The early 70s was a Golden Age in the Fan District, an area of Richmond, Virginia where art students and street people set the cultural tone of the city’s music scene. At the heart of the Fan was Virginia Commonwealth University and its renowned art school. It was the focal point of the art scene and a magnet that pulled musicians into bands, and a pool of young people that formed their audience, often at spontaneous events. It was a time when word-of-mouth could draw hundreds of people to free warehouse parties to dance to bands who weren’t playing Top 40 covers or blues music, as was the rule in Richmond bars and “rock” clubs.
At the nucleus of this scene was Single Bullet Theory, a band formed in 1976 by three members from bands who had been in the forefront of the early-70s Richmond original music scene. Frank Daniel, Dennis Madigan and Michael Maurice Garrett (along with soundman Z) had been together since 1971, in the bands Big Naptar (a very loose, experimental, art rock group), which morphed into Crossbreed and, later, X-Breed, who began to garner a larger following, playing a mix of eclectic covers (MC5, Pretty Things, Troggs, V.U., The Move and Terry Reid) and garage-punky original songs.
Single Bullet Theory refined the sound of these earlier bands, while retaining the loose, high energy and high volume (often with three guitars). They were expanding their cred and audience by continuing to play (and often organizing) free warehouse parties, $1-$2 admission bar gigs, and opening for national acts such as The Ramones, The Talking Heads and The Patti Smith Group. In 1981, SBT was signed by Nemporer Records, and the first single, “Keep It Tight”, from their only album, charted at #78.
The tracks submitted here are from The Bullets’ first recorded offering— a self-produced, eponymous 12-inch, 45rpm, extended play record, recorded between May and October of 1977 at three different studios, with four different engineers and two bass players. The cover illustration was drawn on an Etch-A-Sketch and screen printed at Richmond Graphics, where SBT rehearsed and where some of the band members worked. 1,000 records were pressed.
Lenny Kaye, who edited “Rock Scene” magazine during that period, reviewed the record and dubbed “Rocker’s Night Out (Punk for A Day), ” a “minor masterpiece.”
After three more years of writing, rehearsing and touring, as well as two more self-produced recording sessions and several personnel changes, the band was finally signed by a major label -- but from there the road to success grew bumpier than anyone might have expected.
Read the whole SBT story here: