Why I Love… Bad Brains’ I Against I by Eric Wilson. Eric Wilson was the bass player with Sublime and Long Beach Dub Allstars. He tells Why Vinyl Matters author Jennifer Otter Bickerdike why a Bad Brains album has influenced him most…
“My dad was a jazz drummer. Though he mostly listened to jazz-radio stations, he still had a handful of records that were in the house when I was growing up. My first vinyl memory is seeing the Kiss Destroyer LP in his collection. I would stare at that album cover all day. It just sparked my imagination.
“I loved the pictures of the band in their spacesuits. I always thought it looked as if they were about to take over some intergalactic city, or something crazy like that. The other record art that really had an impact on me was The Billy Cobham/George Duke Band “Live” On Tour In Europe [from 1976]; Billy Cobham was the drummer from the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The album had Cobham and Duke’s heads superimposed onto their hands; their hands were their bodies. It was completely different than the Kiss album, but similarly, it weirded people out.
“Growing up in Southern California, going to the record store was a ritual; getting all of your money together, going and buying an album, listening to it with your friends. Vinyl played a role in the whole ethos of the punk and ska scenes. You could look at all the artwork and read the lyrics of the songs. You would find out the names of the band members, and could see what they looked like; if you were at a gig, that is how you would know them if you saw them walking around.
“The first album I really remember owning was Millions Of Dead Cops by [American hardcore punk band] MDC. I think I was 15 years old when I bought it. I actually used my parents’ money to get it! Today, it’s considered a classic punk album, but they released the record on their own label with help from Alternative Tentacles [a Bay Area indie label run by the Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra].
I was getting really into punk rock, and it was one of the cooler bands to listen to. The album had a lot
of rad pictures to look at, and the cover is amazing too, it has an almost graffiti-like militant
style to it.
“The first ska albums that I got were all of those English ska bands: The English Beat, The Specials, stuff like that. That was before I even realised that ska came from Jamaica; I didn’t know any better! l remember looking at the pictures of The Specials, listening to their records. That’s how I got ideas for how to dress, how to sound…
“The one singular album that has influenced me more than any other has to be Bad Brains’ 1986 album, I Against I. It was the first album I owned by them. We all wanted to be the Bad Brains more than anything back then. The I Against I album gave us [founding members of Sublime] the idea to mix different styles of music together. On that LP, Bad Brains would play a metal song, then go into a punk cut and follow that with a reggae tune. Bad Brains covered all of those genres across one of their albums; we tried to mix all of these sounds into one song and make it listenable. I’m definitely still influenced by Bad Brains. I still put them on often.
“I Against I would have to be in my top three records for anyone building a decent record collection to pick up. I also would have to say people should get Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon. Put that album on and sync it up with the beginning of the original Wizard Of Oz movie. That record totally corresponds to what is going on in the various scenes of the film. I’m pretty sure the band did it on purpose; there are too many coincidences to have not planned it. Also, get some Butthole Surfers on vinyl. They’re my current favourite; I’ve been listening to them constantly, lately.”