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Friday, May 10, 2013

Bad Brains: Live At CBGB 1982

BAD BRAINS: LIVE AT CBGB 1982 (1982/2006)

1) Big Takeover; 2) I; 3) Jah The Conqueror; 4) Supertouch/Shitfit; 5) Rally Round Ja's Throne; 6) Right Brigade; 7) FVK; 8) I And I Survive; 9) Destroy Babylon; 10) Joshua's Song; 11) Unity Dub; 12) The Meek; 13) Banned In D.C.; 14) How Low Can A Punk Get; 15) Riot Squad; 16) I And I Rasta; 17) We Will Not; 18) The Regulator; 19) All Rise To Meet Jah.

And, I suppose, a representative account of Bad Brains would not be quite complete without a few words on this archive release — the only official live album that captures Bad Brains at their glory day peak, sometime in December 1982, playing their guts out to an enthusiastic CBGB crowd with Rock For Light still to come and the unfortunate metallic reinvention of I And I still way beyond the horizon.

The immediate bad news is that the sound quality, particularly on the hardcore ultra-fast stuff (the reggae grooves end up a little less blurry) is abysmal. Allegedly, the recording was pro­fessional, since Bad Brains were also captured on several cameras that evening — the official re­lease is doubly precious, since it comes in both audio and video form. But either they used really cheap audio equipment, or the mikes were set up all wrong, in any case, the sound is so seriously messy that I would never have guessed on my own that it did not originate from an «audience quality» bootleg tape. So heed this warning.

The other news is that there are no news — as I already said in the review of Live, at their most revved up, Bad Brains offer little difference between the psychopathic thunderstorm in the studio and the psychopathic thunderstorm on stage. Watching the spectacle is an entirely different matter, although not necessarily a pleasant one (I, for one, would definitely not want to find myself at CBGB on that particular evening, judging by the erratic behaviour of some of the audience) — but listening to it post-factum in garbage-pail sound quality is sort of superfluous, at best.

You do get to hear them play more classic super-fast shit and more of their good reggae numbers than on any other live release, and there are a few tracks here that did not make it on any studio record, either (mostly also reggae stuff like ʽJah The Conquerorʼ). But these are tasty bits for big fans: overall, Live At CBGB is more of an important historical document — and, for some people, also a potential energy / vitality-charged battery, if they get it together with the ac­com­panying DVD. As a piece of music, it is nearly worthless; as a source of inspiration for those who agree that H.R. and Dr. Know did embody the genuine spirit of 1982 — it may be priceless.

Check "Live At CBGB 1982" (CD) on Amazon
Check "Live At CBGB 1982" (MP3) on Amazon

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