This longstanding on-off secret of the NYC scene has been able to pack clubs in certain Eastern US cities and in Germany (not to mention Holland and Yugoslavia), but can barely get a booking in their hometown. Such topsy-turvyness is part and parcel of Dotsongs, underlined by an unclassifiable grab-bag approach.
After a very brief stint in a precursor to the Ramones, guitarist and chief songwriter Rick Garcia founded the Dots in 1978 with singer Jimmi Quidd; early guitarists (Garcia began on bass) included the late Alison East, but the lineup finally jelled when Garcia became sole guitarist. Most of Return of the Dots had been cut as demos, more than six years before a German label put it out. This phase of the band was punk energy, a heavy dose of Anglo-pop (especially early Who and Move), The Honeymooners and Huckleberry Hound. The musical styles are sort of jumbled, as are song topics (intra-office romance, marrying a monkey, a “Legend” in his own mind, etc.), yet it all somehow hangs together, partly through Quidd’s high, reedy vocals. Plain and simple, it’s a lot of fun.
The early Dots’ high-speed battiness helped inspire some fans at a Washington DC gig; next thing, Quidd found himself producing “Pay to Cum!,” the Bad Brains’ landmark debut. He also produced an EP for the Undead (led by an ex-Misfit). Then came Return, followed quickly by the other two LPs. Unfortunately, what makes the live album so fine is what makes the second studio LP unnecessary. The live LP has three fab reworkings (of songs by the Beatles, Count Five and Maxine Nightingale!), five new songs and seven numbers from previous Dots discs. Six of those are from I Can See You.
On the live LP, the nucleus of Quidd, Garcia and bassist Leigh Sioris was joined by Nat Seeley on drums (replacing Jeff Formosa, who was on I Can See You) and guitarist Al Maddy (ex-Nitecaps). The two guitars work together well, and the album’s sound is full and punchy — in fact, better than the studio LP. Anyway, it’s as much fun as Return; where else can you find out why some people go to hell (“Hard Times”), what to do with a drunken sailor (“I Won’t Cry ‘Cause You Want Me To”) or where “exceptionality” went (“Crime of Passion”). Dottiness may be an acquired taste, but it’s quite savory in its own odd way. Quidd died of an aneurysm in 1990.