Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Navigating flood regions

Play it: GBV - Best of Box

Robert Pollard has come a long way... from the early basement recordings of Guided By Voices profiled here, to a solo tour where he finds himself opening for Pearl Jam (yes, that's not a typo.) When Pollard played here in Seattle, Eddie Vedder was enjoying the show in the back of the room (at the Crocodile,) so obviously, he's a fan.

While we mull Uncle Bob opening for PJ, why not look back at Pollard's early output, before the cult-following... before he quit his day job (teaching.)

Recently, most of Guided By Voices' back catalogue has been made digitally available, and the contents of which comprise entirely the great compilation Box, which puts together GBV's first four albums (Devil Between My Toes, Sandbox, Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia, Same Place the Fly Got Smashed) with a great rarities collection (King Sh*t and the Golden Boys.) The 5-discs (6 in the vinyl version I own, as it also includes Propeller,) can seem like an intimidating venture, so I've navigated the flood of songs and boiled down the full three hours down to under an hour in this playlist.

Early on, it's easy to hear Pollard's appreciation of R.E.M.'s Murmur, especially in songs like "Old Battery" and "Can't Stop," and the pschedelic Byrds-like "Captain's Dead." It wouldn't be until later on that his Beatles/The Who and Peter Gabriel-era Genesis infatuations would show up. A song like "Dog's Out" shows how Pollard can take a mundane episode in his life, like his dog getting loose, and turn it into gold.

Later on, the Genesis prog-rock itch gets scratched and we're presented epics (any song over 3-minutes is an epic for GBV) like "An Earful O' Wax" which both progs like Lamb Lies Down Genesis and pays homage as well to The Who with the line "'cause it's only a trick of the light" before ripping into a Steve "Hackett" Wilbur blazing guitar solo to end the song. And while "Airshow 88" is important in showing the use of lo-fi and tape-splicing that would make GBV (not) famous, I left it off this list as it sounded out of place somehow.

Many songs from these early days became staples of GBV live shows, like "Postal Blowfish," "Drinker's Peace," and "Liar's Tale." In fact, the song that they often ended shows with, "Don't Stop" (which also ended their final show,) was first a pared down rarity featured on King Sh*t and the Golden Boys. On their last tour, Pollard ressurected a couple others here, including faves "Pendulum" ("we'll put on some Cat Butt and do it up right!") and "Navigating Flood Regions."

Enjoy the bounty.

Previously (boy, do I look like a fanboy here...)
Recovering (Robert Pollard live review)
2nd Impressions of 2006
Early surprise from Uncle Bob (FaCE review, 11/11/05)
The Electrifying Conclusion Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

GBV - Best of Box

* "Old Battery"
* "Dog's Out"
* "Hank's Little Fingers"
* "Captain's Dead"
* "Lips Of Steel"
* "Can't Stop"
* "Long Distance Man"
* "The Great Blake Street Canoe Race"
* "Paper Girl"
* "Navigating Flood Regions"
* "An Earful O' Wax"
* "Chief Barrel Belly"
* "Dying To Try This"
* "Liar's Tale"
* "The Hard Way"
* "Drinker's Peace"
* "When She Turns 50"
* "Pendulum"
* "Local Mix-Up / Murder Charge"
* "How Loft I Am?"
* "We've Got Airplanes"
* "Dust Devil"
* "Don't Stop Now"
* "Postal Blowfish"