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Gear Daddies, Let's Go Scare Al


This week's vinyl digitization is Let's Go Scare Al, the 1988 debut album from the Gear Daddies, a country rock quartet from Austin, Minnesota (hometown of Spam). The album is all about small-town life, largely from the perspective of a narrator who has moved away and is looking back at the limited lives that remain there: the drunks, the no-longer-teenaged metalheads, the lonely housewives who somehow find happiness and contentment. (Anyone who is creeped out by clowns are advised to avoid perusing the album cover, especially the closeup photo on the back. I think that's frontman Martin Zellar in the circus getup.) Though I normally single out one song in these weekly posts, this week I'm going with two favorites: "She's Happy" and "Heavy Metal Boyz".

The sound of the album - released on a tiny independent label, Gark - is raw, plain-spoken and genuine, and still moves me after all this time. But then they moved to a major label, and their next album, while still pretty good, had an obvious studio sheen to it, and was clearly intended for commercial radio airplay. That really didn't happen, with only the hidden track "Zamboni" gaining any success - mostly in hockey arenas between periods, while the ice was being cleaned. They released one more album before breaking up in 1992. It looks like they get back together occasionally for one-off concerts but haven't released any new material since then. I once saw them in concert, at Metro in Chicago, where they were opening for (I think) the Connells. My friend Mike and I arrived a few minutes late, just as the band started their act. I can still remember climbing those last few steps into the auditorium and hearing the opening chords of "Don't Forget Me" echoing through the room, which was still only half-filled as the Connells fans had yet to fully arrive. Few in attendance had probably ever heard of the Gear Daddies, but for me (I had picked up the debut album a few months earlier) they were the better band that night.

March 6, 2016 in Music | Permalink