Somewhere in the 80’s out of all the synth-rhythms, Farfisa organs squirts, and electronic dreams emerged a back-to-the-basic “roots-rock” movement, which encompassed everyone from the Long Ryders to the Replacements to Joshua Tree-era U2. Scruffy the Cat deserves a place in New England musical history, if not the country’s, for being a leading proponent of that same rock and roll style. Taking its cues from early punk rock, British Invasion music, and the spirit of America’s Heartland from the Midwest to Nashville, this mid-80’s group was something its hungry legion of local fans lived for. Guitarist and singer Charlie Chesterman (who went on to front a couple of bands and go solo after Scruffy’s demise) and bassist Mac Stanfield migrated to Boston from Iowa, where their group the Law enjoyed some notoriety. Joining up with guitarist Stephen Fredette, they formed the core of a band that attracted enough attention to be signed by premier alt-rock label Relativity. Two EPs (including 1986’s High Octane Revival, produced by the Neighborhoods’ Dave Minehan) and two albums followed, earning the band mountains of press adulation and respect from fans around the country. On their 1989 swansong release Moons of Jupiter, Scruffy the Cat even took their sound to the rest of the solar system with an elaborate and expensive sci-fi oriented CD package more fun than a box of Cracker Jacks. Alas, the group blew apart in the early-90’s, but they certainly left a great-looking corpse.
(by Carter Alan)