In a better world, Dumptruck would have been heroes of the college rock boom of the 1980s -- both Seth Tiven and Kirk Swan were great songwriters, they were an impressive guitar team (when Swan left the group, Tiven also proved he could more than handle the songs by his lonesome), and they made three quite-good-to-truly-great albums between 1984 and 1988. While the edgy anxiety that fueled Dumptruck's best music wasn't that much stronger than that of the other angst merchants of the day, it sounded real and honest enough to make certain dabblers wary, but the real killing blow for the band came after the release of their best, and best-selling album, 1988's For the Country. Tiven and company learned that their record company, Bigtime Records, was trying to sell their contract to a major label when in fact their obligation to Bigtime had already lapsed. Tiven and his lawyer dutifully reported this fact to the major in question, and Bigtime responded by suing Dumptruck for a cool five-million bucks. While Dumptruck would eventually prevail in court and record again, the damage to their career was tremendous -- by the time their fourth album, Days of Fear, came out in 1994, most folks were convinced the band had broken up, and they never recovered the buzz they were building in the late '80s. The band's first three album fell out of print during the lawsuit (they've since been reissued), and their three later albums were never easy to find, making it hard to establish an informed opinion about their repertoire, but Haul of Fame: A Collection is a career-inclusive compilation that finally shows Dumptruck the respect they richly deserve -- featuring representative cuts from all their albums, Haul of Fame captures the heady tension and release of their best music, and collects 20 college radio staples that should have been, from the raging paranoia of "Bad Day" to the pre-alt-country leanings of "Friends," and the limber charge of "Secrets," Dumptruck always delivered the goods on disc, and Haul of Fame offers 75 minutes of vital proof.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming