too much typing—since 2003


disjointed but with purpose

Here is my latest utterly crazed musical theory: Yes's Tales from Topographic Oceans is really a Guided by Voices album.

I'd ask the gentlemen with the extremely long-sleeved white coats and those festive nets to hold off just one minute. Here's how:
* Tales, from the track listing, looks as if it's four twenty-minute-long epics. What it really is, though, is a bunch of songs and song-fragments run together, sometimes with thematic continuity but often without, into convenient LP-side lengths. If the CD had been available when it was recorded, what you want to bet that it would have been one continuous 80-minute track? So the twenty-minute song length is more a matter of convenience than composition. What we really have is twenty to thirty songs and fragments - structurally, that is, the album is rather like Alien Lanes.

* Allowing for certain aesthetic proclivities of the seventies (lengthy solos, for instance), we could probably edit Tales down to about 45 minutes of material that wouldn't instantly offend the ears of the post-seventies (after punk) aesthetic.

* Yes, obviously, valued different kinds of instrumental skill than Guided by Voices. Still, there are related aspects: certainly, in later GBV, Doug Gillard's guitar-playing is every bit as varied and virtuosic (if not as flashy) as Steve Howe's. And listen to some of the arranging tricks Todd Tobias uses on the Pollard solo albums he's collaborated on: the latent progginess always present on GBV albums is about as close to the surface there as it ever gets.

* Both artists' lyrics are abstract and tend toward sound rather than sense. Anderson's image as macrobiotic sunshine hippie contrasts with Pollard's as beer-drinking gnomic cutup man - but still, lines like "Move over glory to sons of old fighters past" and "sing of the velvet sailors' course" could easily come from either lyricist's oeuvre (they're both from Tales, in fact).

So: strip out solos, disensuite song fragments, roughen up production and vocals, and perhaps alter a few of the more floripotent Yes lyrics, and Tales stands revealed as proto-Pollard product.

Quod erat demonstrandum.


Anonymous said...

You're trying to make me mad, aren't you?
-- 1x

2fs said...

"Mad" as in angry or "mad" as in Alan Keyes?