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Even though it was recorded in 1979, Bad Brains’ most recent release smokes everything else they’ve ever done. But then, a band’s early recordings are often its best, and this certainly holds true for the first full-length session recorded by D.C.’s cornerstone punk band. The 16 songs were recorded live in the studio at Inner Ear, with bandmembers playing in the basement, bathroom, kitchen, and even the back yard. Between songs you get breaks, pauses, tuning, and background noises. This could destroy some records, but it only adds to the energy, urgency, and rawness that’s essential to early Bad Brains. In under 35 minutes, the young Brains rip through their set, with an energy not often seen today. The band would become known for fusing English punk, reggae, and hardcore to create a dangerously contagious, unprecedented sound. On Black Dots, though, distinct styles stand out in individual songs. “Redbone in the City” sounds as if it could have been a Sex Pistols outtake, with all the “r”s rolled just right, and reggae makes only a single appearance, with “The Man Won’t Annoy Ya.” But Dots’ most prominently lays the foundations for hardcore. One of the first harDCore bands, the Brains designed the sound that would become unmistakably Washington’s own, influencing bands such as the Teen Idles, SOA, Minor Threat, Government Issue, and other early Dischord groups. In songs such as “Banned in D.C.,” “Attitude,” “Pay to Cum,” and “Another Damn Song,” you get a taste of things to come from Washington’s underground. Black Dots provides closure for a band that has over the past few years been dragging out its own death. Bad Brains have again disbanded. Let them rest in peace. With the release of Black Dots, there’s no need for another chapter to be added to their book.

—Mark Murrmann