Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Guided By Voices: Hardcore UFOs : Delicious Pie & Thank You For Calling (2003)

I was listening to the new Fading Captain Series greatest hits collection Crickets in my car to and from work today, and it definitely got me in the mood to write a post today (and of course one is due). Continuing on with Hardcore UFOs, I am going to tackle the unreleased collection Delicious Pie & Thank You For Calling. Unlike the Suitcase collections, this particular unreleased collection has some order to it. Tracks 1-6 are early 8-track/boombox recordings (recorded late 80's), 7-11 are outtakes from Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia (1989), 15-18 are Do The Collapse demos, and 19-22 are Mag Earwhig! demos. How does this compilation stack up against, say, a Suitcase disc? Generally, I would have to say it is not quite up to par...

Let's start off with the Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia outtakes (the album where GBV really started to show their weirder side). 7 Strokes To Heaven's Edge is a charming acoustic ballad, while Fire 'Em Up, Abner is the exact opposite; a driven, repetitive rocker which generally overstays its welcome after three minutes.

Harboring Exiles is oozing punk with some catchy lyrics ("As such the dream up here is falling/I'll keep it close until the pattern breaks/And when it breaks the dream is over/The kind of thing that makes me sing"). Still Worth Nothing has a great chorus, and it shares the lyric "Speed up, slow down, go all around in the end" with Tractor Rape Chain from Bee Thousand. It is on the edge of making the playlist. Lastly, Never has something underlying its simple melody which might evolve after more listens, but I'll keep it off the list for now.

The Do The Collapse demos start off with I Invented The Moonwalk (And the Pencil Sharpener). This track is obviously the demo which became Whiskey Ships on Robert Pollard's 1998 solo album Waved Out, and as such does not even come close to capturing that track's greatness, but still provides an interesting take on its early stages. One has to wonder how Whiskey Ships would have sounded with the slick production of Do The Collapse.

The Fly Into Ashes demo is almost identical to the version on the Hold On Hope EP, however with a large dip in quality. The Various Vaults Of Convenience features Pollard coughing in the middle, and Trashed Aircraft (which is important in title alone) is not quite as heavy as the version of Suitcase, and I prefer the Suitcase version over this one.

Now for the Mag Earwhig! demos. This box set features both the demo of Running Off With The Fun City Girls (on this album) and the studio version on the Demons & Painkiller disc. Once again, I am going to have to side with the cleaner version (though I love the sound of the lead guitar on the demo). As for the Bulldog Skin demo, Pollard let's us know when the "kick ass part" is coming up, which of course sounds even more kick ass on the studio version. Demos of Portable Men's Society and Choking Tara also cannot be compared to their magnificent studio versions (or should I say the "creamy" version of Choking Tara?).

This compilation has its shares of throwaways as well. The first track I is almost annoying with Pollard yelping "I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I" repeatedly, and H-O-M-E starts off with a voicemail recording before breaking into an early-Ween-ish track. You're The Special is the same three second riff repeated continuously and features the lyric "Before she or he or me or you or them and us and them and you and knowin it". Lastly, Slave Your Beetle Brain is a complete song in reverse.

Not quite throwaways, but still fairly mediocre, are the reverb-ballads Perhaps We Were Swinging and Mother & Son, the dark and poetic They, and the Concert For Todd version of Man Called Aerodynamics (which is practically a demo version).

There are two more gems on this collection though. A track which shares a title and main lyric with Go Back Snowball's It Is Divine, but is otherwise a completely different tune. Pollard manages at least three separate melodies which are put together to create a fairly great tune (even though the quality is on the lower end). Also, likely the star on this disc is the full version of Back To Saturn X, which was previously known only as a snippet on Propeller's Back To Saturn X Radio Report. Easily, this is the most rocking track on the CD, and is a must have for GBV fans (though I will likely edit out the minute of laughing at the end).

Basically after Back To Saturn X and It Is Divine, there is nothing to spectacular on this album. The demos from Do The Collapse and Mag Earwhig! are interesting, but all suffer from all things demo-ish. The outtakes from Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia are pretty decent, and would for the most part fit in nicely with an extended version of that album. Overall, this is on the lower end of GBV-related albums.

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

01 I
02 Back To Saturn X
03 H-O-M-E
04 You're The Special
05 Perhaps We Were Swinging
06 Mother & Son
07 7 Strokes To Heaven's Edge
08 Fire 'Em Up, Abner
09 Harboring Exiles
10 Still Worth Nothing
11 Never
12 Slave Your Beetle Brain
13 It Is Divine (Different Version)
14 They
15 I Invented The Moonwalk (And The Pencil Sharpener)
16 Fly Into Ashes (Demo)
17 The Various Vaults Of Convenience
18 Trashed Aircraft
19 Running Off With The Fun City Girls (Demo)
20 Bulldog Skin (Demo)
21 Portable Men's Society (Demo)
22 Choking Tara (Demo)
23 Man Called Aerodynamics (Concert For Todd Version)


The Doorman said...

The big revelation of the Hardcore UFOs boxset to me was listening to tracks 5-10 of this disc. All recorded at Steve Wilbur's 8-track garage at the end of the 80s. Oh my god.. You really should reconsider "Mother & Son", hauntingly beautiful!
Keep up the good work! I'm curious about your remarks on the latest Pollard albums. I kind of stopped buying his stuff after the disappointing Fiction Man .

sisu_finn said...

Fire 'Em Up, Abner can over stay its welcome always,

Anonymous said...

Fire Em Up Abner and Liar's Tale are my favorite 80s tracks; I'm surprised that you disliked them both. The former should be covered by Thee Oh Seas if they haven't done it already. I like the feel of those Wilbur songs too; 88 was clearly a pivotal year for Bob's songwriting.

I actually enjoy Slave Your Beetle Brain a lot! Not In My Airforce would lose some character without that little snippet too.
I also prefer the demo version of Choking Tara. Creamy/Mag/demo would have made a nice 7" actually.