Monday, June 11, 2007

Guided By Voices - "Mice Feel Nice"

The Tigerbomb EP was an exciting event for fans of Guided By Voices. Containing re-recorded versions of two tracks from that year's Alien Lanes full-length, it was a teaser announcing a new era for the Voices: no more 4-track. Here was the world's greatest rock n' roll band captured in a real recording studio, their awesome live power at last reproduced with a full, professional sound.

And it delivered, too; the version of "Game of Pricks" leaves Alien's version in the dust. Granted, the 4-track sound was never without its charm, but the prospect of the band trying a new and ambitious project was enough to make the die-hards salivate.

Buried at the end of side one was this lo-fi throwaway featuring, to my mind, one of Pollard's finest vocal performances. I can only assume this is a first-take improvisation; Pollard warbles away in no particular direction, spouting whatever non sequiturs pop into his head at the moment. I think it's the meaninglessness of the lyrics that make this track such a perfect showcase for Pollard's vocal powers. Even when he's just horsing around, the amount of passion he can convey is simply astounding. Listen to the way he holds back when the music shifts to a minor key, then goes all out again as it hits the root chord. As the song fades out you can hear that he's still singing, with no sign of letting up. I like to think this "song" is a snippet from somewhere within a ten-or-so-minute session during which he rambled away until the others got tired.

Of course, little did we know at the time that this track contained a harbinger of what would eventually spell the end of the band's classic line-up. It's right there in the credits on the back of the sleeve: "Doug Gillard–Guitar on 'Mice Feel Nice'". But then, nothing this great lasts forever, does it?

I didn't get this right when it came out because a roommate had it, but a couple years later I picked it up while living on my own and filling out the GBV section of the library. At one point after a few few moves it, along with a couple other GBV 7"s, turned up missing. I've never figured out where they could have gone. So I found a copy on-line to replace it. Of course, this and all the other 7"s have since been compiled on the Hardcore UFOs box. (Scroll down a bit through the "buy" link below.)

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: Guided By Voices - "Mice Feel Nice (In My Room)"

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