Thursday, May 18, 2006

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

Overall, Disc Three is probably better than Disc Two. After a few listens, some songs really started to mesh with me, and I really began enjoying the disc as an album in its own right. The quality here is surprisingly good (not sound quality mind quality), and hidden among the hiss are some nice melodies. Scattered throughout Disc Three are the usual suspects for the Suitcase box set; aborted album tracks from Learning to Hunt, Power of Suck, A Concert for Todd, and The Corpse Like Sleep of Stupidity, outtakes from Bee Thousand and Same Place the Fly Got Smashed, and a bunch of 80's tunes...

Long Way To Run, a track from 1987, kicks things off. This could have been put on Sandbox and been the first single (or on Devil Between My Toes, and been the fifth single). Mr. Media is a track that gets more interesting on repeated listenings, but can be summed up as Pollard and his guitar creating a demo for what will one day be a better song.

The Learning to Hunt track Settlement Down has a wicked and rocking intro, and would have sounded great on Same Place The Fly Got Smashed. Unfortunately, the rest of the song does not live up to that great guitar riff at the beginning and scattered throughout. I will put Settlement Down on the maybe list for now. Mr. Japan is a leaned back jam track with signature Pollard vocals ("Indirect Corinthians step to the rocket/Coming back to the world with cash in his pocket"). The beautiful 1984 live track A Kind of Love follows, and I must ask if anyone knows if there is a studio version of this? Everything from the soft opening, and the song picking up in the middle is perfect.

Meddle is dark and gloomy, and definately has the feel of Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia era songs. It is on the revisit list for now, and I am still slightly undecided. The Hazzard Hotrods are next with Big Trouble, and eight minute (almost) jam session, and likely my favorite Hazzard Hotrods track. A Good Circuitry Soldier starts out with Robert Pollard saying "I do not know what will happen with this...", which partly reveals his recording style of just making music without having a defined destination for the song. It is a fairly decent acoustic ditty. Devil Doll is a Same Place the Fly Got Smashed outtake, and was likely left off because the album was weird enough as it was.

Pantherz is from GBV's most popular album never to be released, The Power of Suck. Put the distortion to the max, and add a layer of Pollard melody, and you have yourself a fairly rocking cut. From 1980 is Cocaine Jane, a minute of acoustic greatness. Exploding Anthills has some vocal effect (tremolo?) which makes it sound like Pollard is singing underwater. Disc Three is filled with these tracks which are in no way spectacular, but so original that I don't want to leave them off the box set. However, there are better songs which I have left off the playlist...

Perch Warble is such a great song, I cannot believe it did not find itself on a regular album. However, this version is plagued by poor sound quality. The good news is that there is an unbelievably rocking version on Suitcase 2! Medley is of course, a medley of three songs. I'd rather have three different tracks, but in this case, they fit together fairly decently. What Are We Coming Up To? sounds like the fourth part of the previous medley. It is a brooding acoustic track which probably wouldn't have fit that well with its originally destined album, Bee Thousand. Scissors and the Clay On(In) is a happy little song, which is also an outtake from Bee Thousand.

Cody's Antler is an instrumental that would sound great on a gritty spaghetti western. Once in a While is an oldie from 1986, and other than being a fairly ordinary slower track, contains a great finish ("Now I know it's not so impossible/Now I know we can go/Back to where we were/We're back to where we'll be"). Oh my, the version of Buzzards and Dreadful Crows on Disc Three does not even compare to its Bee Thousand brother. I might enjoy putting it on a disc which contains the Bee Thousand version too...maybe one at track one, and the other the last track.

I was waiting for Carnival at the Morning Star School to pick up. It seemed that it was building to something, but never got there. But still, it fits enough melody into its minute long length to earn inclusion to my playlist. Cruise is a fuzz-filled gloomer of a song, with a constant beat throughout, and is one of GBV's darker tracks. A nice guitar solo near the end is the perfect touch. Gayle (along with Gift) may be the closest thing to a throwaway on this disc. However, this song sounds exactly like Deathtrot and Warlock Riding a Rooster, except with less casio keyboard, and more hiss. The Flying Party is another minuter, and may be the creepiest song on the disc. The last track, Trashed Aircraft, is begging for a re-recording.

I think Disc Three now has the most songs on my playlist from the three Suitcase discs I've went through so far. It is definately the most consistently good disc in the box set (so far), but I would still go with Disc One if I could only choose one (mostly because of Bunco Men). Overall, Suitcase is looking like it is well worth your hard earned cash.

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

01 Long Way To Run
02 Mr. Media
03 Settlement Down
04 Mr. Japan
05 A Kind Of Love
06 Meddle
07 Big Trouble
08 A Good Circuitry Soldier
09 Devil Doll
10 Pantherz
11 Cocaine Jane
12 Exploding Anthills
13 Perch Warble *
14 Medley: This View/True Sensation/On The Wall
15 What Are We Coming Up To?
16 Scissors And The Clay Ox(In)
17 Cody's Antler
18 Once In A While
19 Buzzards And Dreadful Crows
20 Carnival At The Morning Star School
21 Cruise
22 Gayle
23 Gift
24 The Flying Party
25 Trashed Aircraft

* I'll take the version from Suitcase 2


Karl Bakla said...

I have a few singles & a couple albums but how does one keep up with everything GBV has ever put out

jazman said...

Get a second job to afford the discs!

The Rock Robot said...

It is surely a costly endeavor.

Anonymous said...

Don't buffer the assault of the medicine man!

Anonymous said...

I've got fewer songs from disc 3 than any of the others, but only because I got to it later than you and had preferred versions elsewhere, especially the outstanding 4 on Zero To 99. Then there's the Cruise 7", the Pantherz band version from Jellyfish Reflector, The Flying Party is basically a part of the wonderful Beekeeper Seeks Ruth (but works well on its own too) and, as you say, Perch Warble on Suitcase 2. So, this one's got its share of magic too.

On my list:

Long Way To Run
Carnival At The Morning Star School
Devil Doll
Settlement Down

Bob's a dead ringer for Daniel Johnston on Devil Doll. On the fire-throwing line it's downright spooky. There's a book out where a fan basically lists his Bob Top 100 - 1 song per page, but instead of analyzing or often even describing the song, the page is fleshed out by a big grainy b&w picture of the album cover...bit of a rip-off, especially compared to this great blog. Anyhoo; Devil Doll makes his list and he all but apologizes for it. Knowing that somewhere out there someone agrees with me (and Bob) that Devil Doll is worth releasing/purchasing almost makes me say the same about his book.