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Bad Brains, Live at CBGB 1982 

(MVD Visual)

Anybody who saw Bad Brains live --Henry Rollins, the Beastie Boys, and Big Takeover publisher Jack Rabid, to name three --swears that the group put on the most amazing live show in the history of rock and roll. Live at CBGB 1982 proves that's no exaggeration. You can't say that the four black Rastafarian reggae musicians set the standard for the nascent punk hardcore offshoot, because a quarter of a century later, their stage presence, instrumental proficiency, and across-the-board speed still hasn't been matched by anyone in the lily-white subculture.

Drummer Earl Hudson makes any other percussionist look slow and lazy, but the concert's star is frontman H.R., a legendary should-have-been who never kept his act together for long. Here, he's at his best. An unpredictable force of nature, H.R. goes from sedate to wild-eyed in less than a heartbeat at the start of songs, spasming across the stage, apparently unrestricted by any kind of conventional skeletal structure. Seldom have a performance and song title matched each other as well as "Supertouch Shitfit."

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