In today’s music world there are 3 types of people. Those who lived and breathed in the world of the emerging hardcore punk scene, those who wish they had been there, and everyone else. If you don’t fall in that last, and dare I say it, sheltered category, then it is pretty safe to say that you have at least heard of the D.C. area’s hardcore punk icons, Bad Brains. The lead singer, H.R., has had a rough road with the original members, Dr. Know, Darryl Jenifer and his little brother, Earl Hudson…40 years of break ups, replacement singers, musical differences, short reunions, erratic behavior, homelessness, poverty, and his most recent diagnosis of SUNCT, a rare type of headache. His journey does not take away from the plain and simple fact that Bad Brains helped change the face of music in those infantile punk years.

Bad Brains is known for their fusion of hardcore punk and reggae throughout the late 80’s. But as any devoted fan will tell you, that is not where it all began. In the early days when they were banned from the D.C. area clubs and took their world to New York City, before that fateful Bob Marley concert that inspired the remainder of their years, Bad Brains was just beginning their continuous force of energy. H.R.’s psychotic onstage persona mixed with the powerful, hard hitting rock arrangements of his band mates would rip through every venue they booked. Those were the days that inspired H.R.’s latest solo release, Live at CBGB’s 1984.

It is in this album that you can hear the moments that pioneered a movement. Bad Brains broke the barrier of the disco era with a reputation of not only being an entirely black band playing punk rock but also with their insane performances and undeniable talent. This is the first release from H.R. in many years. The days of his vicious attitude and snarling wails may be behind him, but this album pays homage to those early years that catapulted Bad Brains into the face of every punk rocker willing to listen.

The album is available now through Catch A Fire Music. You can preview snippets of the songs there too. If you are like me, then you are reading this wishing you were there to experience it in the flesh. I don’t have a time machine yet, but there are tons of full live Bad Brains concerts available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube just like this one:


You can also check out to find a screening of James Lathos’, Finding Joseph I, near you. A film 10 years in the making about the experience of H.R.

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Extended Plays is an ongoing music series of all the music that I stumble upon. I listen to the music, go with my gut and spill my honest and sometimes brutal opinion all over this blog. I hope you take the time to check out the artists I review for yourselves. I tend to believe that I am always right about everything but the most beautiful thing about music is that my opinion doesn’t matter to anyone but myself.

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