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
05 Indian Fables
06 Marchers in Orange
08 Kisses to the Crying Cooks
Fast Japanese Spin Cycle at Amazon