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Surfacing out of nowhere in 1996, Black Dots turned out to be an archival release of the best kind, something truly rare and unheard that also captured a band at its best. The liner notes explain the origins of the release: In 1979, fellow DC locals the Slickee Boys heard an even earlier rehearsal tape from the Brains and suggested hooking up with now-legendary DC producer Don Zientara, who had recently opened his Inner Ear Studios in his house. The group duly booked time, set up in the fledging venue and put on a commanding performance. Nearly all the legendary early hits are here, including “Pay to Cum,” “Don’t Need It,” “Regulator,” “Banned in D.C.,” “How Low Can a Punk Get?” and “Attitude,” while a number of otherwise unheard or never-recorded elsewhere numbers make Black Dots easily the equal of the ROIR cassette.

Some of the changes and quirks are really fun — H.R.’s mock-cockney sneer throughout a number of songs is one of the last things probably anybody expected to hear. Aside from “new” oldie “The Man Won’t Annoy Ya,” the reggae side of the band went largely by the boards this time around, aside from the reedy inflections HR throws in from time to time. Instead it’s all monster-rock power — Dr. Know plays like a man possessed, Darryl Aaron Jenifer does it low and loud, while Earl Hudson overcomes for the slightly hollow drum sound with sheer manic smashes and just enough control. Absolutely necessary for Brains fans or anyone who appreciates the power of live, loud electric music.

-Ned Raggett, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
Bad Brains-BLACK DOTS (recorded 1979, released 1996)
256kbps MP3

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