Saturday, October 22, 2016

Bad Brains with Brent & Becca

I should really go on eBay more often to find team sets for recent issues rather than flailing around trying to find them at card shows. I know -- that's anathema to many people in the hobby. But, you have to get lucky at card shows to find what you want. On eBay, though, you just have to look.

Certainly, you can pay a premium on eBay. That's the argument against it, of course. There are times it is okay, at least to me.  In particular, I don't mind it when I support someone whom I "know" (at least in internet terms) -- Brent & Becca. Brent was selling a few Brewers team sets at a discount, so I picked up several sets that, with combined shipping, cost me maybe $15 total. 

Those cards arrived this week, and I wanted to show them off. But how? This is an easy one.

Outside of the presidential crap, one of the major stories that I've paid attention to this week was the announcement of the final nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The list of 19 nominees includes a fair number of bands/acts that a lot of people have heard of -- Journey, Pearl Jam, Steppenwolf, The Cars, Janet Jackson, and Tupac Shakur, for example. But as the list went around, there was one band I saw a lot of people discounting because they had never heard of them: Bad Brains.

So, to show off the cards, let's listen to one of the seminal bands of the punk rock era.

Bad Brains started in Washington, DC. A group of African-American boys -- H.R. a/k/a Paul Hudson, Dr. Know a/k/a Gary Miller, Darryl Jenifer, and Earl Hudson (Paul's younger brother) formed a funk cover band called Mind Power. They were playing jazz fusion covers of Chick Corea and funk covers of Parliament Funkadelic. 

Then one of them saw a show on PBS about the new punk movement in England where the show talked about the Sex Pistols and, in particular, the Dead Boys. They heard it and were hooked on the sound and the idea. So, after listening to a Ramones song called "Bad Brain," they changed their band name.

But, they wanted to be the loudest, fastest, most bad ass punk band out there -- and with a twist. Rather than being nihilists like the Sex Pistols -- where everything sucks and should be destroyed -- Bad Brains came at music with positive ideas and attitude. At least at first.

So, let's go for some positive stuff right now:

One of the first things I picked up was a team set of Brewers Allen & Ginter minis. Sure, I need to get a couple more of a few of these, but I wonder why I haven't gone down this path before and picked up team sets? Okay, I have in the past, but perhaps I should go back to this.

I mentioned that Bad Brains came at music at first with a positive message and attitude. After a couple of years together, though, they all got influenced heavily by the Rastafarian movement. Their music reflected it too -- picking up a lot of Jamaican spirituality and grooves with it.

They didn't give up their speed punk, though, because, well, they enjoyed playing it most. 

As often happens with teams in transition, the Heritage High Numbers this year contained nearly as many Brewers as the main set did. It's a pretty cool thing to have cards for this year's National League co-champion in Home Runs (Chris Carter) and this year's Major League stolen base king (Jonathan Villar) showing up in the set. 

Another guy who is making Brewers fans excited -- if he can stay away from the outfield walls and not break his wrist again -- is Keon Broxton. Broxton struggled badly in his first two stints in MIlwaukee in 2016. He was sent down to Colorado Springs on July 1 with a major league slash line of .125/.253/.188. Yes, a .188 SLG. Clearly, what he was doing was not working. 

So, he went down to Colorado Springs and changed his stance and mechanics a bit. He was called back up on July 26, and things fell into place. Yes, he had an unsustainably high BABIP (.425) over his last 169 plate appearances, but his hitting had clearly turned a corner: slash line of .294/.399/.538 with 8 HR, 25 BB, and 16 SB. Even if his batting average walks back a bit, he could be a real sleeper for next year. Of course, he's going to be 27 years old next year too, so he needs to make it happen to have a career.

Over the course of their career, Bad Brains got a reputation of being some of the coolest, nicest dudes in the business. On more than one occasion, they would finish a show as the headliner somewhere and see a fellow band -- new guys -- in the audience. They would bring the new guys up on stage, hand them their guitars and drumsticks, and tell the new guys to play -- just to help them out and give them a bigger stage than they may have had in the past.

Indeed, in the early 1980s, they had new bands come open for them. So, for instance, they had some Jewish kids from Brooklyn open for a show for them in New York. Those kids? They were called The Beastie Boys and it was their third show as a band. No kidding. Later, when The Beastie Boys were huge and went on tour for Ill Communication, they returned the favor and had Bad Brains open for them. 

One of the benefits from buying from Brent is that he sells "master" sets. Oftentimes, the inserts can be tougher to track down than the base cards. Being able to knock out the inserts with the base cards at the same price is even better -- and that's what I got to do with both the full-size Allen & Ginter set and the Bunt set. I still need one more "Program" card though.

When I think about why a band should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, one of the main things that should be considered in my opinion is the influence that the artist had on later artists. I've already mentioned the fact that Bad Brains gave The Beastie Boys a big break. There is a great documentary about Bad Brains on YouTube where luminaries such as Henry Rollins, Dave Grohl, and Anthony Kiedis talk very personally about how Bad Brains influenced them. 

For example, Grohl admits that the drum opening to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was a riff that he basically ripped off from Earl Hudson playing "How Low Can a Punk Get". As Grohl says, it's not exactly the same -- but you can definitely hear it in the intro here:

Some other bands that Bad Brains influenced? Anthrax, Deftones, Faith No More (whose lead singer actually filled in as the lead singer for Bad Brains when H.R. was walkabout in the mid-1980s), Jane's Addiction, Living Colour, Rage Against the Machine, Sevendust, Soundgarden, Sick of It All, Sublime, and 311, to name a few.

The final team set I got was the Series 2 Gold Parallel. Man, I wish I had thought ahead of time to get Series 1 from Brent too. I figured I'd highlight Corey Knebel here. Knebel didn't have a great 2016, but he had some bad luck (FIP of 3.58) combine with some control issues (BB9 lept from 3.0 in 2015 to 4.4 in 2016). He's such a high-end arm, though, that he's been a key part of two big trades (for Joakim Soria and Yovani Gallardo). Here's hoping he can continue to develop and be a big part of the team next year.

I don't know if Bad Brains will make the Hall of Fame. I personally think they should, of course -- otherwise I wouldn't have spent all the time putting this post together. Other than Bad Brains, I'm voting for Tupac, Pearl Jam, and Depeche Mode for sure. I'm waffling a bit on the last vote -- either ELO or Kraftwerk, though Yes was good too.

Who do you think should be inducted?


  1. Oops... :p you might have some duplicates on your front step in a day or two.

  2. I'm officially a Journey hater so they would never get my vote. I do like Bad Brains but I don't think they would get my vote for the Hall. I would vote Steppenwolf. ELO, Cars and Kraftwerk.
    I've used Brent and Becca many times for team sets. Fair prices

  3. Had I a vote, I'd go with ELO, Kraftwerk, The Cars and Yes... It's a freakin' travesty that Yes isn't already in. Joe Jackson and the Moody Blues should also be in, IMHO. Pearl Jam should probably go in, but I wouldn't vote for them because I don't care for them.

    I got into Kraftwerk when I was in high school, and I'd particularly love to see them go in... Ich bin der Musikant der Taschenrechner in der hand! Beep boop Berrrrrrr...

    Oh, and nice pickups. I really should buy more team sets, and I've heard good things about Brent & Becca. One of these days...

  4. I was introduced to Bad Brains via a cover of "Big Takeover" on John Frusciante's first solo album in '94.. a desert island disc for me. Eventually picked up the Bad Brains album with the original version.. that's a great one, too.