BAD BRAINS: Rock for Light: LP

Jan 21, 2022

Bad Brains second album (their first to debut on vinyl) is back in the hands of the band, back on vinyl with the original mix reinstated, and absent the additional fuckery that plagued the version most readily available over the past two decades. Its strengths (the spirited performances of songs that are much more challenging and complex than might be readily apparent at first blush) and weaknesses (producer Ric Ocasek’s overly clean, thin production that lacks the punch of the immediately preceding I and I Survive EP, which had superior mixes of the three songs it shares with this album) are still very much at play, mainly in that the ferocity and sincerity of the former surpass the limitations of the latter. Forty years on, it’s still abundantly clear why this band wielded, and continues to wield, such a huge influence on damned near everyone—this benefits from being of a time when the band, and many others, lived and breathed the idea that “punk” could be a bona fide alternative to the bleak reality of an ever-stifling American reality and that sincerity bleeds through every second of sound here, be it the zippy howl of “Joshua’s Song” or the less manic reggae delivery of “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth.” Brutal, beautiful, and brilliant it remains. –Jimmy Alvarado (Bad Brains, badbrainsrecords.com)

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