Saturday, March 23, 2013

I've Owned You For Centuries

I guess this one's an obvious choice because, eh, everybody knows about Guided By Voices now, except back when you had to hunt for things (like when I first bought "The Grand Hour" EP, not really knowing who the fuck they were) it made following a band in their peak years as they filled out their catalog one release at a time something different, or at least something that you can't re-create 10 years after the fact. Try it sometime with a band that's around now, instead of all these people born in 1997 acting like they're experts on Black Flag all of a sudden, or whatever. So like I was saying, "The Grand Hour" was the first Guided By Voices record that I ever bought -- Jim Rao (Orange Cake Mix) pointed it out to me at Brass City Records around '96 and said "that's really good", although I'd already bought it like a year earlier so I just nodded and said "yeah, you're right" -- and it was weird and all-over-the-place, so I started buying some more GBV stuff here and there, including the "Bee Thousand" and "Vampire on Titus"/"Propeller" CDs on Scat, which I still have. And I snared a used copy of "Under The Bushes Under The Stars", which I didn't really like (not enough "lovingly fucked w/"), so that cooled me off on Guided By Voices for a while. Then it was maybe a year later that I bought this -- "Not In My Airforce", Robert Pollard's first 'solo' LP -- and "Mag Earwhig!", with the gatefold cover (which I also still have) on a hunch, both on the same day. And they're both pretty neat, so I'm glad I own them. ("Half Smiles of The Decomposed" not so much, though I doubt I could get much even if I tried to get rid of it, like maybe 50 cents or something.)

When this came out it was pretty easy to think "wha' the frig's the difference between this and another GBV album?", a distinction that I think has grown less over the years (like, try figuring out what separates Boston Spaceships and just a regular 21st-century GBV/Robert Pollard solo album and you can't, really, or at least I can't. Maybe you can. Good for you). I think the difference between this and what GBV was doing at the time is Bob used a lot of open folk-rock chords here, although I don't even know what that means, it's just something that I read somewhere. Plus GBV were switching line-ups at the time, and maybe some people overlooked this record because of that -- I don't remember it being all that talked about -- but no doubt this slab has some great songs on it. There probably hasn't been a year since I bought this where "Quicksilver" and "Get Under It" didn't just randomly pop into my head at least once, and through headphones "Maggie Turns To Flies" comes out blazing once the riff kicks in, probably one of the best Who/arena-rock style hooks that Bob's ever written. As usual there's a lot of variation between songs ("Release The Sundbird" is total King Crimson), but I'm not going to discuss all 42 tracks or whatever's on here, I'll just post the ones on Side A that I like the most and be done with it.

Robert Pollard -

"Maggie Turns To Flies"


"Get Under It"

"Girl Named Captain"

"Chance to Buy an Island"


spavid said...

Despite some filler at the end, Not In My Airforce is almost as enjoyable as mid-90s GBV. All of Bob's solo albums gradually went downhill after this.

Brushback said...

As far as comparing this solo record to same-era GBV stuff, it might even be a tossup between "Not In My Airforce" and "Mag Earwhig!", as far as which LP I've listened to the most.. except that the cover of "I Am a Tree" is pretty difficult to argue against

Anonymous said...

"Psychic Pilot Clocks Out" has to be one of my favorite Bob Pollard songs ever and GbV was playing it live around the time it was touring Mag Earwhig. This song was made to be played live and LOUD.