Album Reviews of the 80s

This page currently edited by: No One. Past editor: Vapor Trails, Rock 'n' Roll Fan

Bad Brains, "I Against I" / 1986 Review by: ?
In 1983 Cars frontman Rick Ocasek produced an album by DC hardcore band Bad Brains that did something truly singular. Mix true roots reggae with the most (musically) extreme form of punk to date: hardcore. That album was called "Rock for Light" and it really was revolutionary. Neither The Police nor The Clash played authentic reggae, so they don't count for our purposes.

In 1986 Bad Brains, a quartet of Rastafarians who ruled the underground hardcore scene since 1980, released "I Against I", by far one of the most sublimely perfect albums I've ever heard. While not as harsh as earlier hardcore, it contains masterpieces of start and stop on a dime musicianship, growling vocals and speed faster than Metallica. "I Against I" , "House Of Suffering" and "Let me Help" fit into this category. More funk/ rock oriented are "She's Calling You" and "Sacred Love", the latter's vocals recorded through a telephone with HR, the singer, really sitting in jail. Or so the story goes. The reggae rock of "Secret 77" is my favorite song here and it's an example of the perfection that pervades this album.

Lyrically, this is a standard BB album. Using aggressive musical styles to deliver constructive (their term is positive), uplifing messages has always set apart this band. While other bands in this genre obsess with death and violence, the Brains emphasize life and an opposition to violence. This may sound contradictory, but then, the Bad Brains are a contradiction themselves, and the concept works. The Biblical references abound left and right and the odes to Jah are countless.

This is the best introduction to Bad Brains and the whole genre of hardcore and all of its offshoots.

Rating 5 of 5.

We also have pages on this topic devoted to the 70s and 90s

Do You Have a Review to Share?

Please check out the submission page.