From what I've read on various web sites, Same Place the Fly Got Smashed is a concept album about drinking. One could likely figure this out for themselves, since the first two tracks both refer to drinking/alcoholics, and the fourth track is even called Drinker's Peace. This record is similar to Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia, but with a larger focus on straight-forward rockers, and less weirdness (though, there is some weirdness). The secret to the greatness of Same Place the Fly Got Smashed is how the "bad" songs, which do not work on their own, still enhance the theme of the album. As far as I'm concerned there are two albums in Same Place the Fly Got Smashed; the straight up old-school rock and roll record, and the odd lo-fi ramblings found intermittingly between the gold...
I'm a huge fan of Guided By Voices' lead off tracks. The three previous track 1's (Old Battery, Lips of Steel, The Future is in Eggs), all made my playlist. The majority of lead of tracks from later GBV releases will also make the playlist. However, Airshow '88 will be the first track one to not make the cut. Lyrically the track is an important starter for the album theme. The main guitar riff is pretty cool as well. Robert Pollard's screaming over the music is actually quite annoying though.
Two fairly good rock and roller's follow. Order for the New Slave Trade sounds like it was meant to be played live with its power ballad structure. The Hard Way is a simple riff made greater with Pollard's knack for melody. I swear he could take a single chord being strummed over and over in the same stumming pattern, and turn it into a hit using some great vocals.
GBV have plenty of acoustic tunes which are stripped down to demo quality (see Vampire on Titus). Drinker's Peace is one such song. With one guitar and Pollard singing into a lo-fi quality microphone, an effect is created which sounds like the vocals are coming from somewhere far away, and almost disassociated with the music. A beautiful song, which sometimes gets some heavier treatment live.
I liked Mammoth Cave the first time I heard it. The chorus is perfect, and the song keeps it beat throughout. I usually like songs which start, end, and finish with a constant rhythm (ever hear Filter's Consider This? It is a good example). Another two minute nugget of greatness.
I'm sure there are many fans of When She Turns 50, another acoustic number. It is an okay song, but does not interest me in the way similar tracks (say, Wondering Boy Poet) do. Club Molluska and Ambergris are in the same boat, though they do add to the overall feel of the album, as they sound entirely related to Airshow '88 and Drinker's Peace.
Pendulum is wonderful. A party song straight from the 60's with one of the catchiest choruses thus far in GBV's catalog, and under two minutes to boot. I've just listened to this song about five times in a row...I must move on.
Local Mix Up/Murder Charge contains the lyrics on which this album is titled, and in a perfectly obvious way, as the song doesn't really pick up until the words "And this is the same place the fly got smashed" are sung. Also, the title of GBV's final tour, The Electrifying Conclusion, is derived from the lyrics to Murder Charge. Not only is this/(these?) a good song, but are important lyrically.
Starboy is creepy, and not that good. Blatant Doom Trip has some great music, but I'm not overly impressed with the vocals on it. I know from checking out the forms on Disarm the Settlers that this is often a fan favorite. Sorry to all those people, but I'll be passing on it for my playlist (maybe it will make it one day). How Loft I Am? is another of the acoustic gems. It is only a minute long, and has multiple vocals on top of each other, and is a nice finish to this great album.
The majority of Same Place the Fly Got Smashed will make my playlist. Even though Club Molluska and Blatant Doom Trip did not make the cut, there is hope for them in the future. I am not a big fan of Club Molluska right now, but when I listen to it, I know that it is the type of song that will grow on me. For those interested in buying the Box box set, you now have two great reasons to make the purchase (being Same Place the Fly Got Smashed and Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia). You never know, you may even like Devil Between My Toes (I did) or Sandbox (I didn't). I haven't even got to the rarities disc, which I will review in the near future, but I can tell you now that it is good stuff.
Tracklisting (tracks in bold made my personal GBV box set/playlist
01 Airshow '88
02 Order for the New Slave Trade
03 The Hard Way
04 Drinker's Peace
05 Mammoth Cave
06 When She Turns 50
07 Club Molluska
10 Local Mix Up/Murder Charge
12 Blatant Doom Trip
13 How Loft I Am?
Box on Amazon