Paul McCartney met actor Dustin Hoffman in the early 70’s.
After having dinner, McCartney was playing around on guitar.
Hoffman didn’t believe Paul could write a song about anything,
so Hoffman pulled out a magazine which had a story about the death of
Pablo Picasso and his famous last words,
"Drink to me, drink to my health. You know I can't drink anymore.”
McCartney created a demo of the song and lyrics on the spot,
prompting Hoffman to exclaim to his wife: "…look, he's doing it… he's doing it!"
This seems to be the basic concept behind Robert Pollard’s Cash Rivers recordings;
either friends (or GBV band members) give Bob a title or phrase and he proceeds
to write a country song, perhaps on the spot.
Cash Rivers first ep “She Laughed I Left” included 17 songs with only
two of them over 30 seconds in length,
with Bob accompanied by an acoustic guitar.
For the album “Blue Balls Lincoln” Cash (Bob) is joined by The Sinners,
which my guess is the current lineup of Guided By Voices.
The concept is basically the same except the songs get the full band
treatment with most of the songs almost hitting the minute and a half mark,
with some even longer.
Included in the recent vinyl re-issue of Bob’s great second solo album,
“Waved Out”, was a letter from Bob written on a typewriter, (remember those?)
complete with typing errors,
where Bob announces new releases for the next year and a half or so.
“First of all to round out 2018, the sprawling 69 track Cash Rivers and the Sinners
double album, “Do Not Try To Adjust Your Set, I Am The Vertical and The Horizontal.”
It’s a semi-tasteless very humorous retro 60’s/70’s radio/TV concept.”
One would think, the whole joke has gone its course.
Once again, You have to trust in Bob.
“Do Not Try To Adjust Your Set,
I Am The Horizontal and the Vertical” is Brilliant.
Bob goes on to say:
“If you go into it with an open mind, you might find it mildly entertaining
with a few pretty good songs.
Them Sinners can play.”
The album is more than just “Mildly Entertaining” and has more than just a
“few pretty good songs” and yes those Sinners can sure play.
Sure the concept is the same as is the lengths of the songs
and most of the songs get the full band treatment.
But the Big difference is this album plays like a radio show,
much like the Who’s 1967 classic “The Who Sell Out”.
But instead of commercials for “Boston Baked Beans,” “Charles Atlas”
and Acne Cream, the sponsors are “No Prob Limo,” “Country Essence,”
“Taco Tuesday” and something called “Bubble Country.”
But the thing that really makes this album great is the diversity of the music.
Which showcases just how talented the current line-up is.
The band plays a wide range of Country Music,
like Country Swing, “Bobby Bare” and “Ready For a Sit Down.”
Country/Western “She's Too Big to Be My Baby” and “Buffalo Eleanor.”
Country Rock “Cheap Truck” and “2 O'Clock in the Morning and I'm Still Rockin’.”
and authentic County with, “Take Her Home, Tuck Her In and Go Back Out,”
“Honky Tony BeBop Lover,” “9 Kids by 8 Different Women,” “O Brother You're Out There,”
“The Hair” and one of my favorites that sounds like 60’s country, “He Lives Upstairs.”
Among the surprises is a country version of the Rolling Stones classic,
“It's Only Rock and Roll (but I like it)” and one of the first songs Bob ever wrote,
which Bob and brother Jimmy referred to on the “Watch Me Jumpstart” documentary,
“Corn Country,” finally makes its debut.
But unlike previous Cash Rivers releases, the band plays a wide range of styles.
like Rock, “Cats Crevens” which is sort like Rainbow’s “Man on the Silver Mountain”
and Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever.”
And “Cellphone Baby” is that Moon Unit Zappa being sampled from “Valley Girl?”
Punk with, “There's No Such Thing as Global Warming” and “Shit All Over the Place.”
Post Punk, “Robot Arms,” “What Goes Up,” “Crazy Evil Dancer” and “You Know You Said Woah.”
Heavy Metal, “Go Get 'em David,” “Future of Rock” and “We Party Hard.”
New Wave, “My Heart's Still Beating,” “Voodoo Lady” and “Sex Change Operation”
and Glam with, “Children of the Popcorn” and “I Wouldn’t” which reminds me of
“Wig Wam Bam” by the Sweet.
The real surprises come with the most unlikely styles,
Pop, “Soda Pop” and “For Every Action,” Doo-Wop, “John Shut Up,”
Surf Music, “My Jagwire” and “Honolulu Titties.”
Even more surprising, Disco, “She Discoed Out the Door,”
Hip Hop, “Blindsiding a Leprechaun,”
Reggae, “T V's Got a Lot of Things on His Mind” and
“You Know We Get Happy When the Sun Goes Down.”
There is even Children’s Music with “Don't Mock a Chihuahua” and
Barber Shop, “Barber Shop Quintet Contest Champions of Minneapolis.”
some of the songs could even pass for Guided By Voices songs.
Booby Bare, Father of GBV guitarist Booby Bare Jr, makes two appearances,
once during the song named after him, he appears in the middle referencing
his 1963 hit single "500 Miles Away from Home" while the band plays a portion
of the song.
And second on a promo for “No Prob Limo” where he again mentions his hit song.
There is lots of spoken word, children’s voices, sound effects and even saxophone.
Musically this album is all over the place, which is part of its charm.
If you were to take “The Who Sells Out,” The Mothers of Inventions “We’re Only In It For The Money,”
GBV’s “Alien Lanes,” all different styles of music and lots of laughs,
you might end up with this.
Last Saturday after I received this album in the mail,
I checked Rockathon to see if it sold out, and it did.
But reading on from Bob’s letter of future releases,
those of you who missed ordering this amazing record will have a second chance.
“It’s Cash’s last record and will be commemorated in 2019 with the “10 Month Anniversary”
deluxe double CD package of Cash’s entire oeuvre, including the “She Laughed, I Left” 7”,
“Blue Balls Lincoln” LP and lots of bonus Vertical/Horizontal outtakes.
Then it’s R.I.P. Cash and the Sinners.”
I’m sure as hell gonna order it,
and I’d highly recommend you do the same.
This shouldn’t be missed by any fan of Bob and Guided By Voices.
A Freakin’ Plus
Very Fun and Entertaining!