Yo Ho! WeRCatz here!
In 1981, the hardcore punk/reggae band Bad Brains were banned from performing their music in all the clubs in Washington, DC. This required the band to move to New York where they performed at the legendary CBGB’s. They got the attention of Jerry Williams and wound up performing gigs at Williams’ 171-A Studios. Williams like the sound so he recorded a gig that took place on May 16, 1981. Bad Brains like the sound they created so much that they returned to record some sessions between August and October; 12 songs out of the eventual 15 came from these sessions. The end result is the first album Bad Brains released on February 5, 1982 only on cassette tape so sometimes Bad Brains is also known as The Yellow Tape because of the original yellow packaging.
Let’s take a look into some of their pieces:
“Sailing On” starts off the album. It’s a furious song about moving on from life’s problems (e.g. a breakup, growing up). However, life is way too short to solve all solutions.
“Don’t Need It” is about the narrator not needing to conform to social norms to woo a lady (“Don’t need the latest fashions/Don’t want my hair to smell clean”). One’s positivity is all the narrator needs for romance.
“The Regulator” is about how the government and any authoritative figures/institutions control their own people while they win all the money off of them.
“Banned in D.C.” is the story of what Bad Brains did after they got banned to perform in D.C. But the joke is on the clubs and venues because the band can play anywhere and reach fame without them, so the clubs will be ruined as fame surrounds Bad Brains.
“Jah Calling” is a reggae instrumental.
“Fearless Vampire Killers” is about hunting “vampires” in the form of groups who terrorize the common people.
“I Luv I Jah” is a reggae piece about loving Jah, being in peace with other peoples in the world and being cool without fighting.
Bad Brains is a pioneering album that has influenced many performers. This is a worthwhile listen so don’t mind the audio quality!