Twenty-five years ago, the Bad Brains created hardcore. Not too shabby for a self-described reggae group. Twenty-five years later, the band is back together for some reason, doing their very best to completely destroy their legacy.
Living in a complete vacuum, I had no idea that the Bad Brains had been put back on the rails. You'd think this turn of events would be a cause for celebration, but you'd be wrong. First, what is the deal with calling the band "Soul Brains"? Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is the original Bad Brains lineup playing Bad Brains songs, yes? This is the Bad Brains. End of discussion. Soul Brains isn't even an appropriate moniker, as all the soul has been sucked out of this band; shit, even Autechre has more soul than this!
I'm not real sure what I expected from this release, as the Bad Brains, with all their abrupt stops and starts, have been running on fumes since about 1988. Any post-1988 material the band has deemed fit to release has been bloodless. (Christ, remember when H.R. wasn't even in the band?! Me, I'd like to forget, though getting rid of H.R. again might not be such a bad idea, as his voice is absolutely shot..."Pay to Cum" sounds especially ragged here). All the passion is gone, and this CD makes me want to throw out all those other Bad Brains albums that gave me such joy as a teenager.
Worst of all, this CD sounds like shit. It has that nasty compressed MP3 sound, which means it sounds like you're listening to rock music inside of a tiny tin can. I actually had to study the underside of the CD for a few minutes to make sure it wasn't a CD-R, which might have explained the lousy sound.
Sweet mother of fudge, I'd rather listen to No Doubt play "Sailin' On" for all eternity than listen to this! I'd gladly give this CD a rating of negative one if I could, 'cos this disc is so bad that it's off the charts. This CD saddens me. There are at least three other official Bad Brains live releases more worthy of your time and dime, so ignore this nonsense and pick up The Youth Are Getting Restless (which has a curiously similar set list anyway) instead. You'll be glad you did. And may Jah have mercy on the souls of Soul Brains for committing this latest crime of mediocrity. I can only hope that these fallow fellows will one day be reformed.