Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Robert Pollard - Waved Out

Robert Pollard
Waved Out


Released 1998 on Matador
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 28/10/2006ce


When discussing the subject of Robert Pollard/Guided By Voices I am incredibly biased. I happen to think he is the greatest songwriter of all time. I am certainly a huge fan of Peter Townshend, Ray Davies, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Arthur Lee, Peter Hammill etc. and I am certainly not trying to knock those people (at least musically) in any way. But Pollard is another story altogether, in terms of what I would call top drawer songs, this guy is off the charts. I first got into Guided By Voices in 1993 and I have been a die hard fan ever since. GBV fans are kinda like Grateful Dead fans in terms of loyalty and belief, and GBV shows got awfully close to a religious experience at times when they were really on. The big difference between GBV and the Dead is the Grateful Dead have sucked shit since 1971 (in my opinion) and Pollard and company get better all the time. Guided By Voices broke up in 1994, and it wasn't really big news throughtout the music world. It should have been though, I almost cried when I heard the news. They should erect statues to Pollard and crew (Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Doug Gillard, Greg Demos and all the rest.)
There were many reasons I loved GBV, for starters they were of my age group and they were not posers in any sense of the term. Hell these guy looked like guys I used to smoke reefer and drink Schmidt's beer with back in the mid 70's. They just struck a mighty chord with me, they were true heroes to me. Let's face it all our beloved 60's heroes disappointed us in the biggest ways possible. Just about every last one of them sold their asses to Madison Avenue. They all turned into exactly what they were supposedly against, the old saying comes to mind "what you condemn you will one day become." Anyone wanna buy a $2,000 Avalon poster?, Dennis Hopper doing Ameriprise commercials during the World Series, and not to forget Jennifer Aniston wearing an MC5 shirt (kick out the jams man!!!!) But Pollard and GBV never let me down, I'm glad they broke up when they did, like Red Sox slugger Ted Williams (who hit a home run in a half empty Fenway Park on his last career at bat), GBV quit while on top. Their final number on their final album "Huffman Prairie Flying Field" was the motherfucking career ending song of all time (also a home run in my book.)
The good news is Bob Pollard continues to make fantastic solo records and will forever.
Now onto the business at hand "Waved Out" was Bob's second full length solo record cut back in 1998. I remember when I bought it, I grabbed a couple of Ballintine Ales and drove out to the Lake Zoar refreshment stand in Oxford, Connecticut and had a foot long hot dog with the "works" and just dug this album to the max for several hours (I had to get more beer to do it right!!)
Opening with the mighty "Make Use" the album opens with a torpedo, this song was performed by GBV and was a real high point of their shows, it has a kick like Maximus Super Beer (from Utica, New York.) "Vibrations In The Woods" is more psychedelic, it contains a wicked backbeat and a full spoonful of Bob's always ace lyrics. "Just Say The Word" is one of those creepy acid ballads that Bob could probably write in his sleep. "Subspace Biographies" is another highpoint, this track is an all time Pollard classic (among about 2000 others), it contains the brilliant lines "I do my job each day, empties crushed and fired away."
"Caught Waves Again" is a demented Pollard freakout ballad that's AOK. "Waved Out" is true "gorilla beat" and was always well performed at GBV shows.
"Whiskey Ships" is another powerful GBV like rocker with the power of a "Sudden" Sam McDowell fast ball. "Wrinkled Ghost" is positively stunning, this song will melt your soul on the first listen, try to think of Arthur Lee at his best and you'd be right there. "Artificial Light" is a haunting bummer-type ballad that shifts into the even more haunting "People Are Leaving", this number features an eerie double-talking vocal by Pollard and spooky piano, this reminds me of driving through the grounds of the abandoned Norwich State Hospital in Norwich/Preston, Connecticut (and trust me that is plenty spooky.)
"Steeple Of Knives" sounds like "154" era Wire fused with The Other Half's "Mr. Pharmacist", it ends with a cluster of mangled guitar strings. "Rumbling Joker" sounds like Syd Barrett transported to Dayton, Ohio, this is what I call "Creep & Roll", it features what sounds like a seasick police siren in the background. "Showbiz Opera Walrus" is a short, jokey piece that brings a touch of humor to this fairly serious set of music. It sounds like Freddie & The Dreamers locked in a closet with the Red Crayola.
"Pick Seeds From My Skull" is a dead ringer for "Easter Everywhere" 13th Floor Elevators, bringing to mind one of that album's fried acoustic numbers. "Second Step, Next Language" ends the album brilliantly, this is full bore, drone psychedelia. The guitar playing reminds me of the great Joe Docko, and I'll be damned if the closing guitar phrase isn't lifted off Steppenwolf's "Monster." That's it my friends, 35 minutes of pure genius, genius which needs no re-mix.
You know I take a lot of heat from people I know when I say Guided By Voices were the greatest rock & roll band of all time, but I stand by it. I say fuck the The Beatles, fuck Jimi Hendrix, fuck the 60's. The 60's were a total ripoff, just look at all of those sorry asses now. Do I have to hear one more Who song on a fucking Land Rover commercial? Do I have to see David Crosby attacking Richard Nixon while carrying guns and doing freebase, even the fucking Elevators are on a TV ad now. What's next The Swamp Rats hyping Microsoft?
All I know is Bob Pollard is still alive and well and cranking out more classics as I write this. Thank God for that!!! IN BOB WE TRUST!!!!!!!


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