Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Tad - Quick and Dirty (2018)

Record Store Day fills me with cynicism. I've always listened to record albums because that's my preferred medium, so I don't need a special day. I collect record albums because I like music, not for the sake of being a collector, and anyone who ever used the term vinyls as a plural noun can go fuck themselves. A few Record Store Days back, they issued an exclusive double album of Devo live in Seattle, and because I fucking love Devo, I had to have it. I knew Hogwild would open at nine so I got there at seven, and even then found myself stood behind a hundred or so teenagers. The queuing itself wasn't bad. The only other person over thirty was queuing directly behind me. He was after something or other by Wire and told me he loved all the English bands of that era. He also told me that he used to live in Mexico City but had come back to San Antonio because he was tired of getting kidnapped, so it was an interesting conversation. Two hours later, the doors opened, and by the time I made it in, there was no Devo live double album to be had because apparently they hadn't even ordered the fucker; and yet copies were quite naturally already for sale on eBay and Discogs at extortionate prices, so I wasn't very happy about that.

This time I forgot about Record Store Day, despite having read that there would be a Tad album amongst all the usual worthless exclusives - Barry Manilow in red vinyl and the like. I guess I'd subconsciously resigned myself to being unable to get hold of a copy, and typically it was going for twice the price on Discogs that same afternoon; but I dutifully trudged along to the store next day, just in case, and fuck me

Quick and Dirty is one side studio material and one side live, and the studio material is previously unheard, half of what we may as well call a lost Tad album - which is a very exciting thing indeed. It's been a while since I saw Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears so I have only a vague impression of how the band just kind of dissolved following a series of kicks in the proverbial teeth, and I'm not even sure I was aware they were still enough of a concern to have recorded the six newly unearthed tracks in 1999.

Tad, for the uninitiated, were how Joy Division would have sounded had they grown up in rural American woodland with only a job at the sawmill to look forward to - much harder to kill, more honest about the enduring influence of Black Sabbath, and numerous shitloads heavier. In fact Tad were pretty much the heaviest thing ever. The music speaks of rural horror, boredom, loathing, and shitty deeds undertaken for the sake of maintaining sanity, all of which contrasts with something quite vulnerable at the heart of the storm. Musically it's concrete blocks of grinding sound pinned together at bizarre mathematical angles, yet pinned together by human craft and muscle rather than engineering. There's a mechanistic quality in the relentless advance of these rhythms, born not from machines but from those brutalised by their own lives; or it makes Godflesh sound like the Sundays, if you prefer.

The six new tracks neatly fill a gap between Oppenheimer's Pretty Nightmare and the stuff Doyle recorded with Hog Molly a year or so later. Hog Molly chugged a little harder with less contrast in evidence, and were lyrically more single-minded, songs often relying on the repetition of innocuous phrases posing more questions than were answered; which can be heard here on Mummified Cop and others blending with the suggestion of melancholia and melody I assume must have come from Kurt Danielson.

I'm not usually wild about live albums, not even Tad's Live Alien Broadcasts which is decent but, bizarrely, somehow fails to invoke the raw energy of their studio recordings; so it's nice that the live side of Quick and Dirty really captures them, huge, crushing, terrifying, sweaty and probably a bit on the aromatic side, but still nailing it all down with absolute precision, and nothing lost to the sludge.

Quick and Dirty has made me very happy, so I suppose I'm going to have to concede the point that one good thing has come out of Record Store Day.

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