Nineteen ninety-nine was a banner year for Guided By Voices fans.
(Special self-promotion note, that was the year we officially launched
guidedbyrobertpollard as a dot com)
1999 was the year that Guided By Voices released “Do The Collapse”
which rebooted the band with a new line-up,
before that, it seemed that the band was no more.
“Do The Collapse” was the bands big production, major label debut.
For some old fans, who were introduced to the band with their earlier
“lo-fi” albums, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
The “Fading Captain Series”, which debuted that same year,
was an outlet for Robert Pollard’s side projects and included smaller productions,
some which featured a more “lo-fi” sound that the earlier fans had come to love.
It was the perfect antidote to “Do The Collapse’s” big studio production.
Today we Guided By Voices fans are accustom to multiple album releases per year,
but until 1999 that was never the case.
Before that, 1996 was the year with the most output of material,
with a GbV studio album “Under The Bushes Under the Stars”,
a few eps and solo albums by both Bob and Tobin Sprout.
Besides “Do the Collapse” there were four releases under
the “Fading Captain Series” banner released in 1999, which included:
Bob’s 3rd solo album, “Kid Marine”, an album teaming Bob with Doug Gillard,
“Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department”, Nightwalker’s
“Professional Music By Nightwalker In Shop We Build Electric Chairs 1984-93”
and “Ask Them” by Lexo and the Leapers.
“Ask Them” was number two in the Fading Captain series.
It was the first release that Pollard released using a name other than
his own or Guided By Voices’, other than a couple earlier singles
he released under the names “Nightwalker” and “Freedom Cruise”
a few years earlier.
Recorded just a month before its release, “Ask Them” was recorded
by Bob backed by the Tasties from Dayton Ohio.
“Ask Them” is a six song ep.
To my knowledge, Lexo and the Leapers never played a live show,
but Guided By Voices during their “Do The Collapse” tour, included
three of “Ask Them’s” tracks, “Time Machines”, “Alone, Stinking and Unafraid”
and “Circling Motorhead Mountain”, to the tour’s set list.
The songs were among the highlight’s of that tour.
“Fair Touching” was rerecorded as the opening track for Guided By Voices
following album, 2001’s “Isolation Drills” and was performed regularly
on the tour for that album.
The “Ask Them” ep, as I said was lo-fi compared to GBV’s current albums.
The band performances were quite good,
but the sound quality, especially of the guitars, reminds me of putting metal
through a grinding wheel with sparks flying all over the place.
I am not saying that as an insult or a complaint.
because I think it’s a great ep.
But I do have to add this,
of all of Bob’s side projects, this is one I’d like to see remixed.
It could use more mid-range and bottom,
plus widening the stereo scope would greatly improve the sound quality.
Because the songs are great and so are the performances.
I highly recommend this ep to all GBV fans
and those who haven’t heard it are truly missing out.
My one regret is not buying the 12” clear gold vinyl version of the record,
which is now going for about $250 to $350,
but you can still get the cd version for a decent price