Tuesday, June 1, 2010
June Salutes You, Robert Pollard!
Okay, I apologize for not putting out a compilation in May. With the High School Tennis season in full gear, I just did not have time to put anything together. The good news is that I've decided to make June Robert Pollard month. Perhaps not as extensive as Power Pop Month, but I will be sharing several compilations with you over the next few weeks and all of my posts will be related to Mr. Pollard.
Just a couple of quick notes about the compilation. I've made dozens of Guided by Voices comps for people over the years. This is the first time I've ever put together a compilation of just Pollard tracks from throughout his career (well, pretty much). This primer assumes two things. Number one, you already own Bee Thousand. My second favorite album of all time BTW, and if you own it and don't think the world of it, then these primers are probably not going to change your mind. Second, it assumes you own The Best of Guided by Voices, as I have not duplicated any of the tracks here. Finally, for those of you with a pretty good grasp on the Robert Pollard discography, there will still probably be something on these comps which will interest you, so read through the tracklistings and see for yourself if they're worth your time. Speaking of time, I won't waste any more of your's today. On to the first in a series of three Robert Pollard compilations.
Your Trail is Quite a Puzzle: A Robert Pollard Primer – Disc 1:
01. “Over the Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox” by Guided by Voices from Propeller (1992). Starting with the canned “G-B-V” chant and Pollard’s sarcastic statement: “This song does not Rock”, OtN/MGF is probably my favorite Guided by Voices album opener.
02. “Carnival at the Morning Star School” by Guided by Voices from 30 Songs (Ca. 1992). A fantastic song that was on the fan assembled bootleg, 30 Songs, but didn’t actually get an official release until 2009, when it made it’s appearance on Suitcase 3.
03. “Do Something Real” by Robert Pollard from Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department (1999). Released a few months after Guided by Voices’ first major label album, Do the Collapse, Speak Kindly, which was not marred by Ric Ocasek’s production, is far superior to the TVT long player.
04. “Dayton, Ohio – 19 Something and 5” by Guided by Voices from Tonics and Twisted Chasers (1997). T&TC was originally a vinyl-only, fanclub release. It has since been released on CD, and I think it is still available. It’s just Tobin and Bob, and I believe that it’s the most under-rated release in the GbV discography.
05. “Liar’s Tale” by Guided by Voices from Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia (1989). This to me is one of the shining examples of Pollard’s brilliance. Not much going on, but good god what a song! It’s a shame that it was not included in the GbV Best-of compilation. This is a top five Pollard track for me.
06. “Jar of Cardinals” by Guided by Voices from Vampire on Titus (1993). It took me awhile to fall in love with the album VoT. I fell in love with this nugget instantaneously.
07. “Lonely Town” by Sucko from Suitcase 2 [Disc 7] (ca. 1987). Again, just a simple little tune that did not make it’s way onto a proper album. It did manage to make the second box set of unreleased stuff from the Pollard vaults.
08. “Blimps Go 90” by Guided by Voices from Alien Lanes (1995). AL is my third favorite GbV long player. It might have the best batch of songs of any of the albums. This is one of many shining moments on the disc.
09. “I Am Decided” by Timid Virus from Suitcase 2 [Disc 6] (ca. 1996). A song given to Kim Deal, who recorded a version of it with the Amps.
10. “Get Under It” by Robert Pollard from Not In My Airforce (1996). From RP’s debut solo album. Still my favorite Pollard solo album, by the way.
11. “People Are Leaving” by Robert Pollard from Waved Out (1998). A hauntingly beautiful song, from Pollard’s second solo album on Matador Records.
12. “Not Behind the Fighter Jet” by Guided by Voices from Mag Earwhig! (1997). ME! Often gets a bad rap. The beginning of the brief Guided by Verde period. A true transition album, it’s the first GbV record that sounds better as you turn up the volume.
13. “The Ascended Master’s Groshop” by Guided by Voices from Hardcore UFOs: Demons and Painkillers (1997). A B-Side to the great Doug Gillard live staple, “I Am a Tree”. This one is co-written by Tobin Sprout and I’ll bet my life that’s his lovely piano part.
14. “Scissors and the Clay Ox (In)” by Too Proud To Practice from Suitcase [Disc 3] (ca. 1990). According the GBVDB, this is from an aborted album from 1990 titled Back To Saturn X. With all the Robert Pollard product that is available, it boggles the mind how many projects were actually scrapped.
15. “Zoom” by Robert Pollard from Zoom EP (2005). The newest song featured on this compilation. I’ll be honest, I’m not big on very much Pollard music post-2001, but this is Bob at his poppiest.
16. “United” by Ben Zing from Suitcase [Disc 4] (1988). Again this is the kind of throwaway that Pollard-freaks like me can’t get enough of. Pretty sing-along chorus—it makes me weep.
17. “Time Machines” by Lexo & the Leapers from Ask Them EP (1999). An oft neglected release in the ridiculously vast Pollard discography. Pound for pound, it might be the best EP he has released.
18. “Coastal Town” from Suitcase 3 [Disc 9] (ca. 198?). An early, and much slower version of what would become “Closer You Are” from Alien Lanes. Melancholy Bob at his finest.
19. “Sister I Need Wine” by Guided by Voices from Isolation Drills (2001). Though I don’t love ID as much as I did upon its release, it still holds up pretty well. There are a number of gems on it, and I never tire of this one.
20. “A Crick Uphill” by Guided by Voices from Hold On Hope EP (2000). The HoH EP that came out a few months after GbV’s major label debut, Do the Collapse, is a much stronger affair than that album.
21. “The Winter Cows” by Guided by Voices from Sunfish Holy Breakfast EP (1996). I remember being slightly embarrassed buying this record when it came out. I was a little worried too, had Pollard gone hippie? One spin on the turntable, and I knew all was well.
22. “She Wants to Know” by Guided by Voices from Forever Since Breakfast EP (1986). Early GbV owes a lot to the jangly, guitar pop of early R.E.M. This is a great example of that.
23. “Underwater Explosions” by Guided by Voices from Under the Bushes, Under the Stars (1996). The last three songs on this comp are all from the same recording sessions. This one actually made it on a proper album.
24. “Bunco Men” by Elf God from Suitcase [Disc 1] (ca. 1996). This one, however, did not. I can still remember this song coming on the first time I heard Suitcase, and just being stunned. I later found out it was recorded for UtBUtS, but did not make the cut!!
25. “Bright Paper Werewolves” by Guided by Voices from Under the Bushes, Under the Stars (1996). Understated Pollard at his very best. It’s criminal that songs this good don’t get any attention, save from uber-fanboys like me.
Total Time: 58:35
Download it here: Your Trail is Quite a Puzzle: A Robert Pollard Primer – Disc 1