Bad Brains (album)
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1996 CD reissue cover
|Studio album by Bad Brains|
|Recorded||August – October 1981
May 16, 1981
|Bad Brains chronology|
|Alternate cover art|
1989 reissue as Attitude: The ROIR Sessions.
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|Spin Alternative Record Guide||8/10|
|The Village Voice||B+|
Bad Brains (also known as The Yellow Tape or Attitude: The ROIR Sessions) is the debut studio album recorded by American hardcore punk/reggae band Bad Brains Recorded in 1981 and released on the cassette-only label ROIR in 1982, many fans refer to it as "The Yellow Tape" because of its yellow packaging, much in the way that the Beatles' self-titled record is often called "The White Album." Though Bad Brains had recorded the 16 song Black Dots album in 1979 and the 5-song Omega Sessions EP in 1980, the ROIR cassette was the band's first release of anything longer than a single.
Background and recording
After being banned from all the major clubs in their hometown of Washington, DC, Bad Brains moved to New York City in 1981. In addition to their regular gigs at CBGB's, the band frequented Jerry Williams' 171-A Studios in Alphabet City. Named for its location between 10th and 11th Streets on Avenue A, 171-A was a 60-foot room with a stage at one end and an elevated sound-proof booth at the other. When the Bad Brains played a gig at 171-A in May 1981, Williams recorded it on reel-to-reel tape. The band liked the sound and returned to 171-A to record between August and October 1981. 12 of the 15 tracks on the album came from these sessions, while "Jah Calling", "Pay to Cum" and "I Luv I Jah", were from Williams' live recording in May.
Bad Brains was originally released in February 1982 in cassette-only format[nb 1] on Reachout International Records (ROIR). The cover art depicts DC's Capitol Building being struck by a bolt of lightning. The original cover art unfolded to include a photo of the band, album credits, lyrics to all the songs, and liner notes by then New York Rocker and Soho News critic Ira Kaplan, who would later front the band Yo La Tengo. Rather than label the tape's sides A/B or one/two, the band designated them Side 1/Side A.
The original edition of the cassette had a white spine on the J-card and a red cassette shell. Subsequent editions had an all-yellow J-card with either red, gold, or green cassette shells, in a nod toward band's Rastafarian leanings. Later versions appeared in solid white, solid orange, and transparent red tape shells. Because the yellow cassette shell was most common and it came in a matching yellow package, many fans referred to it as "The Yellow Tape".
Bad Brains EP
In 1981 the Dead Kennedys' record label Alternative Tentacles opened an office in the United Kingdom to issue special editions of records by American punk bands for the UK market. The single version of the Bad Brains' "Pay to Cum" had appeared on the Alternative Tentacles compilation Let Them Eat Jellybeans! and with the ROIR sessions available, a few songs were selected for a 1982 UK release as a 12" EP. The record's sleeve featured the same lightning-strikes-the-Capitol art that appeared on the ROIR cassette, and the back cover had the inner J-card's band photo, credits, lyrics, and Kaplan's liner notes. The record also mimicked the tape's Sade 1/Side A aesthetic, differing in that one side was reggae and the other hardcore punk, unlike the cassette, which interspersed the two genres. Because Alternative Tentacles UK was a short-lived venture, the Bad Brains EP is rare, and for eight years was the only appearance of these songs on vinyl.
- "I Love I Jah"
- "Sailin' On"
- "The Big Takeover"
Reception and influence
When the album was first released, fans and critics alike were stunned to learn that the musicians behind this album – one of the fastest albums of all time upon its release – were African-American Rastafarians who also were skilled at reggae.
To this day, many people involved in the hardcore scene regard it as one of the greatest hardcore albums of all time and a groundbreaking release for the hardcore punk genre.
Many of the album's tracks were re-recorded for their 1983 follow-up, Rock for Light, with the exception of "Don't Need It", "The Regulator", "Jah Calling", "Leaving Babylon", "Pay to Cum", "I Luv I Jah". The instrumental final track on Bad Brains, titled "Intro", became the first nine seconds of Rock for Light's title song.
- "Leaving Babylon" was covered by Jesse Malin on his covers album, On Your Sleeve; by 311 for their 1999 album Soundsystem; and live by Living Colour and HIM.
