Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Edison's Demos (2004)

Edison's Demos
(2004, Not on label)

Let's get real Pollard process here. For Edison's Demos, Uncle Bob recorded the entire set of songs in one day, and then fucking released it on LP.  However, there was a rhyme to the reason for recording. Edison's Demos are the skeletal tracks to what would become most of Guided By Voices 2003 LP Earthquake Glue.  Apparently happy with the results, (or apparently just typical of his release schedule), Pollard issued the demos a year later in a limited run of 1,000 LPs.

Does the public need to hear this?  If you're not a superfan, then no. HOWEVER, I will argue that some of these intimate demos fair better than the over produced end product that is Earthquake Glue.  I am glad it's out, and if you're game enough, play them back to back to draw your own conclusions. If you really are drawing, say on a sketch pad, that conclusion might look something like a man sitting in his kitchen with a guitar, possibly wearing a wizard hat. On many of these tracks, the Pollard pop magic, as well as the cryptically surreal and beautiful lyrics shine brighter here. In addition, the production, for demo quality, is excellent. The LP sold out quickly and is now an artifact to the select masses. Below are reviews of the original demo tracks found on Earthquake Glue.

Mix Up The Satellite [Demo]- Brittle electric guitar, some vocals, and some second guitar orchestral stuff added. I prefer this to the Earthquake Glue version.  Much more personal, and just prettier overall.  Not bogged down by the annoying synths that so permeate the LP version.  

I'll Replace You With Machines [Demo]- Another tune, that I prefer over the LP version.  Gone here are the distracting mechanical, crunching robot noises that pound away on the finished version, as the skeletal crux of this great song comes through. 

Beat Your Wings [Demo]- 3 Excellently executed electric guitar demo of what I find to be a mucked up, less than average, and ultimately overly long song on Earthquake Glue. This demo proves "Beat Your Wings" was always a long listen. However, the demo presents the song as a more epic affair than its end results may have accomplished on the GBV LP.  

Useless Intentions [Demo]- 4 One of the best songs off Earthquake Glue, this demo contains all the great hooks found in the full band version. Still prefer the full band version over this. In any case, what a wonderfully written tune. 

Dirty Water [Demo]- 2  One of the worst tracks on the GBV LP, mainly due to Todd Tobias' mad-scientist production sound-effects overdrive. It's interesting to hear this as a guitar only demo. But really, "Dirty Water" remains a fairly boring, filler track material, rewarding only for Pollard's strong vocal performance. 

She Goes Off At Night [Demo]- 3  Nice doubled vocals on this. Seriously, killer vocal performance on this. Retains its proggy The Who feel. 

She Goes Off At Night [Vocals Only Mix]- 1 Okay, I know I said I liked the vocals, but why do we have to hear a vocals only mix?  Who knows Filling track space I guess? This isn't some Beach Boys boxset here, Pollard!!!  But hey, it's non-too offensive, I guess. 

Dead Cloud [Demo]- 1  One of the most uncomfortably formed GBV tracks to date. Far too proggy for anyone's good. Still don't like this song, but the layered vocal build up in the chorus are a bright spot. 

My Son, My Secretary, My Country [Demo]- 1 One of the tunes off Earthquake Glue that's additionally bogged down by Todd Tobias' production to an extent.  However, this tune is still essentially one minute filler that feels unstable and just as unsatisfying.

A Trophy Mule In Particular [Demo]- 3  Hearing this as a demo is slightly more effective than the end result of the full band. This sounds like a darkened, downer, personal track that didn't translate well into the epic shrug that appeared on Earthquake Glue.

Main Street Wizards [Demo]- 4  One of the brightest spots on the Earthquake Glue LP. Still retains the beautiful melody, but the laid back yet sonically grand band version is preferable of the two. Hell of a short, melodic hook. 

Main Street Wizards [Homemade Click-Track Mix Demo]- 3  Slightly rougher version in terms of guitar sound. Still an awesome song, but deduct one point because, really, why do we need this version too? 

Blasted But It's Easy- EXCLUSIVE TRACK!  Unlike everything else on this LP, this one DID NOT appear on Earthquake Glue as a rerecorded version.  Also, it wouldn't be a limited Pollard release without a totally exclusive track, now would it?  Follows a similar formula of the other songs on the album.  Fairly proggy pop, with some stop-starts, jangle minor chord noodling. Worth a listen for fans of the early '00s GBV.

Apology In Advance [Demo]- 1  Still feels awkward as all hell.  Not the worst, but just jumbled enough chord and harmony wise to be feel too awkward.  Not a winner in demo OR full band form.  

Secret Star [Demo]- Like the final version, this song is just flat out too long. Nearly five minutes! This demo is just plain boring to get through. Hard to see how this one made it out of the gates without a serious trim down. 


  1. Blasted But It's Easy is essentially the same song as Night Of The Golden Underground which appears on his solo record Fiction Man. Thus not really a bonus track ( but a neat variation ;)

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  3. Blasted But It's Easy is the same recording as "Broken Brothers", the B-side to "My Kind of Soldier", just with less instrumentation.

  4. Wow, you're completely right. I actually have that single, maybe listened to that B side once or twice and never linked them later.

    1. Yeah, I had just discovered that b-side, and knew I had heard it before!