Tad - Reissues album review

First three albums by Seattle grunge behemoths expanded

Tad God’s Balls album cover

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When grunge first kicked in back in the late 80s, it always felt like Tad were going to be its main players, with Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain following meekly like Stan to Tad Doyle’s Ollie. It’s an understandable reaction given the power of their 1989 debut God’s Balls, whose opener Behemoth barrels and staggers raucously through the barroom doors like the disinterred, raging corpse of 70s metal with fresh electrodes attached.

As provocatively upfront tracks like Sex God Missy and Nipple Belt attest, Tad threw everything including the kitchen sink into the mix to get their sound – their use of devices like cello bows and empty gas tanks is Neubauten-esque.

Salt Lick (the Steve Albini-produced EP, filled out with tracks like Damaged, a split single with Pussy Galore) followed in 1990, its filthy riffing and siren screech typified by Axe To Grind, but when MTV banned their video for Wood Goblins on the grounds of “ugliness”, you suspected that, unlike Nirvana, there would be a ceiling to Tad’s commercial prospects.

They made an ill-fated signing to Giant records, failing to make any breakthrough, but before that, in 1991, they recorded 8-Way Santa, their final Sub Pop album with Butch Vig. He sought to polish their sound a little, as evidenced on Jinx, but there was no cleaning the Augean stables of Tad’s unruly metallurgy, and their demented spirit careered wildly on the likes of Wired God, crashing drunk into barns and kicking over haystacks. Others became successful, but in their time, Tad ruled.

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.