Welcome to a brand new feature of Killing The Legacy, in 2015 we’ll make lots of more action happen here and hopefully put out a record of two, who knows! I’ve been working on a idea to include some guest posts for a while and finally we’re going to feature the first edition of “What Makes Us Tick”. Idea is that i asked some of my friends, fellow writers & band members etc. to make a write up for a record, that has made a huge impression to them. I give a lot gratitude to Andrew for this, since this kind of a version of his new site, No Echo‘s sections “In The Beginning” and “Albums We Love”. I really hope you find these posts as interesting as i do.
First What Makes Us Tick guest is Olli Hänninen. You might know this guy from old Turku hardcore bands such as; Hate Unit and Confirmed Kill. These days he is doing his thing with Ronskibiitti and he is also a world famous skwee lord, Claws Costeau. Let’s hear what the guy has to say about…
At some point in the early 90’s I bought Bad Brains 3rd studio album I Against I from the used CD section of a local record store Kane Records in Turku, Finland. I was a greasy haired indie- and alternative music fan in a flannel lumberjack coat and 12 holed Getta Grip combat boots, slowly turning back towards “harder” music after the shame of 80’s hair-metal haze started to settle down a little. That time I was drawn towards punk and hardcore, but the love for 80’s thrash-metal would re-flame later on when it wasn’t such a taboo anymore. Bad Brains was not a completely new acquaintance. It was familiar from the pages of late 80’s skateboard magazines and even from MTV’s Headbangers Ball. There was always something very intriguing in this group of four African-American Rastafarians who, as if the world would have sidetracked for a second, had chosen to play music in a fairly Caucasian way: hard and heavy. Being a somewhat voluntary victim of the late 80’s funk-metal craze listening to Faith No More, Suicidal Tendencies, Fishbone, Living Colour and of course The Red Hot Chili Peppers it was actually weird that I hadn’t really listened to Bad Brains before I bought that Instant Records German CD issue. It was a game changer for sure though.
The very intro of the record already promised something spectacular. At the same time hard and groovy, threatening and soulful. As the intro slipped into the title track it left no questions. This album was what my life had been lacking so far. It shamelessly combined things I for some unexplained reason held dear: hard, alternative music and Afro-American youth culture with a flavor of Jamaican roots-reggae and dancehall vibrations. Even though the sound and production of Ron St. Germain may not have stood most gloriously the test of time they are still a crucial part of the record and what makes it so magical. The remarkable and original style of musicianship and the captured emotions wouldn’t be the same without the thin guitar sounds and that horrible reverb on the snare drum. So in this case I’d have to say: fuck a re-master. The only thing that made me uncomfortable listening to the record was the freaky sounding and out of tuned vocals on Sacred Love. I’ve grown to forgive it as I learned the reason later on reading The Dance Of Days by Mark Andersen and Mark Jenkins: One can’t really record perfect vocals through telephone while locked up on drug charges.
If I had to pick a favorite track out of the record it would be Re-ignition. The guitar riff on this slower mid-tempo jam is in all its simplicity pure genius and the heavily reggae influenced vocals are haunting and fateful. Crushing breakdowns of the song really kills it. Re-ignition is a schoolbook example of what it is to be chill, cool and relaxed but at the same time being hard, cold and fatal. (In this analog cool and cold are each other’s antithesis.)
When it comes to American hardcore music, in my books Washington D.C. is winning. Even though New York, Boston and Cleveland have a special place in my dark and scarred tough-guy heart, the loving, emotional and liberal hippie side of me hands the trophy to D.C., the birthplace of the straight edge movement, Dischord Records, Minor Threat and Bad Brains. During the times of Quickness Bad Brains was accused of being anti-gay and homophobic. They lost a lot of love in their politically correct hometown. As a basic snot-faced bozo from northern Europe I know and feel that their views on said matter rises from cultural differences. Homosexuality was and still is a subject that is strongly being objected in both African-American and Jamaican Rastafarian cultures. Making a fuss about cultural differences is almost as narrow minded as are the views and thoughts of some right wing extremists. I tend to keep a more open mind especially when it comes to music. If I feel the music and enjoy it I let myself do so despite the lyrical content. I don’t care if the gangsta rap I blast is anti-Semitic and sexist or if the Oi! and black metal I occasionally enjoy listening to is a bit suspicious. I don’t let it shape my mind. As a homo sapiens with a fairly functional brain I’m able to tell myself I don’t have to obey musicians or agree with them. I don’t have to hate songs or bands if I don’t share their views. For example I don’t agree with Velvet Undergrounds glamorizing stance on certain intoxicants but it doesn’t prevent it to be one of the most influential bands in the history of modern music in my opinion. At the end of the day it’s all just punk rock anyway so fuck it! That’s why I can say Bad Brains is as it stands the best hardcore band, possibly the best band ever. Paul, Gary, Darryl and Earl: thank you for being my The Beatles.
“The writer is a fat, white straight edge dad who dreams he was a drug dealer from Compton”