Friday, December 30, 2005

Guided By Voices: Fast Japanese Spin Cycle (1993)

Fast Japanese Spin Cycle is for the most part a required listen for any Guided By Voices fan. One of GBV's better EPs, it contains fan favorite My Impression Now, Vampire on Titus variants Marchers in Orange and Dusted, Propeller variant Kisses to the Crying Cooks (Over the Neptune), and a couple of other pretty cool tracks. That mixed with the fact that it is readily available for a fairly cheap price, there is no reason anyone who considers him/herself a Pollard fan should not have Fast Japanese Spin Cycle...

3rd World Birdwatching may best be seen as a GBV historical piece since it actually contains the lyric "fast japanese spin cycle". However, on its own musical merits I am not quite sold. It is a short piano ditty which I'm sure is loved by a few diehard fans.

My Impression Now is an all-out rocker, and the highlight of the EP. It is the type of song which is meant to be played live and loud, though the sound is fairly quiet on this disc. Volcano Divers is slightly over a minute long, but still feels like a complete song. Pollard's vocals are slightly haunting on the track, and that weird drum feedback noise and oddly out of place double guitar solo is just bizarre.

I'm going to put Snowman in the throwaway category, even though it is somewhat humorous and the main guitar riff is fairly rocking. Maybe it would be better a little more fleshed-out. As with many Pollard songs, I can't say I dislike it, only that it is not anywhere near my favorites. The same goes with Indian Fables; there is nothing wrong with the track, other than the abrupt finish. However, it does not have anything which makes it even remotely stand out.

I probably have created a few enemies when I cut down Marchers in Orange on the Vampire on Titus album review. The good news is that I love this heavier, guitar driven version. I feel that this is the way the song should be played, instead of the hodgepodge of noises filling the other version.

Another Vampire on Titus variant, the Fast Japanese Spin Cycle version of Dusted is superior to its Vampire on Titus brother. The VOT track was hurt with the poor vocal quality, though the heavy distorted guitar was great. This is a version laid bare with only Pollard and a couple of guitars, and the great melody is brought out in greater detail. Plus there is a fairly decent lead guitar outro included.

Kisses to the Crying Cooks is simply an acoustic version of Over the Neptune from the Propeller album. Since I absolutely love Over the Neptune I feel I have no option but to love this song as well. I think it would sound great as a closer on a mix GBV album which as Over the Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox as an opener. It would be a cool bookend type of thing.

Overall, Fast Japanese Spin Cycle is a decent EP with some alternate takes on songs. There are no bad songs, if some are somewhat uninspiring. I play this EP quite a bit, as it is a good quick shot of Guided By Voices.

Tracklisting (Songs in bold make my GBV playlist/box set):
01 3rd World Birdwatching
02 My Impression Now
03 Volcano Divers
04 Snowman
05 Indian Fables
06 Marchers in Orange
07 Dusted
08 Kisses to the Crying Cooks

Fast Japanese Spin Cycle at Amazon


Anonymous said...

I just found your site, it's very cool. I can't imagine any Pollard collection that doesn't mention Indian Fables though, one of Pollards best songs.

~Kevin said...

"Indian Fables" has also been covered by Belle & Sebastian - worth tracking down!

Cheers--what a great blog idea, by the way.

The Rock Robot said...

Thanks for the comments, I listened to Indian Fables a couple times again, and I put it on my "To re-visit" list. That's one of the great things about GBV, one person may not think much about one track, and the other has it in his/hers top 10.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'd just thought I'd say I love your reviews. I pretty much agree with you on Fast Japanese Spin's the first EP I ever got, and I still love it loads. Here's the reivew I wrote for

Short but sweet, Fast Japanese Spin Cycle is a great EP that, as schmidtt said, shows the band fully beginning to realize their sound. "My Impression Now" is about as good of a representation of this GBV period that you could get, and Pollard's acoustic tracks are Pollard's acoustic tracks "Volcano Divers" and "Indian Fables" are both excellent of course; you can FEEL the bedroom in these tracks, and just vision him strumming his guitar and singing absent-mindedly into a Toby's four-track. "Dusted" and "Marchers in Orange" from the attrodcious Vampire on Titus are here to, and they're 10x better than their rough original versions. Can't forget "Kisses to the Crying Cooks", which seems to be a rough draft ov Propeller's "Over the Neptune", with some typically great lyrics (And days away from your army/And spend with whimsy kings and slaves/A girl of God becomes a cash flower/A catalog of garden and graves). Oh yeah, it's great. However, like all GBV albums, there are a couple tracks that are just weird half-written throw-aways. Here these are "3rd World Birdwatching" and "Snowman". While these aren't really bad...they just don't really do anything for me, and seem like they're just there to be there. However, it's all a part of accepting Robert Pollard's unique form of self-expression and Fast Japanese Spin Cycle is certinally a flawed yet fun EP that captures Bob and pals during their creative peak that is essential for any Guided by Voices fan.

The Rock Robot said...

Hi Stephen! thanks for your review! If you have anymore, please post them!

Jakob said...

"Indian Fables" is indeed one of Pollard's finest songs. absolutely beautiful.

B&S cover? anyone wanna hook a fellow pollardite up?

Anonymous said...

a cover of indian fables here:

anyone knows where to find the B&S version?

Marten said...

I think the great thing about FJSC is
the warm bedroom/cellar sound and creativity of the album.
I would agree with blog author that 'Indian Fables' isn't too great a song technically. It is vaguely reminiscent melodically of other (better) GBV songs, but the melody line isn't quite worked out. But it is precisely this 'reminding of'-quality that, I think, makes the song great after all: like almost remembering something pleasant and emotional and having a warm feeling without actually capturing the memory.
I especially like the alternative version of 'Kisses to the Crying Crooks'. Somehow, the alternative bass line in this version kickstarts the song for me into something very touching. To get specific: the difference is the bass part under 'And spend with whimsy kings and slaves', even more specifically the tone played under the words in italics; the same for 'a catalog of gardens and graves. Brilliant. 'Dusted' is brilliant too, though I like the dirtier version of VOT too.
Oh, and I do like the opening track, but like the whole EP, that's mostly because of the great atmosphere of the recording.

Buster said...

I dig Kisses even more than Over the Neptune. The wonderful vocal melody stands out more.

Anonymous said...

i'm another 'indian fables' fan. delgados (another scottish band) also covered it. sadly, it was shite.

Anonymous said...

Another great EP! My Impression Now may well be my favorite GBV recording. I absolutely love Indian Fables and the VOT alternatives too; Dusted much improved.

I never understood the point of the Neptune remake though; I'm glad many others here like it! Another reason to visit this brilliant site.

dervy scram said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dervy scram said...

my favorite ep and my favorite song Kisses To The Crying Cooks beautiful kicky and dead brilliant it is now that's a hit