I finally received my copy of Clown Prince. It turns out that I got it from Amazon, as a pre-order where you set up how much you are willing to pay for something, and the moment someone posts selling the album at a price under your max, Amazon automaticaly purchases the disc for you. Therefore, it came as a complete surprise when I got an email from Amazon saying, "thank you for your purchase of Guided By Voices - Clown Prince of the Menthol Trailer EP". After a couple of listens, I am under the impression that Clown Prince is the worst of GBV's stunning EP's, though it does have its charms...
Quite possibly the most popular track from Clown Prince is the first one, Matter Eater Lad. This song is actually available for free off of GBV's homepage. It is a fun little minute long punk-infused track (kind of reminds me of The Clash). The chorus of "Yeah he's mad, he's matter eater lad" is pure genius. It may be the greatest minute on this ten-minute EP.
The other real keeper here is Johnny Appleseed, another often played live track. I would love to hear this particular song re-done with a more studio sound, because it truly does have a great melody. The verses are beautiful ("You're a breath of insulation in my draftic attic brain/You're sweeter than the sweet cream buzzed on sugar cane"), and the chorus of "you're so cherry" has Tobin Sprout helping out Pollard on vocals. Though picking this song for the playlist is a no-brainer, I am also thinking about adding the live version on Live at the Wheelchair Races, which includes some distorted guitar starting at the second verse.
Those two tracks are definately the highlights of the EP. The rest of the EP does not come even close to reaching those two. [Note: After writing that last line, I popped in The Electrifying Conclusion DVD in order to check out Pink Gun, Johnny Appleseed, and Matter Eater Lad, and ended up watching the whole damn thing. So now, the conclusion of this entry...]
Single simple guitar riffs which have a rustic sound to them are the focus on Broadcaster House, Hunter Complex, and even the way-to-short Pink Gun (which I'm guessing was a surprising inclusion at the final show). Hunter Complex's vocals are extremely hard to hear, though the riff is fairly neat. Scalping the Guru (which was also the title to an aborted album) sounds more like an intro to an album than an actual track on its own. Lastly, Grandfather Westinghouse (which has a cool title), is also follows the simple single guitar riff structure, except for twice the length, a whole two and a half minutes.
This is the worst (or least good) GBV EP. However, the inclusion of Matter Eater Lad and Johnny Appleseed make it worth the purchase (assuming you can find it for about $15 like I did). It may be possible for the other tracks to grow on me some more, since I did this review after listening to the EP maybe only three or four times. However, for now only the two tracks make the playlist.
Tracklisting (songs in bold make my ultimate GBV/Pollard playlist/box set):
01 Matter Eater Lad
02 Broadcaster House
03 Hunter Complex
04 Pink Gun
05 Scalping The Guru
06 Grandfather Westinghouse
07 Johnny Appleseed