- Sublime often performed Bad Brains tunes during live shows. The deluxe edition of their Sublime album included "I Luv I Jah", reworked with different lyrics as "I Love My Dog". The DVD of their Everything Under the Sun also contained a live version of "Leaving Babylon".
- John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers covered "Big Takeover" on his first solo album, Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt. He also covered a short acoustic rendition of "Sailin On'" during a 1989 interview.
- "Sailin' On" was covered by No Doubt for the MOM: Music for Our Mother Ocean album series; by Moby for the Never Give In: A Tribute to Bad Brains (1999, Century Media) tribute album; by Soulfly for the special edition of their album Conquer; by HIM in a live version recorded for the record Uneasy Listening Vol. 2; and live by Living Colour. Hardcore punk band Sailing On were also named for the song.
- "I Luv I Jah" was covered live by Long Beach Dub Allstars, featuring H.R. on vocals; it appeared on their rare 1998 first album, LBDA & Friends.
- "Supertouch/Shitfit" was covered by Hatebreed on their covers album, For the Lions, and was sampled by experimental hip hop group Death Grips on the song "Takyon (Death Yon)" from their mixtape Exmilitary.
- Santigold and Diplo covered "Right Brigade" on their 2008 mixtape Top Ranking: A Diplo Dub.
- "I" was covered by Mark Kozelek on his 2013 covers album, Like Rats, in a stripped down acoustic version highlighting the lyrics.
- "Sailin' On" was covered by Stone Sour on their second 2015 covers EP Straight Outta Burbank...
- "Fearless Vampire Killers" was covered by 88 Fingers Louie on their 1998 Back on the Streets album.
- "Right Brigade" has been regularly performed by the Deftones during their live shows.
Appearances in other media
|2.||"Don't Need It"||1:07|
|5.||"Banned in D.C."||2:12|
|6.||"Jah Calling" (live in studio)||2:31|
|9.||"Fearless Vampire Killers"||1:07|
|11.||"Big Take Over"||2:57|
|12.||"Pay to Cum" (live in studio)||1:25|
|14.||"I Luv I Jah" (live in studio)||6:22|
|1996 CD reissue hidden bonus track|
|16.||"Jah the Conqueror"||2:11|
- H.R. – lead vocals
- Dr. Know – guitar, backing vocals
- Darryl Jenifer – bass, backing vocals
- Earl Hudson – drums, backing vocals
- Jay Dublee – producer, recording, mixing
- Bad Brains – mixing
- Wayne Vlcan – engineer
- Stanley Moskowitz – mastering
- Mir (aka Dave Parsons from Ratcage) – cover art
- Ira Kaplan – liner notes
- Donnell Gibson; Jay Jones – logo design
- Laura Levine – photography
- Neil Cooper – cover concept
- ROIR #A106
- In-Effect #88561-3002-2
- Dutch East India Trading #DEI2001-1
- ROIR #RUSLP 8223
- Prato, Greg. "Bad Brains – Bad Brains". AllMusic. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
- Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 34–35. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
- Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York City: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
- Christgau, Robert (May 4, 1982). "Christgau's Consumer Guide – Bad Brains: Bad Brains (ROIR)". The Village Voice. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
- Harvell, Jess (June 28, 2007). "Bad Brains: Build a Nation". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
- Ellison IV, John (July 4, 2011). "More than Meets the Eye: My Interview with MVP". Ghetto Punk Rocker. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Bad Brains: Artist Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine". AllMusic. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
- Logan, Ben; Stein, Mandy (2012). Bad Brains: A Band in DC (documentary). Plain Jane Productions.
- "171-A Studios in New York: Beastie Boys, Bad Brains". Popturf. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- Blush, Steven (2001). American Hardcore: A Tribal History. Second ed., 2010. Feral House. ISBN 9781932595895.
- Russonello, Giovanni (24 December 2014). "Yo La Tengo: Indie rock’s standard-bearer is still changing the formula, 30 years in". The Washington Post.
- "john frusciante – sailin'on (bad brains cover)". YouTube. 2008-03-30. Retrieved 2012-01-15.
- Bad Brains official site
- ROIR Records official site
- Norton, Justin M. (October 17, 2012). "13 Essential DC Hardcore Albums: Bad Brains – Bad Brains (ROIR, 1982)". Stereogum.