(As published in the Illinois Entertainer ... )
God of Love
Mediocre Rastafarian music is like mediocre Christian music: You don't have to be a believer to give it the benefit of the doubt, but it helps. This goes quadruple for Bad Brains. Not only to you have to suspend the usual disbelief (Haili Selassie is Jesus and smoked dope is his sacrament?), but you also have to convince yourself that alternating reggae and heavy metal makes for a logical incarnation of the faith because God of Love won't convince you by itself.
Some of the metal isn't bad--all the cannabis in the world won't deaden the impact of reverie-wreckers like "Tongue Tee Tie" and the title cut, and "Thank Jah" is almost goofy enough for Funkadelic. If only the same could be said for the reggae, which comes off so generic that only a spliff the size of Warner's loss-leader budget could convince you it made you see God.
Between the extremes comes the non-metal, non-reggae "Rights of a Child," wherein H.R. asserts that "[e]very child has a right to be loved. / No baby, no baby is poor. / Our God has given us this." It sure beats the pro-life stuff blasting from the Bible bookstores.