Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Guided By Voices: Dayton, Ohio - 19 Something And 5 (2000)

GBV embraces vinyl, which is probably one of the most annoying things about the band, for someone like me living in a city in Canada which has maybe one store which actually sells the stuff. I own exactly two vinyl records, of which I do not have the record player to listen to them on: Robert Pollard's Love is Strong Than Witchcraft, and GBV"s Bee Thousand - The Director's Cut. Since I can't actually play them, I have never heard the live version of Dolphin's Of Color which is sitting on the desk next to me. Luckily, Scat Records was cool enough to include the extra tracks of the Bee Thousand album on a CD so I could actually hear them. This particular single/EP was a vinyl only release so I will likely never own it. Of course, all the songs were released a year later on Selective Service, so I can still post an entry...

When writing my entry for Tonics And Twisted Chasers, I wrote
"...the nostalgic and beautiful Dayton Ohio - 19 Something And 5. There is a live version of this track on Selective Service which I find myself playing more often, yet this one sounds more depressing which I think is partly the point...". I still mostly agree with this statement, where this live version skims away some of the gloom from the studio version, and ends up more upbeat. Also, the term "live" is surprising, because this version sounds just a good as a studio take. It is not too often a single comes out four years or so after the original, but this version of Dayton, Ohio - 19 Something And 5 is an excellent update/cleanup of the original.

Travels is what I would consider a bad GBV song. Not unlistenable mind you, just not very good, and not special in any way. It is just Pollard and his guitar with some short lyrics at the very beginning followed by repetitive guitar. Songs like this serve well on a longer album as they just sit around in the background, often bridging two incredible tunes. However, on an EP, it is far easier to pick off these songs because they are out there on the tip of your attention. On the same front, No Welcome Wagons blends right in with Travels, and pretty much sounds like the same song. The third track in this batch (all Pollard alone with his guitar), Selective Service, manages to stand out from the other two just by being different (and including some Velvet Underground-ish random static).

This is near the bottom of GBV related releases, though when included on the GBV/Airport 5 split Selective Service, is strengthened by the better Airport 5 tunes. And of course, as with even the worst of GBV's offerings, there is at least the one gem. That gem in this case is the title track, Dayton, Ohio - 19 Something And 5
Tracklisting (Songs in bold make my ultimate GBV/Pollard playlist/box set):

01 Dayton, Ohio - 19 Something And 5 (Live)
02 Travels
03 No Welcome Wagons
04 Selective Service

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments here. The full-band version of "Dayton, Ohio --19 Something and 5," like full-band versions of "Drinker's Peace" and other songs, rocks, and that's satisfying. But they do lose some of the emotional impact (nostalgia, melancholy, whatever) of the stripped down versions. Still, it's a testament to Pollard's skill at crafting songs that lend themselves to different treatments.

The Rock Robot said...

I think part of it, also, is that bands like to give fans a special treat at live shows by either making a song heavier, slower, or just completely different. A good example of GBV taking a song to a whole new level live is the live version of "I Am Produced" in the Hardcore UFO's box set.

Anonymous said...

It's me, Anonymous, again. Anyway, I can't believe I never realized this before, nor have I seen any mention in the GBV discussion groups, but the song is obviously influenced by Randy Newman's "Dayton, Ohio -- 1903."

The Colonel said...

Are you kidding me...Travels, No Welcome Wagons, and Selective Service are all awesome. I think they are unique, authentic, and beautifu...something missing from most of modern music.

I mean:

"Strenuous
Laborous
Don't preach, reach!
You know God loves you when you try
Of the same blood that stirs
Making men mean
Wake up fresh
And take a rake
Give up the blues
Let's build something less fake"

It doesn't get much better than that!

Anonymous said...

The track Selective Service sounds great in its spot on Crickets and I quite like the others too when they pop up on random play. The title track is wonderful and essential. It's such a sad little EP though, and I haven't divorced since I got it so it rarely gets played.