Rock for Light

by: Bad Brains

After the tinny sound quality of the band's debut, the second Bad Brains album came as a real blast of sonic fresh air. Producer Ric Ocasek is largely responsible, but the increased tightness and focus are also a function of maturation. This band was a weird bundle of contradictions from day one: black Rastafarian instrumental virtuosos playing hardcore punk, formerly the exclusive domain of white, aggressively atheist musical amateurs. That last contradiction would come to full musical flower on I Against I, but Rock for Light shows the band at the height of its punk energy. "P.M.A.," "Joshua's Song," and "Coptic Times" are typical examples of Bad Brains' unique blend of punk velocity and Rasta ideology. When they suddenly swing into mellow reggae (on "I and I Survive," "The Meek," "Rally 'Round Jah Throne," and the dubwise instrumental "Jam"), the effect is like some kind of pleasant musical whiplash. The 1990 CD reissue of this album was remixed by Ocasek and bassist Darryl Jenifer, and it includes several bonus tracks. ~ Rick Anderson

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