August 30, 2011 is the release date that will commemorate The Spin Doctors‘ 20th anniversary of its classic debut album, Pocket Full of Kryptonite. The “20th Anniversary Edition” of it will be a two-CD set featuring a remastered version of the platinum selling album on disc one and a set of previously unreleased demo tapes and live performances on disc two. A CD set that will get the mouth of any real fan of this funky ’90s jam band watering, this version of the album, especially the previously unreleased tracks—over 75 minutes of rarely heard music—has got what it takes to satisfy even the casual listener.
Disc two opens with six songs from a 1989 Can’t Say No demo tape. It includes earlier versions of “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues,” “Forty or Fifty” and “Hard to Exist,” all of which were to turn up on the Kryptonite album. “Big Fat Funky Booty” and “At This Hour” showed up on later albums.
Of the eight tracks from the band’s last cassette, the 1990 Piece of Glass demo, four are songs that made it onto Kryptonite: “What Time is It?,” “How Could You Want Him (When You Know You Could Have Me),” “Refrigerator Car,” and probably their biggest hit, “Two Princes.” “Hungry Hamed’s” and “Rosetta Stone” appeared on the 1994 release, Turn it Upside Down.
“House,” which the liner notes calls “a signature live show rabble rouser,” adds some improvised lyrics from singer/songwriter Chris Barron, something he used to do at live gigs. The two live tracks are a 1993 performance of “Turn It Upside Down” from the Kingswood Music Theater in Toronto and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” from the Continental Divide in New York in 1990.
Fans who have never had the opportunity to hear these demo tapes are in for a treat. There is a quirky joy the band takes in what they are doing that comes through loud and clear as they revel in developing their signature funky rock style. Guitarist Eric Schenkman says: “Our sound just kind of revealed itself to us. Like some kind of crazy sandwich that’s exponential, where strange things happen and two plus two equals five.” This is clearly a band ready to make its move.
Although it may have taken the album a year or so to hit its stride, it did go gold in 1992, and eventually five times platinum. The remastered Kryptonite album holds up well after 20 years. Drummer Aaron Comess, fresh from his recent Beautiful Mistake CD, reflects in Cree McCree’s liner notes: “We recorded the album about a year before it came out. By the time it came out I was over it. I felt like we’re better now, that was a year ago, and you should hear us now. Now I hear the record 20 years later and I’m like, this is a great record!” And you know what? He’s right.