Power or Pub Rock… screw the labels: Spoon – Hot Thoughts

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Very few bands garner my ever elusive “buy unheard” designation. That place where you drop cash on release day or do that advance order thing. With the popularity of music streaming sites and advance listens on popular music mag web pages, there isn’t much need for the mystery purchase. Regardless, Spoon remains one of the ‘only’ rock bands that actually matter. Whether it be their debut Girls Can Tell, the best-selling Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, my personal favorite Gimme Fiction, or even the half-hearted They Want My Soul, Spoon has remained not only one of the most consistently great bands of this new(ish) century, but also one of the most intriguing.

They don’t often give away the subjects of their songs, usually choosing to keep their cards close to the chest, but when they do… well damn! “Let them build a wall around us, I don’t care I’m going to tear it down…” are lyrics found on “Tear it Down” and coming from a bunch of Texans, it might as well be a declaration of war against ‘Forty-Five.’ Of course, the lyrics are veiled enough that one might see it another way… BUT COME ON – it was written during the f@#king Presidential Primaries.

The thing is, Britt Daniels could write just about anything and it would still allow you enough room to project just about anything you damn well please onto the lyrical theme. “Do I have to talk you into it?” is just open enough to be up for any interpretation. “For your love, my first caress/ your friends have came and went/ Coconut milk/ Coconut water/ You still like to tell me they’re the same/ and whom I to say.” “First Caress” could be a direct shot at a former lover, or a bunch of crap written in a journal that sounded good together… in all honesty it doesn’t matter, the end destination is a great ride.

Which is kinda (kinda isn’t a word, I know… but stay with me here) the point. Great rock ‘n’ roll can be open to interpretation; meaning everything to the writer and something completely different and equally important to the listener.  Yet, somehow these two places have common ground, and when I find Spoon to be at their greatest is when these diverging points mix seamlessly. The deeper meaning is secondary to the emotional reaction you have to it. Fuck the definitions and labels… how does it make you feel?

Now, if you are looking to pick this up on vinyl, then you have boat loads of choices… including a lucky lottery version. You can pre-order clear, purple and red. You can special order a pink copy from Urban Outfitters (1000 available). There is the regular black at your local record store….OR…

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If you did a pre-order from their label Matador, you may be one of the lucky !!!TWO!!!! to have received golden ticket green vinyl edition. One is being sold in the UK and the other in North America.

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I’d love to tell ya I’ve heard them all, but that just isn’t so. The pink Urban Outfitters is spinning on the turntable sounding like a mix between Duran Duran and a Texan version of Elton John (seriously… “I Ain’t The One” is just about as heartbreaking as “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”). Which is to say, it sounds fantastic and I’m assuming the others do too… but you know… you’ll have to buy it to find out.

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The Best Album of 1993 or Liz Phair – Exile In Guyville

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Some records are great sounding and personal. Some records are great sounding and important. Then there was Exile In Guyville which was all that and so much more. 1993 was an awesome year for music seeing releases by Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Breeders, U2, Belly, Porno For Pyros, Sloan, The Cranberries, Blur, Counting Crows, PJ Harvey and so many more. All those records and yet Spin and the influential Village Voice both picked Guyville as the number one record of the year.

It wasn’t just that Phair was writing about sex as bluntly or as graphically as any ‘guy’ had before her. It wasn’t just that a so-called feminist view hadn’t been placed in music to the extent that she now had. It was that Exile In Guyville had seventeen kick-ass songs that talked about the female experience without having to make proclamations. This wasn’t Helen Reddy singing “I Am Woman” or Courtney Love warning you that “someday you will ache like I ache.” Instead Phair’s vocals are so matter of fact you feel that anger and sarcasm would be out of place. These are the stories of women in love, lust, distress and having sex told in a style where shock seems both out of place yet warranted.

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Spin recently ranked the Top 300 albums since 1985 and Exile In Guyville ranked #7. The only albums to rank Higher were:

Radiohead – OK Computer

The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead

Daft Punk – Discovery

Prince – Sign O’ The Times

Wu Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang

Nirvana – Nevermind

Quite the company eh!

So when I talk about wanting to have not only albums I love, but also essential albums in my vinyl collection – Guyville fits both bills.

Strangely, Exile In Guyville has only two vinyl options. The original 1993 Matador release came with two basic black vinyl discs and an insert detailing the album info. You can find used copies on the internet for about $50.00.

In 2008, ATO Records released a 15th anniversary edition that was re-mastered and placed on two 180 gram vinyl pieces. With them also came a bonus 7” of unreleased B-sides and a copy of the re-mastered CD. Oddly, the reseller markets are asking over $60.00 for the 2008 reissue. It is still available at local record stores and online retailers for much less.

If you haven’t heard it – listen here. Then BUY IT!