Nestled up here in the damp and green Pacific Northwest it would have been easy for what later became grunge to have gone unnoticed. After all it’s not like Seattle was known for much musically, at least not at the national level. As the 1980s came to a close it would have been Jimi Hendrix, Heart, and maybe Queensrÿche, but that’s probably about it. Nirvana, of course, changed all that, though as I’ve written before they weren’t the band that many of us thought would break. As the 1980s came to a close, the “Big 4” Seattle bands, at least among the people I was hanging out with up here, were Mudhoney, Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Tad. And as much as I was a huge Tad fan from the first time I picked up the 1990 combined release Salt Lick / God’s Balls and was in love with their improbably sound, all hard edges and raspy, spit-flying vocals about wood goblins and getting the hell beat out of you by a leather-strap-weilding group of thugs, I never thought that Tad would have much commercial appeal. But I was hooked.
So it came as a surprise when I learned a week or so ago that a new Tad album was coming out on Record Store Day. Sure, Tad Doyle had put out other albums as part of Brothers of the Sonic Cloth and most recently a dark classical disc called Incineration Ceremony under his full name Thomas Andrew Doyle. But when I saw Brothers of the Sonic Cloth perform a few years ago they didn’t play any old Tad songs, and band itself hadn’t put out a full length release since 1995s Infrared Riding Hood (their last single was in 1999). Fortunately for us, however, there were some old Tad recordings out there hidden away, and as a result we were treated to the very limited (900 copies) Quick and Dirty on Record Store Day 2018. As an added bonus for me personally, while I was in line at Seattle’s Easy Street Records waiting to make my purchases store owner Matt Vaughan, who earlier in the morning served bacon to those of us waiting in line, shouted “Who’s got the new Tad? Anyone out there got Tad?” My arm went up, as did my buddy Travis’, and Matt came over to us and gave us each a free copy of the bonus 12″ that was included when folks pre-bought all three of the recent Sub Pop Tad re-releases. It’s got all the bonus songs that were included on the download cards for those records and was a very cool free score. Thanks Matt!
Side A of Quick and Dirty includes six tracks the band recorded in the studio back in 1999, songs that probably would have been part of Tad’s next studio album. The B side has five live tracks recorded at Seattle’s infamous Crocodile Cafe, home to so many amazing shows back in the day, and includes some early songs like “Behemoth”, “Jinx”, and “Delinquent”. This is the perfect kind of thing to come out on RSD – a combo of previously unreleased studio and live songs, not just another repackaged super glossy colored vinyl limited edition sparkly unicorn $50 collector’s edition. This is Tad, kids. It’s supposed to be a bit dirty. It’s supposed to stick to your shoes.
And man, if the studio stuff is any indication we’d have been in store for a pretty killer full-length from Tad to close out the millennium. “Mummified Cop” pounds you like a hammer with it’s start-and-stop riffs, and the boys don’t easy up over the next five songs. “Corbomite Maneuver” is heavy as hell, but still finds room for some pretty stellar guitar soloing. But as much as I was excited for, and enjoyed, hearing some new songs, I was even more stoked for the live material. And it didn’t disappoint. The live stuff is heavy, and I do mean heavy, like a plodding giant crushing the village of your mind under it’s riff-like feet. This is Tad at their best – sludgy. When they rip into my all-time Tad favorite “Behemoth” it almost feels like you’re experiencing the assault described in the song (Leather straps / Crack in my head) as the torrents of sound drive into your brain.
Quick and Dirty was a great RSD 2018 treat. Let’s hope there’s more old-school early Seattle grunge hidden away in the vaults somewhere just waiting to be released.