Guided By Voices - Freedom Cruise/Nightwalker

This is something of a rarity, posted for serious GBV fans only (most of whom will already have this by hook or by crook). Bob Pollard and/or the GBV posse recorded this 7" (possibly while drunk) under two fictitious monikers--The Freedom Cruise and Nightwalker--for Simple Solution Records out of Dayton, OH, who released it on ugly grey vinyl back in 1994. Not Pollard's finest moment by any means. But the guy has recorded more than 1,000 songs by now, at least, so they can't all be gems.

Here's Side A, featuring The Freedom Cruise's aptly-named "Cruise"...a song so dull no one seemed to notice or mind that it didn't quite fit on the 45:

Side A - Freedom Cruise - Cruise [2 stars mp3]

Side B, Nightwalker's "Lucifer's Aching Revolver", is only slightly better:

Side B - Nightwalker - Lucifer's Aching Revolver [2 stars mp3]

So there. As much as I love GBV, I don't subscribe to the "Shit Midas" view of the band. They recorded a lot of 4-or-5-star songs, but more than a few monkey-typewritten ones too.

Guided By Voices - Fast Japanese Spin Cycle

By the time I heard this record, I was hooked on GBV. This EP was released on Engine Recordings in 1994. If you've never heard the band, give it a listen. If you have heard GBV, and you don't have this EP, then I will presume you have already hit the download link.

Re-upped March 3, 2007:

Guided By Voices - The Grand Hour

This is the first GBV record I ever heard. I think it may have been their first ever 7" record too. Released in 1992 on Scat Records, "The Grand Hour" contains six songs ranging in duration from 39 seconds to two-and-a-half minutes. Two of the songs eventually became GBV records (Alien Lanes, Bee Thousand). I have to say, my interest was certainly piqued when I heard this, but I wasn't a fan of the band at this point. This was my introduction to lo-fi indie rock, and it still holds up as a very catchy little record. I'm posting the whole EP as a .zip file, because it makes sense to hear it in one sitting. Enjoy.

Flying Saucer Attack - Keep Vinyl Alive

Self-dubbed "rural psychedelia" and "The best new band on mars", my jaw dropped the first time I heard the mysterious and alien Bristol band Flying Saucer Attack circa 1993. Their early releases were vinyl only, were pressed in limited quantities, and bore the admonishment to "Keep Vinyl Alive". It's mostly FSA's fault that I went vinyl-mad in the early-to-mid 90s. It was fun. There were no mp3s or websites, so if you heard about a cool band, you wrote to the label, received a catalog, placed your order, and waited for the happy slam of the mailbox lid. You opened the mailer, popped the record onto your turntable, and sat down to hear something that few others would ever sit down to hear. And when I heard the wall of feedback of FSA, I fell in love. Hell, I even made my own FSA t-shirt. The shirt's gone (this is for the best) but here's the design I had printed on it...yep, that's my FSA record spinning on my turntable...

Those days are gone for ever, I shoulda just let them go. And I did, sorta. I'm not convinced that FSA were right when they wrote "CDs destroy music" any more than I'm convinced that "mp3s destroy music". I'm not hell bent on being anachronistic. If I were, I wouldn't be converting my vinyl to mp3 and I certainly wouldn't be putting FSA mp3s on my blog. It's sacrilegious, perhaps. But music evolves/devolves. We're living in a period where one can buy music on vinyl, CD, or mp3 format. Sometimes even the same album. Each format has its merits and I'm not interested in declaring a winner. But for the uninitiated, here's a chance for you to sit back and listen to some FSA spinning. If you want to learn more about the band, here's a good (perhaps too good?) source: FSAFAQ. You'll see that relative to some folks, I'm hardly overly obsessed about this band. Perchance.

First let's hear "All About Dreams", one of my favourite FSA moments. It came on a 7" included with 3,000 copies of Vol 4 Issue 4 of Ptolemaic Terrascope in Spring 1994. This illustrated quarterly was published in Wiltshire, England, and it seems to have been dedicated to psychedelic and folk music, old and new. I found my order receipt inside the zine; I ordered it from Blackjack Records in Oakland CA on June 21, 1994. I paid $5.45 for the zine/7" import. In the same order I picked up FSA's "Crystal Shade" 7" ($4.20), Guided by Voices' "Fast Japanese Spin Cycle" 7" ($3.50), and Cher Doll Records' "The Amazing Phantom Third Channel" compilation 7" ($2.90). My whole order, including shipping to Canada, came to $19.17. So, for the price of one store-bought CD at that time, I got 4 great records and a very strange but interesting zine to read. This issue features articles on Velvet Underground and Jefferson Airplane, and Guided by Voices and Flying Saucer Attack (!). The latter two bands share the A-side of the 7"; the A-side is by a band called "Anglagard", who I know nothing about. GBV's inclusion is "Chicken Blows", which appears on Alien Lanes and thus will not appear here. More on GBV very soon; they're the other band that encouraged me to go vinyl-goo-goo. Here's the zine:

Here's the record (with hand-scratched label):

And, at long last, here's the song:

Side A - Flying Saucer Attack - All About Dreams [5 stars mp3]

Second up is "Soaring High" from the 7" released on US-based VHF records in 1993. Only 700 copies were pressed in this particular batch, on purple marbled vinyl. I love this song.

