Saturday, December 20, 2014

5th night of Chanukah: The Buck Pets - Rares (and unreleased) (2010) & Mercurotones/To the Quick demos

And we roll into night numero cinq.  Glad you're still paying attention.  There's kind of a lot to unpack here - roughly two albums worth of tunes, and a real treasure trove if you're of The Buck Pets persuasion.  One of my all time most rewarding music finds occurred way before the advent of Ebay or even the web as we know it today.   In fact, I've been sharing it on Wilfully Obscure since forever, specifically the Pets nine-song, 1987 demo tape (aka the "blue tape" per the color of the sleeve) which presumably helped them ink a deal with Island Records.  I spotted it in the cassette rack at Up Your Alley Records in Jay Street in Schenectady sometime in 1991 or thereabouts.  In fact, by the time I unexpectedly unearthed that precious demo, their follow-up, Mercurotones may have already been released.  It was a thrilling discovery, featuring early versions of five Buck Pets songs, a preview of "Some Hesitation" from the aforementioned sophomore album, and the remainder entirely unreleased. 

Of course, I was already sold big time on the Dallas quartet by way of their self-titled debut which dropped in 1989.  The visceral, introductory salvo "Iron Cock" (take that title with a grain of salt folks) was a clock-cleaning surge of grunge and punk, just as life affirming as anything bearing an SST of Sub Pop logo.  A little bit further into that disk, the Pets revealed themselves as dutiful acolytes of the Replacements and Soul Asylum, swiping the fervor and wit of that pair respectively.  The sophomore Mercurotones, and their 1993 parting shot, To the Quick were even more sophisticated and nearly as gratifying.  A fifteen year hiatus followed.  It took a one-off 2010 reunion show (in Dallas, naturally) for Chris Savage and Co. to unlatch the BP vault to reveal a bevy of unreleased tunes on the limited edition CD I'm sharing here.

My first and overriding complaint with Rares right off the bat - a complete and total lack of liner notes, with the only provided text being a basic track list on the back cover.  No details on when any of the seventeen songs were recorded, no credits, nothing.  Zilch.  A pretty shoddy move, but at least the price was right ($10).  Given the mildly hissy and occasionally shrill audio quality, I'm presuming most of this stuff was tracked in their formative years - in fact I know for certain "No More From You," "Your Fault Not Mine," and "A Longer Look" predate the "blue tape."  They comprise some of the more recommendable cuts here, but Rares gets even better.  "Disappointed" packs a similar buzzsaw crunch a la the To the Quick era, "Forgiveness" is an above par bittersweet rocker that sounds like the product of the Pets later days, and the incarnation of "Sometimes" appearing here bests the one on that amazing demo tape I keep referring to.  Conversely, some of the other selections didn't make it onto albums for a reason, but I'll let you sort out which tunes I'm alluding to on your own.  As a bonus, I also tacked on a pre-Blue tape demo, "Maybe It's Just Me," that failed to materialize on Rares.

I'm making available separately a dozen demos from the Mercurotones and To the Quick era, that were purloined from the Pets Myspace site and elsewhere.  These are at various and lower bitrates, but fully listenable.  Not much to say about them, other than they don't differ that greatly from the finished product.  There's even a Big Star cover that I don't believe has surfaced anywhere.  Since the BP, Chris Savage has fronted subsequent projects including Mic the Tiger, Atlas Throat, Pelicans, and has even cut some DIY solo tracks.  Perhaps these endeavors will be the subject of a future entry.  As for all you Buck Pets fans craving something beyond the band's three albums, there were indeed some leftover scraps on the cutting room floor, and I'm passing them along to you.

Rares (and unreleased)
01. Grooved Pavement/No More From You
02. Other People
03. Twists and Jerks
04. Sick and Stoned
05. Live Until I Die (home demo)
06. Off+On (home demo)
07. Your Fault Not Mine
08. Sometimes
09. Separation
10. Sick and Stoned (alt vers)
11. A Longer Look
12. Angel on My Shoulder (home demo)
13. Disappointed
14. Forgiveness
15. Sometimes (home demo)
16. Live Until I Die (reprise)
17. Funny That Way
plus: Maybe It's Just Me (from first demo)

Mercurotones/To the Quick demos
Ave. F Blues/C'mon Baby/Crutch/Five o'clock or Thursday/Living is the Biggest Thing/Moon Goddess/Pearls/Smiler with a Knife/To the Quick/Walk it to the Payphone/Worldwide Smile/You Can't Have Me

Rares (and unreleased): Hear
demos: Hear


joseph kyle said...

Wonderful post, wonderful band! looking forward to jamming these sides! Did you ever happen to see them live? They were a great live band, too!

spavid said...

No. I wish.

Ralph Dodger said...

Fab!! You've really upped the ante this week! Many thanks. said...

Thank you for these. Love the Buck Pets.

For the life of me, I cannot get the complete Rares (and unreleased) to download. Is anyone else having a problem?

-Xtm said...

Got it. Thanks again!


lolo said...

Hi again

Please could you re-up this one? looks interesting