Music » Livewire

Soul Brains

With Vision of Disorder, Candiria, and Vandals Ugainst Alliteracy. Friday, June 22, at the Agora.

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Reunited for the umpteenth time, Bad Brains (now Soul Brains) might have had more chances than they deserve. Since their first, self-titled, cassette-only release in 1982 (recently reissued on CD), the group has simultaneously been one of the most influential and most self-destructive bands in punk. Mixing hardcore with a righteous Rasta determination, Bad Brains lit a fire under the East Coast punk scene. After their 1983 release, Rock for Light, their status as legends of American hardcore was set. That, of course, is when the trouble began. Three years later, they released I Against I, an album with more metal leanings that won them critical acclaim, but alienated their punk fans. Over the next 15 years, Bad Brains released three mediocre albums and broke up more times than Pamela Anderson. Opening for the Beastie Boys in the mid-'90s seemed like their shot to get back in the spotlight. After all, the Beasties always claimed Bad Brains as one of their early influences, so their arena-sized audiences should be primed and ready (they also are one of only a couple of hip-hop groups that's sampled a Bad Brains riff). But no luck for rude boys: Early on that tour, singer HR popped someone in the head with a mic stand and got charged with assault, while guitarist Dr. Know was busted in Canada for drug possession. And again they missed out on a great opportunity. Until now. So sure, Bad Brains haven't put out a good record since 1989's Quickness or maybe even since 1983's Rock for Light. And sure, they'll likely find a way to self-destruct before anything big can happen -- maybe even halfway through the tour.

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