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The Good Goodbye: Unreleased Recording 1984-1990

Scruffy The Cat

Omnivore Recordings 2014

Review by David Bowling

 

Sit back and grab your favorite beverage because Scruffy The Cat is back in town.

The alt-country pioneers emerged from the Boston bar scene and helped create a new musical form. Guitarist/lead vocalist Charlie Chesterman, lead guitarist Stephen Fredette, bassist Mac Paul Stanfield, drummer Randall Lee Gibson IV, banjo player/keyboardist Stona Fitch (1984-1987), and Burns Stanfield (1987-1990) combined punk elements with a country sound, which enabled them to become one of the originators of what would become known as alternative-country.

Their music has been hard to find in the nearly 20 years since their break-up. Sony Music recently released Time Never Forgets: The Anthology (1986-1988), which collects all 35 of their officially released tracks onto one two-CD set. As a complement to this release, Omnivore Recordings has released The Good Goodbye: Unreleased Recordings 1984-1990, which assembles 23 tracks of previously unreleased material.

As with many bands that cut their teeth on the road, playing small clubs, there is an energy and uncompromising quality to it. They played what they wanted as they were not tied to a big label and this allowed them to develop their own style.

Thirteen of the tracks were recorded live, which is always a good barometer to measure a band. Songs such as “Momma Killed Hate,” “The Doctor Song,” “Oldest Fire In The World, “Shadow Boy,” and Red Light” capture the energy and raw appeal of the band.

The music of Scruffy The Cat has aged well. The passion of a quarter of a century ago shines through. Charlie Chesterman passed away last year so there will be no full-band reunions. These unreleased tracks are a fitting tribute to him and the band.

As Groucho Marx once said, “Hello I must be going.”

 

Rating: ***1/2

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