Sunday, January 10, 2016

Punk Music, Hardcore Punk, & The Black Punk Music Band "Bad Brains"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part series on the Bad Brains band.

This post provides general information about the Punk music genre and its sub-genre Hardcore Punk. This post also provides information about the hardcore Punk band Bad Brains.

Part II of this series showcases a performance of Bad Brains' now classic 1986 song "I Against I".

This post is part of an ongoing series on AfroPunk music & fashion. Click the "AfroPunk music" tab below for other posts in this series.

The content of this post is presented for historical and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

"Punk rock (or simply punk) is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. Punk bands typically use short or fast-paced songs, with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produced recordings and distributed them through informal channels.

The term "punk" was first used in relation to rock music by some American critics in the early 1970s, to describe garage bands and their devotees. By late 1976, bands such as the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Damned in London, and Television, Patti Smith, and the Ramones in New York City were recognized as the vanguard of a new musical movement. The following year saw punk rock spreading around the world, and it became a major cultural phenomenon in the United Kingdom. For the most part, punk took root in local scenes that tended to reject association with the mainstream. Though originally more diverse and accepting, it evolved to create an “angry white male” punk stereotype with a “color blind” attitude.[1] An associated punk subculture emerged, expressing youthful rebellion and characterized by distinctive styles of clothing and adornment (ranging from deliberately offensive T-shirts, leather jackets, spike bands and other studded or spiked jewelry to bondage and S&M clothes) and a variety of anti-authoritarian ideologies.

By the beginning of the 1980s, faster, more aggressive styles such as hardcore (e.g. Black Flag) and Oi! (e.g. Cock Sparrer), as well as crossover thrash (e.g. Suicidal Tendencies), had become the predominant mode of punk rock. Musicians identifying with or inspired by punk also pursued a broad range of other variations, giving rise to post-punk and the alternative rock movement. At the end of the 20th century, punk rock had been adopted by the mainstream, as pop punk and punk rock bands such as Green Day, Rancid, Sublime, the Offspring and Blink-182 brought the genre widespread popularity."

"Hardcore punk (often referred to simply as hardcore) is a punk rock music genre and subculture that originated in the late 1970s. Hardcore punk music is generally faster, heavier, and more abrasive than regular punk rock.[8] The origin of the term "hardcore punk" is uncertain. The Vancouver-based band D.O.A. may have helped to popularize the term with the title of their 1981 album, Hardcore '81.[9][10] Hardcore historian Steven Blush said that the term "hardcore" is also a reference to the sense of being "fed up" with the existing punk and new wave music.[11] Blush also states that the term refers to "an extreme: the absolute most Punk."[12]

The roots of hardcore can be traced back to San Francisco and Southern California.[7] The former arose as a reaction against the dominant hippie scene and was inspired by the New York punk rock and the early protopunk scene. New York punk rock had a harder-edged sound than its San Francisco counterpart, featuring anti-art expressions of masculine anger, energy and subversive humor. Hardcore punk generally disavows commercialism, the major music industry and "anything similar to the characteristics of mainstream rock"[13] and deals with social and political subjects...

It [Hardcore] has influenced a number of music genres which have experienced mainstream success, such as alternative rock, grunge, alternative metal, metalcore, thrash metal, post-hardcore and certain elements[citation needed] of hip hop."...

"Bad Brains are an American hardcore punk band formed in Washington, D.C., in 1977. They are widely regarded as among the pioneers of hardcore punk,[1][2][3] though the band's members have objected to this term to describe their music.[4] They are also an adept reggae band, while later recordings featured elements of other genres like funk,[5] heavy metal,[1] hip hop and soul.[5] Bad Brains are followers of the Rastafari movement.[5]

Originally formed as a jazz fusion ensemble under the name Mind Power,[5] Bad Brains developed a very fast and intense punk rock sound which came to be labeled "hardcore", and was often played faster and more emphatically than the music of many of their peers. The unique factor of the band's music was the fact that they played more complex rhythms than other hardcore punk bands, also adapting non-punk style guitar riffs and solos into their songs.

Bad Brains have released nine studio albums (one of which is entirely composed of instrumental versions of their past material). The band broke up and reformed several times over the years, sometimes with different singers or drummers. Since 1998, the lineup of singer H.R. (Human Rights), guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Jenifer, and drummer Earl Hudson (H.R.'s younger brother) has reunited, albeit performing sporadically
The band was first founded in 1976 as a jazz fusion ensemble called Mind Power[5] in the mold of bands such as Chick Corea's Return to Forever and John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra as well as R&B musician Stevie Wonder. In 1977, their friend Sid McCray introduced the band, who were already interested in bands such as Black Sabbath, to punk rock, including the Dickies, the Dead Boys, and the Sex Pistols. Mind Power became obsessed with punk rock and changed their name to "Bad Brains",[5] after the Ramones song "Bad Brain", but with the word "bad" in the sense of "good".[5] Despite their burgeoning punk sound, the early Bad Brains, after seeing Bob Marley in concert, also delved deep into reggae music and the Rastafari movement.[6] Sid McCray became their first singer but left in the early days of the group's hardcore punk era, and guitarist H.R. became the band's new singer.[7]

The band developed an early reputation in Washington D.C., due in part to the relative novelty of an entirely black band playing punk rock, but also due to their high-energy performances and undeniable talent.[6]"...

This concludes Part I of this series.

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1 comment:

  1. My introduction to AfroPunk occurred less than a week ago by way of an internet discussion about the AfroPunk festival -a festival I had previously known nothing about. After some video viewing and internet reading I decided that this pancocojams blog which focuses on African American and other Black music and dance should include posts on AfroPunk music.

    In my research for this series of posts it seems to me that most websites only focus on the fashions worn by attendees of Brooklyn, New York's AfroPunk festival (and in doing so mostly show photographs of that fashion with little to no descriptive information or comments.) I intend to publish pancocojams posts about AfroPunk fashion, but I believe that subject should be secondary to information and comments about the history of and the current condition of and attitudes toward AfroPunk music.