Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Case File #19: "Game of Pricks"

Guided By Voices
"Game of Pricks"
The Best of Guided By Voices: Human Amusements at Hourly Rates

The need to know: One of indie rocks longest standing holdouts, Guided By Voices are practically an institution. No, they are one. Led by Robert Pollard, the band released over 17 albums, not counting live releases, EPs and compilations (which at least double that number), during a 20 year career that earned the band a sold fan base without ever requiring them to sign a major label contract. Known for Pollard's quirky, stream-of-consciousness lyrics and often lo-fi recordings, especially in their early days, GBV walked the line of accessibility without ever crossing over it. And oh how we love them for it. 

Why it's worthy: A short, punchy pop song in a catalog of short, punchy pop songs, "Game of Pricks" still somehow feels like something special. Originally recorded for 1995's Alien Lanes, this version is clearly crisper (the original exemplifies lo-fi) but the slick production fits the song like a glove. It's a testament to the song, and Pollard's songcraft, that it works so well both ways.

Quotable lyric: "I'll never ask for the truth, but you owe that to me"

Where you've heard it: An extreme Guided By Voices fan, Jim Adkins and his band, Jimmy Eat World, covered "Game of Pricks" for the BBC while promoting 2001's Bleed American. The recording ended up on the Japanese-only Good To Go EP.

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