8-Way Santa by Tad

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Giant Killer

Jul 23, 2012
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:A strong record that doesn't let up. 

Cons:Underrated 

The Bottom Line: If you only want one Tad record, find a copy of ''Inhaler''.  But don't pass up on this otherwise


In the beginning Sub Pop Records had three main flagship bands.  The first was Mudhoney.  A fun band with grimey lyrics, ultra fuzz guitars and fun written all over them.  The second was Tad, a band that they tried to pass off as backwoods, illiterate, butchers meant to scare and shock.  And the third being Nirvana, trying to be passed off as aloof, destructive and crawling out from the sticks with pop sensibilities.  Well we all know that while Nirvana was from Aberdeen and had a knack for pop song craftsmanship, this image of Sub Pops was pretty off.  Same with Mudhoney being nothing more than a goofy garage surf band.  So one can only imagine that there is little to no truth in this elusive legend of the band Tad.  In fact 300 lb+ frontman Tad Doyle is a highly intelligent, well trained musician that just happens to look like a menacing truck driver.  While all of these small little myths have a dash of truth to them, they're nothing more than fabrications to sell a product.  Mudhoney went on to develop a pretty large following and still releases music and tours.  Nirvana, we all know of their rise and fall, but Tad truly god shafted time and time again. 

Tad's first a EP ''Salt Lick''was a monster of an album.  A throbbing heavy sound for a band that actually looks how they sound.  Songs like ''Wood Goblins'' and ''High on the Hog'' made even Soundgarden look like a watered down version of heavy music.  Their next album ''God's Balls'' while having a great title also followed right in the footsteps of ''Salt Lick'' with tracks like ''Sex God Missy'' and ''Behemoth''.  By this point Tad was getting quite a bit of a buzz going on around them and on a UK tour with Nirvana unofficially called the 'Heavier than Heaven tour''.  Things were looking up for Tad.  So 1991, the year punk broke (pun intended) was when Tad released '' 8-Way Santa''.  A record that was suppose to officially put them on the map.  They moved away from Jack Endino for production and went to Butch Vig who also did Nirvana's Nevermind.  

Sadly, things didn't go as planned.  The original cover of this album featured a photo of a couple in a suggestive pose that they found in a photo album in a thrift store.  It wasn't long before the couple in the photograph caught wind of this and made sure to put an end to that.  So now they went from having an awesome record cover to just a shot of the band standing amongst some cows and hay.  Tad and bass player Kurt Danielson wearing trucker hats, Tad himself in an Ed Gein shirt, totally playing up the scary mountain man image.  Not all is lost yet.  But then the second throw of badluck.  Their  first single ''Jack Pepsi'' got Sub Pop a lawsuit straight from the Pepsi company.  Which really makes you wonder.  Sure Tad was up and rising, but let us not forget, at this time they were still rather obscure and how someone from Pepsi actually caught wind of this single is beyond me(actually watch the documentary ''busted circuits and ringing eardrums'' and it answers this among other questions).  So they have a cover that was revamped, a single that was wiped out and now just hoping for a stroke of luck.

That luck never came.  The music on ''8-Way Santa'' is great for the Tad fan, but it doesn't offer near the melody of ''Nevermind''.   Tad is a band that doesn't sound good watered down at all.  And this album is the first of their watered down sound.  It lacks the raw scare tactics of ''God's Balls''.  And outside of ''Stumblin' Man'' there isn't any standout tracks.  As a full album it blends well and holds itself together with relative ease. The problem is, nothing about this particular release is special.  In fact, I'm way more likely to listen to ''Salt Lick'' or ''God's Balls'' over this. It works great as a stepping stone between ''God's Balls'' and their album after this ''Inhaler'' but it doesn't work to well as middle ground. ''Inhaler'' was polished but still shines as their most easily enjoyed album.  This album isn't dirty enough to be on the same level as ''Salt Lick/God's Balls'' and it's not clean enough to be ''Inhaler'' It just leaves the listener a little confused.  

None of those things detract me from liking this album.  In fact I personally think this album is great.  Outside of the logistics of it, it's a very solid, very heavy album.   Danielson's bass thunders the whole album carrying it along with ease.  You could put Tad and Danielson together in any band and they'd conquer it.  They have that beautiful harmony between each other that most musicians don't obtain until 30 years of practice.  The way the bass rolls under Tads voice or Tad's grinding riffs embed themselves into Danielsons woven bass lines.  Like the song '' Candi''.  It sounds like it could have been taken directly off of Nirvana's ''Bleach''.    And for all the times that they're loud, heavy and insulting to eardrums their are these brief moments of clarity with songs like ''3-D Witch Hunt''.  Proof that Tad doesn't need to test the limits of their speakers to play a good song.  

This in my opinion is towards top of the list as far as perfect ''Seattle grunge'' albums.  It fills the hole between Mudhoney and Soundgarden.  Sure, it's my not my personal favorite Tad album, and I don't really listen to it that often.  But when I do I'm always pleased.  The problem is Tad has better albums that makes me forget about this one.  Which is a shame because all fans of the Seattle scene can't call their collection complete without this album.  They rely a lot on the verse, chorus, verse song structure that Nirvana mastered.  They have a sense of humor as big as Tad's diet, and they're just really loud! Tad isn't a heavy metal band.  They're just a really heavy band.  But this album was just the beginning of bad luck for the rest of their career.  


Recommend this product? Yes


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