Soul Brains

Live at Maritime Hall: San Francisco

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After years of fits and starts and even dabbling with new frontmen to take the place of the irascible and, ultimately, irreplaceable H.R., Bad Brains re-formed to tour under the name Soul Brains, the moniker chosen, according to the band, as a way to purge the "bad vibes" from the legendary and influential group's past negative experiences. Though no new studio recordings came about after the first couple of years of touring, the closest thing is Live at Maritime Hall, a concert recording made at the now-closed San Francisco venue of the same name. But considering the volume of live recordings the Brains have released under the more familiar name, a similar setting is not a big shock. The set list is impeccable, a collection of the best-loved Bad Brains tunes, highlighting the older material that put them on the map with a polite smattering of newer songs. One new track is presented, "On Like Popcorn," which resembles a nu-metal approximation of the Bad Brains sound, as if the rap-metal on Rise had been updated for these (Coptic) Times. The performance itself is OK, not nearly as incendiary as the early days, and H.R. is the main culprit with his positively sedate readings. Great live albums are a rare thing indeed, and the ones that fit the bill make you wish you were there. It's strange, but Live at Maritime Hall makes you wish you were there about 15 years prior to the actual recording of the disc, which makes it hard to recommend, even if it is devoid of glaring faults.

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