Side A - Flying Saucer Attack - Soaring High [5 stars mp3]

For my final selection, I've decided to post FSA's cover of Wire's "Outdoor Miner" from a 7" released on the UK label Domino Records in 1995. I think it nicely illustrates the benefits of not being too attached to one technology. The A-side of my 45 "pops" badly for the first 30 seconds, so I never really enjoyed listening to this song. But, by converting it to an mp3, I was able to use the so-so Audacity software to sorta remove the pops (granted I did a hack job of it). So, without the old technology I'd never be able to hear the song, and without the new technology I'd never be able to hear the song in its proper form. Well, there are some flaws in my logic, but let's never mind them.

You can actually SEE the pops here:

And you can hear them in this 30-second clip:
Outdoor Miner sample with pops [mp3]

Here's the record sleeve:

And here's the final version of the song, de-popped:

Side A - Flying Saucer Attack - Outdoor Miner [3 stars mp3]

It's still not my favourite FSA song, although it's the most accessible of the three, and it certainly sounds better without the pops. Who'd have thunk the pops would matter in the midst of all that noise? Well, me, obviously.

I'm curious to know what you think. Post a comment.

Eric's Trip - Redhaired Girl/All I Want To Do

Absent punctuation aside, there can be no doubt that this trip to Stereo Mountain was taken by none other than Eric. There was definitely something potent in the water, never mind the molluscs, in the early 90s on the east coast of Canada, spawning bands such as Eric's Trip, Sloan, Jale, and many more. I was lucky enough to see Eric's Trip in a tiny, packed venue in Winnipeg before the band disintegrated, bifurcating Julie Doiron from Rick White and crew. It was one of the loudest, sweatiest, and best all-out indie rock shows I've ever seen. Ah, memory. Disques NIM, based in Eric's Trip's hometown of Moncton, New Brunswick, released 500 copies of this great EP in 1992 and it was so popular they printed another 500 and I managed to get my meat hooks on one. Here are both songs from the B-side. "Redhaired girl" absolutely nails the infectiousness that indie poppers strive for and thrive on, and "All I Want To Do" showcases the band's introspective, somewhat stoned and congested, and intimate side.

Side B - Eric's Trip - Redhaired Girl [5 stars mp3]

Side B - Eric's Trip - All I Want To Do [4 stars mp3]

Erectus Monotone - Glider

What a great band name. I used to have an Erectus Monotone T-shirt, and man, was it ugly, but the band name made up for it. I eventually donated it to Value Village, and now I wonder if it's someone's prized T, or if Mrs. Crabtree heedlessly polishes her oak dining suite with it. I prefer to think the former. I also prefer this Chapel Hill, NC band's poppier moments, which are fewer than their skronkier ones. "Glider" was mp3ized from the Soul Taker/Glider 7" released on Merge Records in 1992.

Side B - Erectus Monotone - Glider [4 stars mp3]

East River Pipe - Fan the Flame/Sleeping with Tallboy

Here are two of FM Cornog's early NY-apartment-recorded 4-track songs, from the Bring on the Loser 7", released on Merge Records in 1995. "Sleeping with Tallboy" predates Sleeping States' similarly lovely "Rivers" by a good decade, so Booyah to East River Pipe. "Fan the Flame" is a short instrumental that works well as an appetizer for the main course.

Side B - East River Pipe - Fan the Flame [3 stars mp3]

Side B - East River Pipe - Sleeping with Tallboy [5 stars mp3]

The A-side song "Bring on the Loser" is compiled on the excellent "Poor Fricky" CD that was released on Sarah Records in 1994; it may still be available via Merge. Poor Fricky indeed:

Drugstore - Fader (4-track demo)

Drugstore took their name from the movie Drugstore Cowboy, but I find their music more uplifting than the substances Matt Dillon and crew sought. "Fader" comes from the B-side of a 10" released on UK-based Honey Records in 1994.

Side B - Drugstore - Fader (4-track demo) [4 stars mp3]

Doldrums - XA

VHF was a cool indie label; they championed Flying Saucer Attack into the limelight in North America after all. More about FSA later. Here's "XA", the A-side of a one-sided sleeveless 7" by Doldrums. I believe it cost me a buck way back when. Very atmospheric, it is. But then, so was the non-existent B-side when I accidentally tried to play it back in the day.

Side A - Doldrums - XA [2 stars mp3]

Dinosaur - Repulsion

I seem to have only a miniature handful of D-bands on vinyl. "Repulsion" is from the first 7" by Dinosaur, before they were required to don the Jr. It was released on Homestead Records in 1985. One might think that such a classic would fetch large denomination coinage on the open market, but this baby can be had for a mere USD$6 (though I've seen it for USD$17.25); its true worth probably lies somewhere in between.

Side A - Dinosaur - Repulsion [3 stars mp3]