Bad Brains – Stevenage Bowes Lyon House – 08/05/83

Bad Brains performance

Indebted to Grant Dow for sending me this performance by the mighty Bad Brains performing on the weekly Sunday night punk nights at Stevenage Bowes Lyon House back in the summer of 1983.

A minority of the audience, as you might expect from a small town like Stevenage with the local boneheads that would show up most weeks, make the Bad Brains work for there bread on this particular night, but it all turns out for the best in the end and the band put on a blinding performance.

A slightly muddy sound on Grant’s personally recorded cassette, but gold dust never the less for the many Bad Brains supporters that may be browsing this site. As far as I am aware this cassette has not been aired anywhere else so glad that this site gets to upload this bit of rare and early Bad Brains UK tour aural history.

Dedicate this post to Jay Vee. A load more Bad Brains material on this site if you care to use the search function.

Text below ripped from

The members of Bad Brains started out playing ’70s jazz-rock fusion, but took a sharp turn when they began breaking up their live sets into reggae and punk. Together with Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys, the band became pioneers of punk’s hardcore fringe, influencing nearly every subsequent hardcore or quasi-hardcore outfit, including the earliest incarnation of the Beastie Boys. As an all-black rock band, they also inspired Living Colour and the entire New York City Black Rock Coalition of the ’80s.

By 1977 guitarist Gary Miller (a.k.a. Dr. Know) had grown tired of his fusion noodling and looked to the Sex Pistols and Bob Marley for fresh inspiration. He and his mates viewed punk and reggae as complementary (both musically and politically) and believed that if punk and reggae acts could share the same stages in the U.K. they could share one band’s set list in the U.S.

Bad Brains’ single “Pay to Cum” remains a classic of the hardcore genre. Unfortunately, the band’s music was never well documented on record; “Pay to Cum” was available only in its rare single form and on the band’s self-titled ROIR cassette (since reissued on LP and CD). Ric Ocasek produced 1983’s Rock for Light, which mingled two reggae tracks amidst the hardcore.

The long-awaited I Against I was an all-rock explosion, leaning more toward heavy metal than punk. It left the band fragmented, with HR and Earl Hudson wanting to do more reggae and Dr. Know and Darryl Jenifer preferring the new hard-rock direction. After years of coming and going, both HR and Hudson left again in 1989 (the two have recorded several reggae albums under HR’s name since 1985’s It’s About Luv on Olive Tree). Chuck Mosely of Faith No More briefly assumed vocals but appeared on no albums. Bad Brains recruited Trinidadian-born singer Israel Joseph-I and Mackie Jayson on drums to replace HR and released Rise.

In 1995 HR and Hudson returned and the band released God of Love. That same year, the band was booked to tour with the Beastie Boys and seemed poised to finally reach beyond its lingering cult following. But on the tour’s first night in Montreal, HR brutally attacked manager Anthony Countey and was arrested (he was released later that same night). The band regrouped in time to participate on the tour’s final dates, but HR was arrested on a subsequent club tour after allegedly attacking a fan in Lawrence, Kansas, with a microphone stand (charges were later dropped). Bad Brains split up again, seemingly for good. But in 1999 the quartet reunited once more as the Soul Brains, a name HR reportedly chose to separate the band from the bad vibes of the past. The reunited band toured throughout 2000 and began recording in Woodstock, New York. The dub album I & I Survived, released in 2002, also gave fans a healthy portion of remixed sounds from the band’s ‘80’s history. They subsequently made several appearances at the infamous CBGB’s just before the legendary dive of New York punk history closed on October 15, 2006. The band released the new Build A Nation with the production help of the Beastie Boys Adam Yauch in the summer of 2007.

  1. luggy
    August 12, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Bizarre that the punters were still spitting in ’83.

  2. Nuzz
    August 12, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    A very intense night, the band totally blew my mind, as did the smell of the weed backstage. Nice one Grant ‘n’ Penguin.

  3. Jay Vee
    Jay Vee
    August 13, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Yes thanks a lot 🙂 love the early Bad Brains performances, of course still love ’em these days, but can’t expect H.R. Hudson to be as energetic (or the rest of the band for that matter) as they were back in the late seventies / early eighties…

  4. Grant
    August 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    I came along to this gig with The Destructors who were supporting. There must have been about 40 of us or more who came down from Peterborough.
    I’d heard the Bad Brains Roir cassette the year before and had just bought the Destroy Babylon 12”. These songs just blew me away and they had instantly become my favourite band…still are too. So I couldn’t believe when my old mate Gizz told me that they, Destructors, would be supporting Bad Brains at Stevenage. Bloody amazing…

    I stood on a chair at the back of the hall with a small cheapo ghetto blaster during the whole performance. I remember HR jumping down from the PA system and going crazy on stage at the start of the show and it all seemed to be in perfect timing with the music. He was also swinging the mic around a lot and you can actually hear it thumping a few heads or bodies in front of the stage. Then there was the bother from the boneheads, Darryl threw his bass down on the stage and jumped into the crowd to sort them out and they just seemed to melt away. From where I was standing I could see him wading through the crowd with him being quite tall.

    I feel so lucky to have seen them during the early eighties and it was definitly one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen.
    Shame about the sound quality but still a great memory for anyone who was there. I’m going to try and track down a flyer of the show…

  5. Carlitox
    August 16, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Please post the early singles of Basement 5!!

  6. convertido
    August 23, 2009 at 12:50 am

    The wife and I saw them last Novermber in Austin, TX at the Fun Fun Fun Fest and they were, musically anyway, awe inspiring. HR is a bit off these days. He, as evidenced on Build a Nation, cannot really pull-off the faster numbers like he could but the reggae was so good it hurt. The rest of the band were like a machine and it was really heartening to see a band out perform other bands half their age.

  7. biopunk
    September 30, 2009 at 3:20 am

    Awesome post.


  8. Kent
    November 29, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Ha “who ever spit get hit”

  9. mick
    April 4, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    heh heh, yeah i was there i didnt know wot to expect, up until then i never rated any american punk bands. well they just blew me away and HR wot a dude, he told some guys “it was a mark of disrespect for rastas to be spat on” ineveitably some numpty spat again – and whoah HR was straight off the stage like lighting, bang smacked the geeza round the head with the mic, i remember watching the guy giving HR the wanker sign as he legged it from the hall.
    great band and thanx for the upload, this site is great. the pack live, rudimentary peni live, the brains live, i’m like a kid in a sweet shop…………. mick

  10. Destroy Babylon
    Destroy Babylon
    September 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    A few years late, but here’s the tracklisting… a rare recording of a very early version of Big Fun and Fool’s Gold!

    Right Brigade / Attitude / Big Takeover / I / Jah Children / FVK / Destroy Babylon / DON’T SPIT / I & I Survive / Big Fun / Fool’s Gold / encore: Joshua’s Song

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