I bought the new issue of The Big Takeover over the weekend. (REM's on the cover… am I the only one that thinks Peter Buck kind of looks like Bea Arthur these days?) I'm always anxious to tear into it — it's always good and one of the few music magazines these days that takes longer than an afternoon to read — but I was specifically looking forward to this one to read the second half of editor Jack Rabid's interview with New Pornographers' AC Newman. The first half, in the last issue (which also featured AC on the cover), was one of the best interviews with a musician that I'd read in I don't know how long.
To be honest the second half is not quite as good as the first — Carl takes a lot of BT reader questions — but he did talk about his band Zumpano who were signed to Sub Pop in the early '90s, and were really one of the first pop bands, along with Velocity girl, to be signed to the Seattle label that was then known as the home of grunge. Jack asks if there is any chance, what with New Pornographers' success, that we might see their two albums reissued…
AC: No, I still don't really want to do it. A friend at Sub Pop was talking about how they wanted to repackage both records as a two-for-one. But they're just a part of my past. I feel like it was a learning process.
JR: You don't wan't people to hear them???
AC: I just want them to go away.
JR: Why?! They're excellent!
AC: They're all right. I still feel kind of embarrassed by them. I feel like New Pornographers is the music I've always wanted to make.
JR: I can't imagine someone buying Zumpano records and not buying New Pornographers. Not buying it?!
AC: Maybe… I don't have any problems with those records. But some things from your past, you just want them to exist in their own time. It would be nice if they become really sought-after. If all the copies disappear, and then people start paying $100 for them on eBay… like Game Theory CDs from the '80s. Those have become sought-after because they're all long gone.
JR: Maybe I should sell mine!
AC: Apparently Lolita Nation is the one that everybody wants..
JR: I've got that.
AC: Get rid of it before the market falls out!
I had no idea Game Theory CDs were such hot property, though in a weird bit of happenstance I've been listening to Lolita Nation a lot lately — which I won't be selling to anyone. I bought Lolita Nation my freshman year of college after hearing a couple Game Theory songs on that Enigma Variations 2 compilation I mentioned in my Wire post last week. (You all remember that, right?) And the college radio station was playing it and they sounded similar to a lot of other, paisley-wearing bands I liked at the time — Let's Active, The Three O'Clock, and R.E.M.
Like a lot of double albums, Lolita Nation is a sprawling mess. Songs crashed into one another, with some half-baked 20 second snippets thrown in, along with a really weird sound collage near the end of the record. But in between all that unbridled creativity, there were all these amazing songs and I thought it was the most awesome thing I ever heard. Obsession set in quick. This was maybe the first
record I'd heard at that point that attempted to bring a Beatles
aesthetic to the "college rock" sound.
And again, the songs. Lolita Nation has at least ten great ones. Mitch Easter produced and, apart from some thin-sounding keyboards, it doesn't really sound all that dated. Probably because they resisted the reverby/gated drum sound that was so prevalent at the time. It really holds up. Most of Game Theory's album's are worth hearing, but Lolita Nation is genuinely essential.
Frontman Scott Miller says there's not enough demand for reissues, but seeing how '80s indie classics from Let's Active, The Three O'Clock ,and Dumptruck (who were probably equal on the obscurity level) can get them, surely so can Game Theory. The real reason is probably because Miller doesn't own the rights to the masters. Until someone rectifies this situation, here are a few of Lolita Nation's choicest cuts:
MP3: Game Theory_- Not Because You Can
MP3: Game Theory- We Love You Carol And Alison
MP3: Game Theory – The Real Sheila
MP3: Game Theory_- Slip
Scott Miller's post-GT band, The Loud Family, are worth checking out too, as is the Loud Family website. He's a true musicologist, and has lists of his Top 20 albums for every year from 1965 – 1999, which makes a great shopping list for those who want to fill out their music collections.
Meanwhile, for those of you who started reading this thinking it was going to feature some Zumpano songs…
MP3: Zumpano – The Party Rages On
MP3: Zumpano – Behind the Beehive