The first time I experienced the sonic assault of the Brains’ debut, Pay To Cum, it was during a late night viewing of Scorsese’s wonderful kafkaesque journey through 80s New York, After Hours, and I literally leapt to my feet in disbelief. Even by that tender age of 15, I’d already developed an almost unhealthy passion for punk rock, but somehow this landmark release had, until then, slipped beneath my radar.
I rushed out the very next morning to pick up a cheapo reissue of the single and was astonished anew; this time not just by the thundering strains of the a-side, but also by the borderline ballad on the flip, Stay Close To Me.
Unlike the band’s later, more traditionally dubby outings, Stay Close To Me has more of an afrobeat feel, whilst still managing to retain a punkish swagger at the same time. (Swagger or no, however, I can’t see it going down too well with the Hardcore fraternity of the day).
What makes the track so special though, is not just its juxtaposition with the ferocity of the early Bad Brains’ breakneck punk onslaught, but that it also contrasts so greatly with their subsequent reggae output. The poppy innocence here, quite at variance with the Rasta fire-and-brimstone of their later releases, is equally important to understanding the Brains’ complex oeuvre, and, dare I say it, strangely touching to boot.