Everyone that thinks they understand the term "hardcore" needs to view this DVD. Watching Rastacore trailblazers BAD BRAINS destroy CBGB during a series of 1982 performances from a three-day hardcore festival at the legendary venue is downright inspiring. Alternating between frenetic hardcore and mesmerizing reggae beats, vocalist H.R., guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Aaron Jenifer, and drummer Earl Hudson combined to form one of the most unique units in the East Coast hardcore scene, inspiring, entertaining, and destroying everyone exposed to them.
As one would expect, the sound quality on the disc is not top notch, but it is not horrible either. In fact, the clarity is sufficient and the rawness is in many ways appropriate to the untamed energy of the band and venue. In other words, you'll spend so much time in awe over the wild performances that the sound becomes secondary. The picture quality is quite good and the camera work is more than adequate to give one a feel for what it might have been like to soak in the group's powerful aura and take part in a truly close-knit community during a special time in American hardcore history.
And in case you haven't gotten the gist already, it is worth reemphasizing that the quartet's on-stage intensity is beyond belief, fed in part by the rapidly appreciative audience members and an enthusiastic willingness to join the band on stage at every possible opportunity. H.R. does not perform as much as he appears to be in a near state of epileptic seizure, while Dr. Know shreds as only he can, firing off speeding riffs and busting out some of the wildest and toughest solos this side of Gregg Ginn.
All the classic songs are here as well, "Big Take Over", "Attitude", "I", "Pay to Cum", "The Right Brigade", "Banned in D.C." to name just a handful of the unit's unique and musically accomplished hardcore style. It becomes increasingly obvious by watching the audience reaction that one need not be a fan of reggae to enjoy the spiritual jams of songs like "I and I Rasta", "King of Glory" (with David Hahn assisting on vocals), and "The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth". BAD BRAINS would be one of a select group of hardcore and punk bands to truly demonstrate that links between the two styles, that being music inspired by oppression and the rebellion that comes from those who have been forced to remain silent for too long.
Finally, the extras on this 60-minute DVD do not amount to much. Basically, you get a very short section of fan interviews and a bonus audio track for "I and I Survive". It matters little though, as all you need is this wonderful opportunity to experience the fire and passion of these CBGB performances from a very important and groundbreaking band. One might be tempted to give this a lower rating, based on the disc not meeting today's audio and video standards, but the messages conveyed here transcends sight and sound.