A rockumentary about London-born Paul Hudson has been in the works for years. Hudson, 55, better known as H.R. (Human Rights), formed Bad Brains with his brother Earl Hudson, Dr. Know (Gary Miller), and Darryl Jenifer more than three decades ago. This was a band from which future groups such as the Beastie Boys would take inspiration. During the first wave of punk, Bad Brains was known as the hardest of hardcore bands...before they took a left turn. Small Axe Films hasn’t posted a release date, but the untitled film’s internet site went live in February, giving hope that the project is nearing completion. Of key interest: H.R.’s mystical mid-career conversion to Rastafarianism, which nearly ended Bad Brains.
In 1977’s Washington DC, they were Mind Power, a jazz-educated funk band. By 1979, Mind Power had changed to Bad Brains and become one of the fastest-playing hardcore punk bands ever, faster than the Misfits. Unofficially banned from performing in DC (their song “Banned from DC” sheds no light), they relocated to New York and continued on a hardcore bender, fueled by their unpunk jazz background — unlike many traditional punks, Bad Brains could play their instruments. British hardcore had spurned talent in favor of activism, but H.R. was a growling, apolitical, inarticulate, and sometimes incomprehensible presence.
As front man, H.R. was called the James Brown of hardcore for his stage dives and backflips and other theatrics. But that was then, and even when fronting the reunited Bad Brains, he has cultivated a far more urbane vibe. H.R. and the Brains would attempt to blend reggae and punk over the years, sometimes to interesting effect, but left to his own devices, the H.R. solo show is almost all Jah love, no athletics.
Katastro also performs.
H.R.: Soda Bar, Wednesday, July 13, 8 p.m. 619-255-7224. $12.