Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Guided By Voices: Suitcase - Failed Experiments and Trashed Aircraft: DISC ONE (2000)

Disc One of Suitcase's greatest claim to fame is the inclusion of the incredible Bunco Men, a song which has no right being on a rarities collection. This should have been on Under The Bushes Under The Stars, and made a spectacular album even greater. Overall, Disc One is a decent album in itself, especially if you trimmed it of some of the fat. Hey, its better than some of the EPs, and way better than Sandbox! It turns out that 10 of these 25 tracks have made my playlist, which will hopefully shed some of the fears that some of you may have when considering investing in this box set. You need this boxset for at least Bunco Men, as no GBV collection is complete with that track. How about a fast version of Spring Tiger? Or how about some tracks form aborted albums Concert For Todd, Power Of Suck, Back To Saturn X, Learning To Hunt, and The Corpse Like Sleep Of Stupidy? All this and outtakes from Bee Thousand and Do The Collapse make up Disc One of Suitcase...

The Terrible Two starts Suitcase off, a track from '93 which hints at the great possibilities for this rarities boxset. It is not as fuzzed-up as tracks on Vampire On Titus, though it definately has the edge. Bloodbeast sounds like it could have been recorded at the same time, and continues Suitcase's surprising good start.

A newer track (a Do The Collapse outtake) is next, called The Kissing Life. You can definately hear how the track fits in with those on Do The Collapse, however stripped down it is compared to its album counterparts. James Riot is another Do The Collapse outtake. It is a rocking tune which sounds more like something from Alien Lanes. It makes you wonder what Do The Collapse would sound like if given the sound treatment these two tracks have. Bottoms Up! is apparently from an alborted album called The Corpse Like Sleep Of Stupidity (1992), and Tear It Out is an oldie from '88. Both rightly belong on a rarities disc, as well as the thirty-second throwaway Cinnamon Flavored Skulls.

The most unbelievable song on the entire Suitcase box set (and one of the greatest GBV songs ever) is Bunco Men. This song is just wonderful, with a great chorus ("I've got a thing or two/I wanna give to you again/I see a real baby blue/Not yet glued to you again"). This is one of those low-key rockers that gets better after every listen, and it is extremely surprising to see a track of this quality not on a regular album (even if it was recorded in '95, a time when GBV was just piling on great tunes for Under the Bushes Under the Stars).

Bad and Rare may be the most bluegrass song GBV ever pulled off. Dorothy's A Planet definately shows potential, but mostly comes off sounding like a demo for a heavier song. The gbvdb also states that it supposed to be on an aborted album called Concert For Todd. Pluto The Skate has a decent chorus of Pollard screaming "Is everybody happy now?" over and over, but the rest of the track is disjointed and almost jarring with its switches in noise level.

Let's Go Vike is the first track on Suitcase (there will be more) from the aborted album Learning to Hunt (1989). It definately has the feel of the earlier GBV sound, and would have sounded great on (and improved) Sandbox. Sabotage is also on the Hazzard Hotrods CD, which is pretty much GBV playing a bunch of songs live in a video store (MC Video). I am still undecided on what I think about this track, as I do like its jazzy slow groove, so I'll put it on the re-visit list for now.

The first track on Suitcase from the aborted album Power Of Suck (1995) is Pink Drink. It is a fun little tune from one of GBV's most spectacular eras. The fans over at Disarm the Settlers are sort of getting a campaign going to have this aborted album released, which makes sense considering just how good GBV was during this time period. It's Easy is an oldie from '84 which is not overly interesting. It is less than a minute long, as is the final track Ding Dong Daddy, which borders being a throwaway and a tiny bit of bizarre genius.

Dank Star Ground Control is an outtake of Bee Thousand, and I surely cannot imagine a world where a single track from Bee Thousand was replaced by it. However, it may grow on me, so I'll put it in the re-visit list (even if for some reason it reminds me of Darth Vader). Spring Tigers is the first Suitcase track from the aborted album Back To Saturn X (1991), and is essentially a heavier, faster, rock version of Spring Tiger (from Get Out Of My Stations).

Born On Seaweed is a newer (2000) track which fails to be exiting in any way. Flesh Ears From June almost sounds like a pop tune from the 50's, and is one of GBV's more happier tunes. Driving in the U.S. of A. is a couple minutes of noise, essentially a throwaway.

And then there is not one, but three versions of My Big Day in one track. The first is an outtake from Same Place The Fly Got Smashed, and boy does it sound like it. It could have been swapped with Airshow '88 as the opening track, and many wouldn't even notice. The third version is from the aborted album Back To Saturn X, and it is the best of the three and utilizes the full band.

Have It Again is a short acoustic ditty from '91, and the liner notes say Little Jimmy The Giant is from 1974! It is actually a pretty decent song from a young Pollard. Taco, Buffalo, Birddog And Jesus is another Learning To Hunt track, and it is another fairly decent track.

You will notice ten out of the twenty-five songs on this disc are bolded below, so right there is proof that the songs on Suitcase are batting pretty good. I was surprised with just how decent the first disc of Suitcase was, and completely blown away by Bunco Men. Will the other discs be as good? I can't wait to get to the next one.

Tracklisting (songs in bold make my ultimate GBV/Pollard playlist/box set):

01 The Terrible Two
02 Bloodbeast
03 The Kissing Life
04 Bottoms Up! (You Fantastic Bastard)
05 Tear It Out
06 Cinnamon Flavored Skulls
07 Bunco Men
08 Bad And Rare
09 Dorothy's A Planet
10 Pluto The Skate
11 Let's Go Vike
12 Sabotage
13 Pink Drink
14 James Riot
15 It's Easy
16 Dank Star Ground Control
17 Spring Tigers
18 Born On Seaweed
19 Flesh Ears From June
20 Driving In The U.S. of A.
21 My Big Day (3 Versions)
22 Have It Again
23 Little Jimmy The Giant
24 Taco, Buffalo, Birddog And Jesus
25 Ding Dong Daddy (Is Back From The Bank)


Dan said...

the only track you didn't choose that i would've is "the kissing life." nice work

The Rock Robot said...

Ah, "The Kissing Life". I wrestled with this one and its inclusion on the playlist. You may have noticed I didn't actually say anything bad about it, nor anything too great. That is usually a hint of it being a hard decision.

Kelly said...


I just discovered your blog yesterday and have been reading it nonstop. I'm very impressed with with your knowledge and dedication, given that you came in with Human Amusements. Bob is definitely addictive to those of us with that certain ear. Of course, the rest of the world thinks we're all crazy. Anyway, keep up the good work. I thought your write-ups of Suitcase I were spot on. I might just add that we all have weird Bob tunes that become favorites, and Dorothy's A Planet is mine. It's one of the prettiest (Eric Pretty-est? :) songs I have ever heard and also the first Bob song I learned on guitar... Thanks again for all your work and keep it up. And hey, Pixies, Dinosaur, Sebadoh, it's only a matter of time 'til Bob and the boys re-unify for another drunken world assault!

Joe said...

Play Flesh Ears from June and Kicker of Elves back to back.

Jimmy said...

Well, maybe (The Amazing) Ben Zing-song "Tear it out" is the kind of song that just falls into my specific taste, but I do think it deserves more than just the single mention of its year of origin.
I mean, it's quite an amazing song, I'm pretty sure!

Cheers for a good blog, anyways. ;)

Anonymous said...

Again, I wholeheartedly concur. Same songs on my list except Bloodbeast and Dorothy's A Planet, and only because Dorothy is one of my favorites in the make-over with Boston Spaceships.