Bad Brains

Rating: NNNNN Throughout American Hardcore, the new Paul Rachman and Steven Blush feature-length documentary, the scene's leading lights proclaim the Bad.


Rating: NNNNN


Throughout American Hardcore, the new Paul Rachman and Steven Blush feature-length documentary, the scene’s leading lights proclaim the Bad Brains’ performance pre-eminence and wax philosophic about how seeing the DC crew thrashing with savage precision changed their lives. Unfortunately, the three-second clips of the Bad Brains onstage in American Hardcore do little to back up these lofty claims.

Well, the Live At CBGB 1982 DVD (out Tuesday) delivers the supporting evidence. A two-camera shoot over three nights at New York’s dingy Bowery hangout during the Christmas holiday in 1982 captures the cataclysmic blast of Darryl Jenifer, Earl Hudson, Dr. Know and the fire-spitting H.R. at the peak of their awesome powers, and it’s an exhilarating sight to behold.

From the first note of Big Take Over, it’s total mayhem, and the enthusiastically moshing crowd of stubble-headed punks look as though they’re re-enacting the brutal battle scenes from Braveheart on each explosive tune. Performances culled from three nights’ worth of footage give a balanced overview of all the Bad Brains’ best stuff, including Attitude, Banned In DC, Coptic Times, How Low Can A Punk Get? and the classic closer Pay To Cum. It’s 60 minutes of full-colour onslaught. Other than a few goofy interviews with audience members, there’s no real bonus footage, but when you’ve got the hardcore version of Live At The Apollo, everything else is superfluous.

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