is almost perfect, and Dr. Know plays like a man possessed. The good doctor shows off his skills in the second track, "Rock for Light," which is followed by "Right Brigade" and "House of Suffering," whch by the way sounds better live than on I Against I in my opinion; in fact it's one of the best songs bad brains ever wrote. The fifth track has the band covering a Beatles tune "Day Tripper." It's an interesting choice for a cover and is also a great change of pace. The Brains kick it back into gear with"Coptic Times," a hardcore song that is very "Rasta" but is just another example of the bands amazing talent and H.R.'s intensity. The best part of that track has to be the quick breakdown. The next two tracks, Sacred Love and Reigniton both come off of I Against I. They are a bit slower, but still kick ass. It gives the band a chance to show that they can slow it down and still rocke harder than any other band out there. It shows H.R's talent as a vocalist, and Dr.Knows's unquestioned virtuosity. Both songs also show the great rythm section that is more less perfect throughout the show. Let me help is next, and it's not one of my favorite Bad Brains songs, but it is still amazing especially live.
The band gets back to the reggae thing with a great track called "the youth are getting restless." The song starts off with a nice low bassline from Darryl, with Paul, Doc and H.R. following. Personally I think the song is great, but anyone turned off by reggae, or rastafarianism probably wouldn't like the song, although the song isn't just a rant about Jah, it's also a song about impending revolution.
The band makes a seamless transition to what might be thier best song, Banned in D.C. H.R. is so intense on this track it's unbelievable. And as always, the band's playing is unlike anything else out there. Dr. Konw is absolutely amazing on this one. You only get to hear the crowds great reaction for a quick second, as the band immediately plays a great rendition of "Sailn' On" with yet antoher amazing solo from Dr. Know. FVK and At the movies follow, the former clocks in at exaclty 1 minute and 1 seconds, but its a great song, one of their best. At the movies follows, with H.R. switching from a machine gun-like rat-a-tat-tat to his trademark hardcore scream, followed by yes you guessed it, another great solo, and then the band going from a simmer to a boil for the end of the track. At this point the crowd can't enoough, and the band switches gears again for Revolution, another excellent reggae song. The best part of any Bad Brains reggae track is the interplay between Darryl and Paul, and H.R. gets to show off his versatility once more.
Pay to Cum, a classic to say the least, is next. H.R. is amazing, and this track shows how great Bad Brains really are/were. They play so fast and untamed, yet they never miss a beat. Big Takeover is the last track. As Paul's drums slowly start, Dr. Know does some crazy Eddie Van Halen impression during the intro. Then, it starts- the beginning of the end. It's the last track and a perfect way to end the show. Even though its the last song of the night, Bad Brains sound like they could go on forever.
The best live albums make you wish that you were there, and this one is no exception. All the songs are amazing. For diehard fans and newcomers alike, this album is a must have. The band's palying is always tight, perfect regardless if it's one their hardcore classics or a reggae jam praising the works of Jah. I honestly can't say enough about how talented these four guys are. Most of the music being made nowadays is complete *** in comparison to what these guys did. Bad Brains always amaze me every time I listen.
"BAD BRAINS ARE FOR REAL"- Ira Kaplan