Banger of the Week: Bad Brains – Sailin’ On

Pioneers of hardcore punk Bad Brains are well above every Banger to date.  They’re on the Mount Rushmore of punk.  From ’76, they formed as a Jazz fusion band but fell in love with Sex Pistols and punk at the same time they fell for reggae and Bob Marley.  They changed their name from Mind Power to Bad Brains in the switch from jazz to punk and proceeded to put out a few of the best hardcore punk albums of all time.

The musicality set them head and shoulders above their contemporaries.  Clean, crisp tempo changes, emphatic guitar solos (as in “Banned in D.C.)”, and frenetic vocals skipping through various ranges, but, then, slamming the brakes on everything and dropping into pure reggae (“Jah Calling”). 
Nearly 40 years of history, and now honored with Banger of the Week, a career made.
Three snare taps and off it goes.  A ripping punk track; vocals tearing a bit pushed hard out of the gate to lament a break up and into the chorus of an inevitable philosopgy: “So I’m sailin, yeah i’m sailin on / movin’, yeah I’m movin’ on / Sail on, Sail on, Sail on, Sail on.”  The song is about never giving up, admitting that life is tough, and before you know it, (accept it?) it’s gone.  The lyrics are lost in the crush of sound with only the chorus rising to intelligiblility, but when the solo hits, you know that something so simple and meaningful has revealed itself.   It’s hardcore underpinned by musical talent and tempered with establishment angst before it was cool.

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