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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Baseball Card Sunday: Robert Pollard, GBV

My Kind of Wright State Raider

ju

Robert Pollard is a songwriter and the man behind the band Guided By Voices.

Here’s what I know about the card.  It’s 3 of 10.

...As you can see from the back of the card, he could have been your former teacher.

If you don’t know Guided by Voices, they are worth checking out.  They have a greatest hits called Human Amusements at Hourly Rates.

If you want songs, check out Motor Away, A Salty Salute, Tractor Rape Chain, and Game of Pricks.

Mr. Pollard played at Wright State University and pitched a no-hitter.  So I declare this weekend Robert Pollard weekend!!!  Have a good one.

Repoz Posted: October 28, 2012 at 06:34 PM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, music

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: October 28, 2012 at 06:51 PM (#4286208)
Hey, I sort of look like Pollard!

I once saw GBV in Central Park. It was the first time my ex and I had hung out. I had taken ecstacy for the first time the night before and was basically brain dead when I met up with her. We had very little to talk about as we waited for them to go on. Then they came on, Pollard proceeded to drink 6 beers in like 2 songs and danced around the stage like someone who had just had 6 beers in 6 minutes. My mood changed. She left early without saying goodbye. I stayed for the whole set.

Now, I feel old. Hey, I sort of look like Pollard.
   2. I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape Posted: October 28, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4286233)
I got to see GBV a couple of years ago when the 'classic' mid-90s lineup reunited. They put on hell of a show even though Tobin Sprout kind of looks like a weirdo. Bob was dancing and drinking like a man half his age and the band sounded real good. And this was the night after I saw The Clean and Barbara Manning, so it was an awesome couple of concert days.
   3. The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward Posted: October 28, 2012 at 07:50 PM (#4286245)
GBV has to be one of the most frustrating bands to listen to. Amidst all of their great stuff, there's a lot, a lot, a lot of filler. Like, take Alien Lanes. You cut that album down to 13 tracks and it's probably my favorite album of the 90s (that's not true, but definitely top 5). Unfortunately Alien Lanes is 28 tracks. Same could be said for Bee Thousand & Propeller.

That said, I saw them at the Riv in Chicago during their reunion tour in, like, 2010. And of course they were amazing. Stood next to a speaker, couldn't hear out of my left ear for a week.

FWIW here's my edited Alien Lanes album:
1. A Salty Salute
2. Watch Me Jumpstart
3. As We Go Up, We Go Down
4. Game of Pricks
5. A Good Flying Bird
6. Closer You Are
7. Motor Away
8. My Valuable Hunting Knife
9. Blimps Go 90
10. Strawdogs
11. Little Whirl
12. My Son Cool
13. Always Crush Me
   4. Curse of the Graffanino (dfan) Posted: October 28, 2012 at 08:09 PM (#4286269)
Alien Lanes is one of my top 10 albums of all time, and I wouldn't take out a single song. The whole album plays like one perfect medley to me. If you take out the connective tissue the hits don't have any context to stand out against. The chunks are the highlight of a bowl of ice cream but you wouldn't want your bowl of ice cream to be all chunks and no ice cream.

The best song not on your list, by my estimation, is Chicken Blows or Striped White Jets.

I have 82 CDs of Pollard material (I just counted) so, yeah, I am a fanatic. Don't take my opinion too seriously.
   5. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: October 28, 2012 at 08:14 PM (#4286276)
I still like Bee Thousand the most.
   6. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: October 28, 2012 at 08:23 PM (#4286288)
alien lanes or under the bushes for me.
how could you leave out striped white jets?
   7. Curse of the Graffanino (dfan) Posted: October 28, 2012 at 09:33 PM (#4286486)
Under The Bushes Under The Stars is great too (probably my second-favorite GBV) but I had to learn to listen to the last six songs separately. They were originally a distinct EP that got tacked onto the CD. Those songs are great too but if I listen to the whole thing straight through I get fatigued.

The most underrated album from this period is Pollard's first solo one, Not In My Airforce. A bunch of stone cold classics on that one. But you have to do the same thing, leave off the last six acoustic-guitar-and-vocals songs that were tacked on from what was intended to be another EP.
   8. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: October 28, 2012 at 09:55 PM (#4286540)
I won tickets to see GBV a little over 10 years ago... New Pornographers opened & were the band I really wanted to see.
The Pornographers were great fun, and GBV was kinda boring. I enjoyed Pollard's Roger Daltrey moves, but that was about it.
   9. sotapop Posted: October 28, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4286588)
hey, is Gold Star for Robot Boy still around BTF? This would be his thread...
   10. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 28, 2012 at 11:03 PM (#4286706)
"Ex-Supermodel" is the one with the snoring, right? You gotta have that one. It's hilarious.

Alien Lanes feels like you could cut a lot out of it, but what would you actually cut? You can get rid of stuff like "Big Chief Chinese Restaurant," but that's less than a minute, so big deal. Might as well leave it as it is.

Bee Thousand, on the other hand, feels totally tight to me.
   11. plink Posted: October 28, 2012 at 11:27 PM (#4286801)
Bee Thousand is pretty solid from start to finish.

