The recordings for The Riff were done at Fly Studios. Originally, the album was released to fans only, in an unmarked plain black sleeve. However, based on the positive reaction, the band decided to have The Riff professionally mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, the City's leading mastering lab. With an album cover based on photos contributed by friends and fans, about 2500 copies of The Riff were pressed and distributed. The album received only a few spins on New York's FM rock stations, but college radio stations all over the country were playing it. A second pressing was done as orders came in from independent record stores around the country. The reviews were extremely favorable, including articles in Billboard and the UK's leading music paper, New Musical Express (The NME). Branded Records didn't have the staff or resources to work the record like a major label, but The Riff still made enough money to keep the band going.
Both CBGB's and Max's had released compilation albums of local NYC bands in 1976, and prepared their next volume of recordings for 1977. Hilly Crystal, the owner of CBGB's, had a remote recording studio parked outside so that bands could be recorded live on the CBGB's stage during the day before the club opened. Just Water and Blondie recorded on the same day. Talking Heads and other recently signed bands were also recorded for Live At CBGB's Volume II. Unfortunately, some of the bands and their record companies would not come to terms with Hilly, who just wanted a great record for the fans, and the album, even though completed, was scrapped. Legend has it that Hilly was so mad he burned the tapes. None of the tracks have ever been bootlegged. Max's Kansas City Volume II was recorded at the Record Plant's 24-track studios. Just Water contributed "What We Need Is Some Rock". It was produced by Eric Dufoure who went on to work with Just Water for another year.