Bad Brains – Rock for Light

Today’s album is from 1983, and was actually an album that occurred right before band broke up-well, the 1st time the band broke up anyway.  From Washington DC….

Bad Brains – Rock for Light

Listen to it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Bad+Brains+Rock+For+Light/70061330

Read about the band here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Brains#Discography
One year Ago: It appears RC was on a temporary week break or so…

Fun Facts:  Rock for Light is the second official full-length album by hardcore punk pioneers Bad Brains. It was produced by Ric Ocasek of The Cars. The 1991 re-issue was remixed by Ocasek and bass player Darryl Jenifer.

Ali:

Bad Brains – Rock for Light
Preconceptions:
I think I may have heard of them before. Metal?

Mood:
Good.

After Listening:
Huh. Well… That was a little strange. The voice was super young and I’m not sure how to react to it. The tempo and tunes are fun, but I don’t understand any of the words. So… Hopefully I’m not liking something that is a manifesto declaring a bunch of people should die.

Favorite track/tracks:
I And I Survive – Wait… WTF? I mean… I like it, but this sounds like a completely different band and I’m listening to a mix tape that I found at a tag sale. Eventually I expect “You’re Listening to Ted’s Boner Jamz. I’m your host Ted. We mixed it up with a little light reggae but we’re going to bring it back to F*ckTown with some Gwar.”

Least favorite track/tracks:
I don’t know. Honestly. I wasn’t in the right mindset to listen to this. I can’t really pick out any of the songs. I just looked at the clock and have NO IDEA where the time went.

Overall (1-5 stars):  4
(I liked it… I just cannot for the life of me tell you why.)

Chris:

Bad Brains – Pretty Good, for what it is.   3.75

Josh:

Bad Brains – Rock for Light: 5 stars

Precon: My pick and one of my favorite albums. A while ago I realized that all these bands I liked were heavily influenced by the Bad Brains so I bought this cd and was like oh that’s why. Purists might prefer their first album since it has many of the same songs, not to mention the tracks are remixed and reordered on this version of Rock for Light, but man do I love this album, even if it is the glossy Bad Brains.

Favorite Track: Sailin On
Least Favorite: How Low Can a Punk Get

Supposedly you had to see Bad Brains live. So if a cd can’t begin to do them justice and I still find it super impressive, then the Grooveshark version is still good even if it’s not doing the cd justice.
HR’s vocals are amazing on here. There’s never been anyone quite like him.
That first reggae number always throws people for a loop. One of the reasons I like this version of the album is the equidistant spacing of the reggae tracks at 5, 10 and 15. Maybe I shouldn’t let OCD influence my musical taste.
Not much else to say. I’m not a huge hardcore punk fan, but I think this album is a classic. Kind of a strange mix with the punk and the reggae, but it works for me. I wish I could have seen them back in the day. There’s a documentary on them that was years in the making and just debuted at SXSW this year (2012). Hopefully it’s available soon.

Marissa:

Bad Brains – Rock For Light

Preconceived Notions:  I couldn’t pull the trigger on listening to this on Tuesday, I just didn’t have it in me.  It’s Friday now, so I figure, what have I got to lose?  Never listened before, but the name of the band alone is something I probably would walk past in the record store.

Wait…there are 19 tracks?

What’s with the random reggae in the middle on “I And I Survive?” is that normal or a glitch in the system?
I think if I cared more about actually trying to learn to play guitar I would care more about this.
I guess it was on purpose because we get another dose on “The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth”.  I’m so thoroughly confused (and slightly entertained) by this record.  It makes no sense in my brain right now.  You know how sometimes some trainer or runner friend might have told you that what you really need to do is run kinda hard for like 2 minutes and walk for 5 and repeat that cycle for a while to make condition your heart and lungs?  That’s what I feel like this album is doing to my brain.  It’s a stint of running and walking.  I do like that kind of change of pace and it makes for an interesting listen.  I’m just not sure that I particularly care for the actual running part or the walking part.
I like that literally the last 20 seconds of “Sailin’ On” reminded me of Chicago’s “Colour My World”
I can actually understand some of the lyrics to “At The Movies” It could also be that the title predisposed me to being more accepting of this song.

After listening:  I have absolutely no idea what to make of this album really.  For someone who’s never listened before, it’s all over the place.  It wasn’t a horrible listening experience, and it definitely kept me unbalanced enough to want to stick with it to see what was waiting around the corner, but on the whole, I just don’t think I’ll ever be converted to a hardcore punk fan.  I know this is a shocking statement, but it’s one that must be made.  It’s mostly about the vocal style.  I think I could handle the music on its own, but the strained vocal chords and the rushed delivery just make me cringe a bit every time.  I also turn into an old, tan lady from Florida with slightly purplish hair who says things like “THIS isn’t music” when she gets back into her Buick after her grandson’s been driving it.  I’m sure these guys have millions of fans, and adoring ones at that and I’m not debating their influence, it’s just not something I’d pick up of my own free will.  I’m glad I listened, but I can’t guarantee that will happen much more often after today.  Still, I liked it better than some of the other of its ilk that we’ve listened to.

