guided by voices

REVIEW: Robert Pollard with Doug Gillard – Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department (1999)

ATTENTION ALL PLANETS OF THE SOLAR FEDERATION! ATTENTION ALL PLANETS OF THE SOLAR FEDERATION! ATTENTION ALL PLANETS OF THE SOLAR FEDERATION! We have assumed control. We have assumed control. We have assumed control….

SATCHMO

 Welcome to an April Fools Day switcheroo!! Mike and I have told each other what to listen to for today’s post.  Fun times!! Initially, we were even gonna try to write in each others’ styles, and really try to fool you guys. But, as you’ll see from the album choices, it might have been a nigh on impossible task!

For Mike, I chose Robert Pollard & Doug Gillard’s ‘Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department,’ largely because Mike awesomely found it and bought it for me in Ottawa, but I already had it, so I said he should rock it himself! But it’s awesome that he’ll get to hear a bit of the MAJESTY of Bob Pollard! I can’t wait to read what he says about it…

And for me, Mike has chosen Deep Purple’s In Rock (for which I thank him profusely). And here is where I really worried about trying to write like Mike for a post. That man KNOWS his Deep Purple, and there’s no way I could bring perspective to an album he’s heard for years and probably has coded directly into his DNA by now. It just wouldn’t work. You’d all know it wasn’t Mike!

Anyway, we hope you enjoy this April Fools site switcheroo! Let’s get in there and GIVE ‘ER!!

A

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Scan_20160325 (3)ROBERT POLLARD with DOUG GILLARD – Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department (1999 Luna)

Guided By Voices have always eluded me.  Aaron says they’re brilliant but not for everybody.  This Robert Pollard “duo” album with Doug Gillard looks really interesting.  Let’s see if I’m everybody or not!

“Frequent Weaver Who Burns” is instantly likeable.  The lo-fi but genuine recording sounds right out of 1969, and the song recalls some of the best hippie rock bands from that era.  I hear a hint of 54-40’s “I Go Blind” in the guitar, but this is far more ambitious, as it descends into dance music madness.  “Soul Train College Policeman” (how the hell do they come up with these titles?) is different and indescribable, but “Pop Zeus” is brilliant.  Simple guitar melodies weave together with layers of rhythm guitars creating a power-pop rock track without embellishment.

Most of these songs are short bursts of ideas; in and out and no nonsense.  The longest track at 4:20 is “Slick as Snails”, a slow and enticing exercise in mixing sweet notes with sour notes and making a delectable concoction regardless.  Regal guitar chords keep the ship from running aground.  Power pop returns on “Do Something Real”, a simple guitar riff melded with an unorthodox melody.  In fact the album in general is built from these ingredients.  The guitars retain catchy rhythms, often classic sounding in nature.  Meanwhile the vocals are not constrained to sing anything simple or straightforward.  The lo-fi tape hiss and nature of the recordings do not detract; they enhance.  “Life is Beautiful” sounds as if recorded in the can.  Mix in a smidgen of psychedelia.  There is also a contrasting bombast on the album, a power just bursting at the seams.  Drama is often the companion of the arrangements, “Port Authority” being a fine example of this.  The short tunes meld influences varied far and wide.  Aaron hears the Who, and it’s there, and I think I even picked up on some Ace Frehley in the ring of the guitars.

Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department comes highly recommended for the musically fearless.

4.5/5 stars

 

 

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GALLERY: Four Great Finds! (with store report card – Encore Records)

During a trip to Encore Records in Kitchener, Ontario, I found some pretty cool stuff among their used discs.  I used to work with the guy behind the counter, Chris — trained him in fact.  We had a chance to catch up and discuss the difficulties of being a collector.  Piles and piles of discs, an expanding collection and lack of space for it.  Filing systems.  How easy it is to get behind in your filing.  Good to know there are still kindred spirits out there.

Thanks for the discs Chris, and without further delay…

1. VAN HALEN – In Concert

This double CD is at least partially taken from Live Without A Net, the old Van Halen home video.  That’s cool to me — some of those versions, like “Love Walks In”, were the originals that I was first familiar with.  It’s weird today hearing Sammy Hagar play guitar solos on Van Halen songs, but that’s how I first heard them.  $9 used.

2. HELIX – Wild In The Streets (Rock Candy remaster)

PROS:  These hard-to-find (in Canada) Rock Candy reissues have great liner notes and pictures.  CONS: It lacks the lyric sheet from my old Capitol Records version.  This one was expensive ($14 used) but the great Heavy Metal OverloRd tells me they are well worth it.

3. FISH – “Credo” CD single

Limited edition, #5945.  Cool?  Yeah, but how many copies did they make of a Fish single?  Anyway, this has two non-album cuts, a 7″ remix of the title track and a song called “Poet’s Moon”.  “Credo” itself is a great song from Internal Exile.  Great cover art by Mark Wilkinson!  $6 used.

4. IRON MAIDEN – Virtual XI with limited edition lenticular cover

This was a limited edition (expensive in Canada) that had a 3D cover similar to the current Kiss Monster CD.  I tried to get an idea of this in the photos.  Look at Eddie’s finger in relation to the boy’s headphones.  You can see it’s not in the same place in the two photos.  It’s much cooler in person.  Now, I know Aaron is probably going to give me shit for buying a Blaze Bayley album — any Blaze Bayley album — twice.  But it’s more about the Maiden collection than Blaze.  This is one I’d wanted back in the day but completely forgotten about.  $10 used.

REPORT CARD

Encore Records, 54 Queen St. South, Kitchener ON, (519) 744-1370

Encore is as good as as any of the stores that Aaron and I reported on in Toronto.  Sure, I’m biased in that I did train the guy behind the counter, and it was great having a conversation with somebody who understands my point of view vis-à-vis collecting.  But their selection is second-to-none in this town (rock, indi, roots, jazz, blues, vinyl), with fair prices, and excellent quality.  Not one blemish on any of the discs that I purchased.   As an added note I found a number of Guided By Voices singles for Aaron (some stealthily pictured below) — although he is apparently banned from purchasing them at this time, until he wins the lottery!

For these reasons, Encore’s grade is:

5/5 stars