Saw GBV in '93 or '94 in a smallish room. Pollard spent a good 5 or 6 songs passed out on the floor.
   12. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: October 29, 2012 at 01:51 AM (#4287103)
I've seen GBV about 12-15 times, including two of the reunion so-called classic lineups.

If you count the number of great songs he's written, Robert Pollard just may be the best songwriter in rock-n-roll history. To be sure, there is a lot of crap and filler but between 18 albums, countless EPs, tons of singles with generous b-sides, and a few box sets worth of previously unreleased material, the count of great songs probably excedes Lennon/McCarthy, Jaggers/Richards, Dylan, and whomever else you may consider a candidate.
   13. KT's Pot Arb Posted: October 29, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4287278)
GBV is my all time favorite band ... to poop on.

it takes a tremendous songwriter to keep recycling the same tired riffs, most of which were stolen from other, better bands.
   14. RJ in TO Posted: October 29, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4287341)
hey, is Gold Star for Robot Boy still around BTF? This would be his thread...

He is, but he mostly goes by Gold Star - just Gold Star now.
   15. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: October 29, 2012 at 01:01 PM (#4287372)
Another great Pollard solo album is Waved Out. Rumbling Joker FTW
   16. eddieot Posted: October 29, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4287419)
Saw them many, many times and Pollard was always the most interesting man in the room. My theory is that he just records every single thing he plays all the time because he may not remember it later. It works. I agree there is lots of filler released but everything is so short and catchy that the clunkers are over before they start to bother you. And the payoff from the truly great songs is frequent.
   17. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: October 29, 2012 at 06:44 PM (#4287726)
He is, but he mostly goes by Gold Star - just Gold Star now.
Hello!
hey, is Gold Star for Robot Boy still around BTF? This would be his thread...
As I've said before, because I was listening to GBV when initially registering at BBTF, I could just as easily have the handle "Cut-Out Witch."
   18. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: October 29, 2012 at 09:17 PM (#4287882)
If you count the number of great songs he's written, Robert Pollard just may be the best songwriter in rock-n-roll history. To be sure, there is a lot of crap and filler but between 18 albums, countless EPs, tons of singles with generous b-sides, and a few box sets worth of previously unreleased material, the count of great songs probably excedes Lennon/McCarthy, Jaggers/Richards, Dylan, and whomever else you may consider a candidate.


This is the single most ridiculous thing I've read this year.
   19. PreservedFish Posted: October 29, 2012 at 10:27 PM (#4287964)
It is possible that Pollard beats McCarthy and Jaggers.
   20. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: October 29, 2012 at 10:36 PM (#4287972)
This is the single most ridiculous thing I've read this year.

How familiar are you with the complete works of GBV? I don't think it's an outlandish statement. If you want to discuss influences and cultural impact, sure, the Beatles, Stones and Dylan beat Pollard. But I'm considering the number of great songs he's written. I haven't done a formal study or anything (and yes, if a study were to be conducted, it would be totally subjective), but Robert Pollard certainly belongs in the conversation.
   21. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: October 30, 2012 at 07:04 AM (#4288113)
The key is in understanding exactly how vastly prolific Pollard has been. The Guided By Voices song database lists 837 titles; Wikipedia says that he has registered over 1,500 songs with BMI. The Beatles, for example, recorded 227 songs that were written by one or more group members -- 26 by George, 2 by Ringo, and 199 (at least partially) by Lennon and/or McCartney (plus one more by George Martin). The Paul McCartney Project says that Paul has played on or written 967, but this includes covers and songs written by other Beatles and so forth. Some random person on the internet said that Paul himself has written around 700. So if we say it's 700 and say he has a Greatness Rate of .400 (a very generous estimate), that gives him 280 great songs. Pollard would only need to bat .186 to match Paul in total great songs.

Robert Pollard is a guy with great counting stats but who uses up a lot of outs.

OTOH, Pollard's songs are on average probably half the length of McCartney's, so he wastes less time getting through the chaff.

Pollard's worse songs are probably worse (or at least more pointless) than McCartney's, so the trough is lower.
   22. PreservedFish Posted: October 30, 2012 at 09:34 AM (#4288156)
Robert Pollard is a guy with great counting stats but who uses up a lot of outs.


There isn't really a baseball equivalent to what you're talking about here. It would be like if Reggie Sanders had 20,000 ABs.
   23. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: October 30, 2012 at 09:54 AM (#4288163)
If we're talking best songwriters of the 90s, I'll take Stephen Merritt.
   24. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: October 30, 2012 at 10:08 AM (#4288174)
If we're talking best songwriters of the 90s, I'll take Stephen Merritt.


agreed.

Pollard's worse songs are probably worse (or at least more pointless) than McCartney's, so the trough is lower.


impossible. McCartney's worst songs are the worst songs in the world.
   25. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: October 30, 2012 at 10:41 AM (#4288204)
Merritt pre- (and including) 69LS would be my favorite as well, but I've found his subsequent stuff (no, not in the 90s) more hit and miss. That said, I just listened to his Gothic Archies album - even that iffy side project has a few absolute gems.
   26. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: October 30, 2012 at 11:05 AM (#4288225)
In 2004 and 2005 I went to four consecutive weddings that featured Merrit's "The Book of Love" as the first dance. By wedding #3 I was firmly convinced that you can't dance to that song.

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