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It may seem churlish to say but it's true enough -- if David Barbe hadn't ended up in Sugar and if that trio hadn't ended up being a surprise commercial success, the likelihood of Spillage being released on Rykodisc or any other label would have been small. It's not that Mercyland was a bad band or anything; they were quite good. But that's all they were in the end, a really good band, just not quite a spectacular one. The unavoidable tone of post-Nirvana congratulation in the liner notes about the triumph of "real" rock and how Mercyland was part of that in their own way doesn't help any, though thankfully Barbe's own essay, the longest of the three included, avoids that attitude in favor of a detailed, warm, and interesting tale of his youth and the band's existence. The selection of cuts, from 1986 to 1990, makes for a fine overview of the band through their varying incarnations, whether its the most well known lineup with Andrew Donaldson on guitar and Joel Suttles on drums backing Barbe's singing and bass work or earlier, rougher versions of the group. The band's biggest plus is in the vocal department, with Barbe's high, not quite strangled but not quite smooth voice and Donaldson's lower, slightly stronger range providing just the right accompaniment for such merry numbers as "Who Hangs Behind Your Eyes." Once or twice they both turn in on together, and tracks like "Service Economy" and "Waiting for the Garbage Can" benefit from it. There's a lot of quick and dirty three-chord thrashers, a fair amount of near-power pop hooks, and even a bit of tempo-shifting fun to keep everyone on their toes, though sometimes one wishes that there was just that much more oomph in the production to capture the audible power of the group.

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