June 27, 1995 in Features

Bad Brains Begins Lifelong Mission Again

Joe Ehrbar Correspondent

Now that punk rock is the soup du jour, several of the ‘80s hardcore/ punk bands - Bad Brains, Circle Jerks and Fear - are reuniting. Some have even signed to major labels.

Are these bands regrouping because they feel entitled to their share of fame and fortune that bands like Green Day, Rancid and the Offspring have been accumulating? (After all, the musicians of bands like Bad Brains would be lying if they said they weren’t influenced in some way by their elder statesmen.)

Or, do they believe that these larger audiences are finally ready to hear the politically charged, socially conscious music they spawned during the ‘80s?

According to the magazine Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll, one of the nation’s foremost punk rock voices, it’s the money. The magazine condemns signing to major labels and selling out.

For Bad Brains, which plays at Outback Jack’s on Thursday night, reuniting wasn’t driven by financial motivations.

“Ultimately, being in Bad Brains is like being part of a lifelong mission that stops and starts, depending on the needs of the world,” drummer Daryl Jenifer recently told Billboard magazine. “We did not come together out of financial need or a desire for attention. The current state of the world is what inspired us to reconnect. It was time for the mission to begin again.”

Bad Brains began its mission - spreading a positive musical vibration through swiftly played, cathartic punk rock - in Washington, D.C., in 1979.

After recording the long out-ofprint single, “Pay to Cum,” which can still be found on various bootlegs, Bad Brains inaugurated a new era of punk rock: hardcore.

Hardcore became the blueprint that many bands followed during the 1980s.

But it wasn’t just for wielding an aggressive, sonically bruising style that won Bad Brains respect. The group, led by Rastafarian singer HR (Human Rights), also stirred a rootsy blend of reggae into the mix.

The pairing was, indeed, an odd one, melding the most volatile music with the most mellow music. But it worked.

It’s a sound that continues to flourish on the band’s new album, “God of Love,” released May 9.

The albums “I Against I” and “Rock for Light” stand as the foursome’s most critically acclaimed works. In the July issue of Alternative Press, the magazine ranks “I Against I” as the ninth-best album out of 100 recorded in the last 10 years.

HR left Bad Brains during the late ‘80s to pursue a solo career. Two years ago, the band replaced him with a new singer, signed to Epic, released “Rise” and went on tour. However, fans didn’t want to hear another singer sing HR’s songs. It was like spitting on sacred ground.

HR rejoined the band last year. Bad Brain’s sixth full-length album “God of Love,” available on Maverick/Warner Bros., was the result of the collaboration.

The Fumes open the show Thursday night. Other opening bands weren’t made available at press time.

Music starts at 9 p.m. Cover is $7.

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