The less-than-pop, 1981 debut from a band that belied a monster new wave anthem that would follow in the near future.
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Bearing a pop underbite a mile long, BDC's savvy for hooks and beefy but rich arrangements pointed to inspirational antecedents like the Desacedents/All (whom they shared a label and multiple tours with) and Husker Du. In fact, throughout the early '90s they seemed to be inseparably spoken of in the same breath as Green Day, prior to that band's juggernaut to stardom shorty thereafter. And it wasn't just stick-to-your-ribs songs that made these guys exceptional, but a secret ingredient in Mark Arnold's tendencies to peel off mind-bending flights of guitar fancy not dissimilar to clearly non-punk axe shredders like Michael Schenker and even Joe Satriani. It's a formula that worked wonders on Big Drill's first LP, Album Type Thing in 1989, a record of such consistency, chops and compelling tunes that I unabashedly regard it as on par with the strongest of Husker Du's deservedly lauded catalog. Their 1991 follow-up, Batch sported a slightly more lucid sonic aplomb, but not relenting an iota of vigor or charm. By '93 movement was afoot in the ranks of the band. Thomson and Marcroft had departed the lineup, and were replaced by a new rhythm section consisting of bassist Darrin Morris and basher Keith Fallis, just in time for what would be the group's last record, No Worse For the Wear. The album in question didn't disappoint in the least offering a dozen savvy but nuanced melodicore bangers that easily held their own to that year's slightly more sales-friendly chart toppers Dookie and Smash. Success beyond the punk-pop circuit just wasn't in the cards for them, and with sales of NWFTW not eclipsing those of Batch, Big Drill Car decided it was time to move on.
Presented here are eight prototypes for their swan song. In addition to shopping for a new rhythm section the band was also canvasing for a new label, which they eventually found in Headhunter/Cargo. I'm not sure how many copies of this tape were actually fielded out, but I recently became the lucky owner of one. Ironically, if you're already an established BDC customer you already have five of these demos, which surfaced on the group's odds and ends compilation, A Never Ending Endeavor in 2009. The fidelity of those songs on my cassette strangely enough aren't the least bit inferior to the ones that made the jump to Endeavor, and best of all we get an entirely unreleased tune here in the guise of "Dance Fuckers," an 85-second balls-to-the-wall slammer that bleeds the same cathartic ferocity of one of my favorite Batch selections, "Ick."
As an unrelated bonus I'm tacking on an unissued Beatles medley the band posted on their MySpace page, way back when that platform had some clout. BTW, Big Drill Car have reunited (very) sporadically in the twenty-first century for live shows and even contributed a handful of new songs to the aforementioned Never Ending Endeavor collection.
01. What You Believe (beginning fades in)
02. Dance Fuckers
03. Thin White Line
04. Friend of Mine
07. Step Right Up
08. The Shake
plus: Polythene Pam/She Came Through the Bathroom Window
Yep, this is a reissue, though with no biographical liner notes to refer to there's only so much in the way of background details I have to offer. The Tickets were a power pop quartet (presumably from southern California based on tracking session locations) that left the world a single in 1986, and a full length cassette album, The Tickets Make a Record, four years later. The Tic's Beatles-esque tendencies were more subtle than blatant, but still identifiable. The overarching tenor of these songs weren't far removed from those inhabiting a bevy of hopefuls in the '90s power pop revival that would soon materialize on Yellow Pills compilations and the whole Not Lame and IPO circuits. Song-wise you won't find any throwaways here, but exceptional moments like "Way Down Here" and "Yesterday's Girl," the fantastic b-side from that '86 7" I mentioned are a tad scarcer. Although he didn't produce any of the material populating The Tickets, L.A. pop maven Walter Clevenger did a fine job in managing this retrospective.
01. Our Two Hearts
02. Dream About Me
03. Way Down Here
05. How the Good Things Come
06. I Don't Belong
08. The One That I Loved You
09. Nothing Else I Can Do
10. Last Dance for You
11. She Got Away
12. Yesterday's Girl
13. Way Down Here (alternate vocal)
14. I Don't Belong (alternate vocal)