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Black Dots


By the early summer of 1979 the Bad Brains were already tearing up Washington D.C. They were armed with a tape they made at rehearsal, a real rugged thing, and were looking for people to play it to. The Slickee Boys heard it and suggested the band go out to record these songs at the fledgling Inner Ear Studios in Arlington, VA. What you are holding in your hands is the band's first full-length session of any kind in a recording studio. At that time, Inner Ear was Don Zientara's basement. Don had a four-track Teac 1/4" tape deck and a small drum booth to one side of the basement. Doc and Darryl set up in the main space while Earl somehow got himself into the "closet" with his drum kit. HR was in the backyard with the vocal mic (you can hear Don's son speaking to HR between tracks along with some crickets, too) and Don was set up in the kitchen upstairs. This day everything was just right and the band played straight through their live set of that time including "Black Dots" and "Pay to Cum," songs that were just too fast to ever be performed live to the band's satisfaction. The set on this record represents all of the band's songs, their first month's output, starting with the first song the band ever wrote, "Don't Need It." As is true with all four-track recordings, some decisions were made "going to tape," most notable is the eerie reverb on the drums, and these choices are forever a part of the mix. Formed as Mind Power a year earlier, it wasn't until their early vocalist Sid McCray showed up at Darryl's apartment in SE D.C. with his records and safety pins that the band transformed itself into the progressive punk outfit now known as Bad Brains. They were one dose Dead Boys topped off with a couple of shots of The Damned mixed with the Sex Pistols and The Clash. All the material on this record was written while the band lived together in a house on Bayway in Maryland. Doc had acquired the house from the manager of the Rustler Steak House where he had been working. HR and Darryl got jobs there as well, though they didn't last and ended up washing cars at the dealership down the street. Earl was washing clothes at the community hospital. Doc then got a job for himself and HR at Atlantic Research and Development, a bomb factory that manufactured Stinger and MX missiles. Darryl, without a driver's license, would pick them up from there at midnight and take them to rehearsal at the Bayway house. They lived at that house for about six months from late 1978 to mid-1979. They left after playing a series of basement shows at parties they threw. Sid would get on stage and start the set singing "Regulator." His girlfriend Tally would run on stage, tackle him and knock him off the stage and HR would then take the mic for the rest of the show. It wasn't long before Sid left the singing completely to HR and all of his sonorous vocalizations and lyricism. Needless to say, the house got a bit trashed and when they vacated Darryl moved in with Sid and everyone else moved back in with their parents. The next step was their first club shows; at the Atlantis (later named the 9:30 Club) and Madam's Organ (in Adams Morgan, MO with the Yippies and Youth Against Racism), conquering the D.C. punk/new wave scene with their sonic onslaught and clever musical curves. It was at this point that this record was made. Darryl got thrown out into the street by the bouncers after the band opened for The Damned at the Bayou, resulting in the band being banned from the club. With the Atlantis in reconstruction and the Bayou now off-limits, the possibilities in D.C. were shrinking for the band. New York had CBGB's, Max's Kansas City, Tier 3, 2 + 2, A7, Hurrahs, The Eighties, The Pep lounge and squats. The scene was jumping so the band headed off to NYC for the first time. They never looked back. On 180 gram vinyl with a full-color innersleeve.