Overall: 3.2

Favorite Song: At The Movies
Least Favorite: Right Brigade/Riot Squad

Mike:

Preconceived Notions:  Growing up as a thrash metal fan there were certain hardcore acts that were beyond reproach – albeit most of them were seen as a laughing stock – not quite punk, and not heavy enough for metal – most of my peers thought hardcore represented a waste of time. Bad Brains however, had a reputation as being one of those rarified acts above the fray – now personally, I know I’ve heard them before, but they made zero impression on me…and the only thing I know about them really is their reputation as hardcore’s forefathers.

After Listening:  The weird thing about this album, is that if you dropped the reggae elements and recorded it on late 80’s technology, instead of early 80’s technology I might have grown up listening to this. It certainly has all the aggression and energy that’s a prerequisite for heavy music.  And garbled vocals?  Yep we got those too- in abundance. Not that this is always a bad thing.  The singer does shift his deliveries at least to break it all up-however what exactly he is spouting is a mystery without the lyric sheet at least half of the time.  Attitude is the theme for the band, at least on this album – and it’s clear the music is more about the feel, than about the substance.  The reggae elements here could’ve been welcome as a change of pace – but they linger far too long in their moments and aren’t particularly inventive.    The lack of bass on the album’s mix is noticeable and one wonders how much “heavier” things would’ve sounded with its inclusion – certainly we would’ve had a more full palate.

Favorite Tracks:  How Low can a punk get – There’s a killer riff here, really pernicious.
Destroy Babylon – Again, damn that guitar riff is an absolute monster.  Complete with a mini breakdown.  Wow.
Least Favorite:  I and I Survive – A 5 min bland reggae jam in the middle of this?  Pass.

Overall 3.757  I can see why Bad Brains gets the honored respect from pardon the pun, even the most hardcore of heavy music lovers.  There are a lot of really great guitar riffs on this record.  Unfortunately, b/c of the hardcore/punk format we don’t get them nearly long enough, nor do we get them properly explored.  This leaves me with an appetite to want more after most tracks, and while that may have been an intentioned goal…too many tracks of this start to sour the experience from tantalizing to frustrating.  Then there’s the awful mixing, which even though it’s a product of the time-and understandable, adds another negative note to the thing.  So Bad Brains gets points for being genre forerunners, and earning mutual respect with nice flashes…but personally is capped out for me at a point due to stylistic choices.

Seth:

Bad Brains – Rock For Light

Preconceived Notions: It’s Bad Brains, dude. You know, the punks who found Jah and said some effed up things about the gay that made MDC super mad. This was early on in the Jah, I believe.

After listening: Pure, economical punk rock, with a few pedestrian reggae tracks.

Favorite Song: Riot Squad is my second favorite song named Riot Squad. We Will Not is the contrarian punk ethos as explained by a Sesame Street muppet.
Least Favorite: One of the interesting things about Bad Brains is how they can switch gears and produce credible reggae songs. Rally Round Jah Throne is not one of them.

Overall: The homophobia scandal (see below) turned me off of Bad Brains in the 1980s, but I can’t deny their talent and their influence on numerous genres of music.

Rating: 4.1

Bad Brains vs. Big Boys & M.D.C During the summer of 1982 MDC became involved in the Rock Against Reagan Tour, during which time they fell out with the band Bad Brains when Rastafarian singer H.R. learned that Big Boys’ singer, Randy Turner, was gay. H.R. and MDC’s Dave Dictor had an intense confrontation. Upon Bad Brains’ departure from the bill, they refused to return a loan owed to Big Boys and instead left a note that reportedly read, “burn in hell bloodclot fggot.” The incident resulted in the MDC song Pay to Come Along.

Bad Brains has since rethought their views:
“We were over-zealous in our views about homosexuality, due to our ignorance, and the fact that we hadn’t matured to a certain level. Just like anyone getting into anything. Every member of The Bad Brains are loving and we have nothing against any of god’s creatures. In our growth and in trying to become wise and see life for what it is, without judgment, we went through a time where we did judge… So when you’re coming in as a young Rasta and discovering it, just like in Christianity, homosexuality isn’t accepted… But if you still continue to study and mature you’ll find other texts that say, “love all god’s creatures.”

admin (196 Posts)

Record Club began in the cold, dank, snowmageddon scene that was New England of January 2011. We’re probably no different than you. We all work in cubicles, some in smaller, less private cubicles than others; that just means we have to be even sneakier about how we listen to our music. But we have to listen to our music, mostly as a way of saving our own personal sanity. Sometimes our opinions lead us to debates that may or may not be published in their entirety on this site, but I can promise you’ll at least get a glimpse of the way our minds work. The main goal is to find new music we like or find old music that we didn’t know we liked. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes it’s a total and complete disaster. After our ears have rejoiced or stopped bleeding we try something else. This is our pattern, every Tuesday and Thursday. Sometimes, when the club isn’t officially in session, just to keep everyone on their toes, we throw in a theme day. We’re beginning to run low on our original list, so please, if you have albums that you’d like us to review or themes that you’d like to see our playlist of, feel free to contribute. After all, we’re all in this together once we punch the time clock. So if you’re busy (or just plain bored) lurking in your cubicle as you read this join in. After all, life wasn’t meant to be lived staring at a computer screen. I guarantee you, it’s at least more fun when you plug the headphones in.


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