An earful o'wax

YOU SAY YOU were the first on your block to own Universal Truths and Cycles, and you've got all the Guided by Voices albums, right down to that four-CD box set of Bob Pollard's demos, Suitcase: Failed Experiments and Trashed Aircraft. Feeling pretty smug now, are you? O brother, where start thou!

First of all, get thee hence to the Web—to—lest the gods of record collector intemperance smite thee before you can score the limited-to-500, not-available-in-stores, two-LP Acid Ranch album, Some of the Magic Syrup Was Preserved. Back in the pre-GBV era, Pollard, his brother Jim, and Mitch Mitchell drank beer, smoked boo, and recorded songs (kinda like they would during the GBV era) under the Acid Ranch moniker. These 37 hiss-and-dropout-ridden tracks make explicit the so-called "uncut diamonds in shit" effect.

Among the highlights: a Daniel Johnston-esque surf ditty called "Frogmen" (sample lyric: "You are my heroes/Twenty fathom faggots/Oh frogmen/Sing your song"); a thumping, minimalist Who/T. Rex pastiche, "Underdogs"; a monstrous garage jam boasting the kind of Pollard song title ("Exploratory Rat Fink Committee") that, in the future, GBV devotees would slobber over; and the seven-minute acoustic epic "Beatles and Stones," which finds Pollard musing, John Lennon-style and somewhat prematurely, upon the trappings of rock 'n' roll stardom—"Success doesn't exist/Success is drugs if you want it/Got love if you want it/But no one wants it."

The album, incidentally, is release No. 19 in Pollard's Fading Captain Series of GBV-related projects; earlier this year saw No. 18 (Life Starts Here by Airport 5, the Pollard-Tobin Sprout collaboration) and No. 17 (Calling Zero by Go Back Snowball, Pollard with Superchunk's Mac McCaughan). Just out are Nos. 20 through 23, a.k.a. "The Universal Truths and Cycles Singles Set," comprising four seven-inch singles, each containing exclusive art and nonalbum B-sides. "Dig Through My Window" is a classic midtempo GBV jangler, while both "Beg for a Wheelbarrow" and "Visit This Place" are swaggering, crunching power-pop gems, the latter featuring a guitar riff nicked from Sweet's "Love Is Like Oxygen." And the densely packed "Action Speaks Volumes" finds GBV in an impressive prog-cum-Quadrophenia frame of mind.

And now for something completely different: The Completed Soundtrack for The Tropic of Nipples (Off Records), credited to Pollard, erstwhile rock critic Richard Meltzer, and noise deconstructionists Smegma and Antler. Included are live recordings by the late '70s Meltzer-Angry Samoans team-up, Vom, that might not interest die-hard GBV fan boys (their loss—Vom was dynamic, tuneful, and confrontational, as song titles like "Electrocute Your Cock" might suggest). Too, the psych- collage freak-outs on the 2002 material may send those fans screaming for their copies of Bee Thousand. Schmucks—it's experimental music, with Pollard (backed by Antler) and Meltzer (by Smegma) alternating on songwriting/singing duties. Picks to click: Pollard's shuddery, industrial-Krautrock droner "Ovarian Angel Architect" and Meltzer's "The Sonny Liston Fan Club," a nightmare poetry reading over a skronky swirl of free jazz. Your duty, all you GBV collectors, is embarrassingly clear.

Fred Mills

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