Robert Pollard With Doug Gillard
Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department
Gillard recorded all the instruments on Tascam 4-track cassette in Cleveland, then sent them via US Postal Service to Pollard who added vocals in a studio in Dayton. Eleven Pollard compositions followed, along with four songs which Pollard wrote and recorded melodies over Gillard-penned instrumentals, starting an unusual songwriting process that Pollard pursued for several years with various long-distance collaborators. Nearly half the songs on the album became staples of the GBV live set for several years, including “Pop Zeus,” “Tight Globes,” “Frequent Weaver Who Burns” and “Do Something Real,” which was featured in the Stephen Soderbergh film, Full Frontal.
FORMAT INFORMATIONLtd LP includes MP3 Download Code.
Guided By Voices is an unlikely candidate for the most perfect rock band of all time, while at the same time being a thoughtful reflection on what a rock band is, a fantasy that becomes a fact.
Pollard’s determined to establish Ricked Wicky as more than just another solo or side project: it’s a proper, self-contained group with significant contributions, both instrumental and songwriting, from guitarist Nick Mitchell (long time GBV / Pollard stalwart Kevin March supplies drums). Mitchell sings lead on two songs here, both presumably written by him as well: “Imminent Fall From Grace” and “Weekend Worriers.” The latter is a kind of “A Salty Salute” update, with Pollard taking the anthemic first chorus, but Mitchell handling the rest of the vocals. Stranger, but in some ways more interesting, is Mitchell’s other contribution. “Imminent Fall From Grace” contains probably the most straightforward, earnest lyrics ever associated with a Pollard record—and yet, bizarrely, the song fits, and fits well, with the sort of no-fucks-given experimentation on display throughout King Heavy Metal.
From the skewed-time-signature stomp (with periodic King Crimson-esque breakdowns) of “Come Into My Wigshop” to the voice-over montage intro to “Tomfoole Terrific” to the Sabbath-y riff fest (with added insane babbling chorus) of “Ogling Blarest,” the record hops from genre to genre (sometimes within the same song) with the giddy glee of a kid in a record shop. What makes King Heavy Metal different from pastiche-laden past efforts (like, say, I don’t know, Bee Thousand) is the level of technical mastery (high) and recording fidelity (high) and altered consciousness (very high) on display. Though Pollard contributes his own often-underrated guitar heroics, when Mitchell cuts loose with a solo—as he does on, for instance “Map and Key”—it’s like, “Who let Ritchie Blackmore into the studio?” The answer is probably Ritchie Blackmore let himself in the studio, because he’s Ritchie Blackmore, and has his own studio, but on “Map and Key” Mitchell’s blistering, melodic runs coil and twist around Pollard’s epically melancholic constructions with impressive brio.
King Heavy Metal is not devoid of signature Pollard moments, like the power pop chug of the album’s opener “Jargon of Clones,” or the lo-fi balladry of “Too Strong for No One to See You,” but the emphasis here is on pushing limits. While not the weirdest record in Pollard’s discography, King Heavy Metal is a very rare bird indeed. Just listen.
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