The Dicks, ‘Rich Daddy’ (1983)
Spot told the site Punktastic that, of his productions, the debut LP from the riotous Austin, Texas, band the Dicks, “Kill From the Heart,” was his absolute favorite: “Absolutely nothing phony or [expletive] about either the band or the recording.” The group’s openly gay frontman, Gary Floyd, snarled and crooned lyrics about anti-capitalism, the police state and homophobia, making righteous protest music feel like a party. Spot flew to Austin and recorded the band’s debut in 48 hours. On songs like the Creedence Clearwater Revival-tinged “Rich Daddy,” the band made the move from hard-edge barkers to uniquely grooving blues-punk dynamo. “Everything got recorded way, way, way too hot and it was distorted as hell,” Spot told Jim Ruland, the author of “Corporate Rock Sucks: The Rise and Fall of SST Records.” “Somehow I figured out a way to make it sound good.”
Minutemen, ‘I Felt Like a Gringo’ (1983)
The Minutemen were expanding their vision to include longer songs and heavier grooves, soon to reach apotheosis on the 1984 college radio juggernaut “Double Nickels on the Dime.” But for six songs on the “Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat” EP, Spot had one more “econo” trick up his sleeve. “I said, Hey, let’s forget about this multitrack stuff,” he recalled in the Minutemen documentary. “Let’s just set it up and do it live to two-track. One take. Bam, it’s done. You mix it while you’re playing it and be done with it. And that’s what we did.”
Saint Vitus, ‘Saint Vitus’ (1984)
Spot produced the 1984 debut from the doom-metal pioneers Saint Vitus, who recorded every song on it in one take. “Nobody wanted to do something on a record that you couldn’t reproduce live,” Saint Vitus’ guitarist, Dave Chandler, told Red Bull Music Academy. “All of us had seen too many bands, like Led Zeppelin for instance, where there are all these fancy nine guitars on one song, and then you go to the live show, and the song sucks because they can’t play it like that.” The resulting album — Black Sabbath metallurgy rendered as something much darker and heavier — helped popularize “doom metal,” a substrain eventually taken up by bands like Sleep and Electric Wizard.
Black Flag, ‘My War’ (1984)
On the title track from the second Black Flag album, Henry Rollins vomits out arguably the greatest vocal performance in the history of hardcore — nearly four minutes of accusations, screams, diatribes, squeals and assorted throat shreds. On the album, produced by Spot with Ginn and the drummer Bill Stevenson, you can hear Rollins moving through the space like he’s scratching to escape a prison of his own making. The second side of the “My War” album would feature the band moving into long, molasses-slow dirges that would absolutely enrage audiences in 1984 but ultimately prove a formative precursor to the sludge metal of bands like Melvins, Boris and Mastodon.
Meat Puppets, ‘Oh, Me’ (1984)
From their 1982 debut to their 1984 follow-up, Meat Puppets evolved from an acid-fried hardcore mush into shambolic, vulnerable and Grateful Dead-tweaked country-punkers. Spot recorded both. “He made it really easy to get exactly what I wanted,” Meat Puppets’ Curt Kirkwood told The Austin Chronicle. “He had no opinion. He really liked the live stuff and he was so into the punk rock thing from recording all those other bands. He had such a great ear.”
Hüsker Dü, ‘Something I Learned Today’ (1984)
Hüsker Dü’s second LP, “Zen Arcade,” stretched the very concept of hardcore in sound, ambition and duration. A 70-minute concept album on four sides of vinyl, “Zen Arcade” teamed one of the fastest bands in the land with paisley-printed hooks, acoustic strumming and the shimmering sounds of psychedelia. Though its heady concept and catchy songs might sound like AOR excess, it was still undoubtedly a hardcore album: Twenty-three of its 25 tracks were first takes, recorded in the span of about 45 hours. “With Spot, he was a real purist,” the guitarist and vocalist Bob Mould told Tape Op. “His background was jazz, so his theory was, get the right mic on the finely tuned instrument and go with it.”