Scruffy the Cat

  • Scruffy the Cat
  • High Octane Revival EP (Relativity) 1986 
  • Boom Boom Boom Bingo EP (Relativity) 1987 
  • Tiny Days (Relativity) 1987 
  • Moons of Jupiter (Relativity) 1988 

This Boston combo plays good-natured countryish rock with a romantic streak — sometimes a bit too ephemeral for its own good, but always unpretentiously enjoyable. Frontman Charlie Chesterman sings the surprisingly witty lyrics (all five Scruffys write) in an earnestly bemused drawl, and the band plays in an amiably rollicking — if not particularly individual — style that’s well-suited to their modest musical goals.

Both the six-song High Octane Revival (produced by Dave Minehan of the Neighborhoods) and Tiny Days (produced by ex-Waitress Chris Butler) are consistent funfests, with such winning numbers as the former’s “Tiger, Tiger” and “40 Days & 40 Nights” and the latter’s “Shadow Boy” and “My Fate Was Sealed with a Kiss.” Multi-instrumentalist Stona Fitch left after Tiny Days, but the loss isn’t evident on the inconclusive Boom Boom Boom Bingo, two new studio tracks (including the wonderful busted-heart kiss-off “You Dirty Rat”) plus three live tunes, among them a decent cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway.”

Produced by Jim Dickinson, the band’s final album, Moons of Jupiter, is characteristically well-played and typically tuneful, but with a poignant sense of melancholy that suffuses even cheery-sounding numbers like “Capital Moonlight,” “I Do” and “Betty Drops In.” A bittersweet farewell.

Scruffy the Cat did make one more vinyl appearance with “Love Song #9,” one side of a joint single with the Young Fresh Fellows, on the Cruddy Record Dealership (i.e., PopLlama Products) label.

[Scott Schinder]