Prolific really doesn’t accurately describe the output of Pollard and his bandmates — just this year alone GBV issued two albums (the last one was fabulous!), with a third to come, while Pollard has a second new solo album on the way. Not surprisingly, many find it daunting keeping up with all these releases, especially Pollard’s solo stuff.
Beginning in the mid ’90s, and escalating a bit in the mid ’00s when GBV were on hiatus, Pollard has put out 20-30 albums (depending on how you count ’em up) separate from the band. And then there is the Fading Captain Series, including multiple box sets (“Suitcase” series) of demos an outtakes and such.
Daunting doesn’t really accurately describe the level of fear even the most seasoned and passionate of musician feels when approaching Pollard’s work. Said a guitarist/producer friend to me one time when discussing this: “I mean, its like, really? Its a little ridiculous already. I can’t keep up with it!”
And frankly… neither can I.
Imposing really is the word that best describes Pollard’s output. But that’s not a bad thing — bless his heart and soul and fanbase for letting him put out what he wants when he wants. Bit by bit, I have been trying my best to keep pace, picking up about 18-20 of these solo and side project releases new or used when I can find them. They are, mostly as expected, a mixed bag of rock and folk infused pop, usually a bit longer and sometimes heavier (in a classic rock sense) than GBV material. But what a groovy mixed bag they are, and in those bags are occasional bona fide gems that somehow didn’t make it onto GBV albums or eventually did creep into the GBV oeuvre.
I gotta say, the most recent Pollard solo album, Mouseman Cloud, was a bit of a letdown, especially when compared to the majesty of Moses on A Snail (reviewed here) and some of the other albums he’s put out in recent years. I like to think this is not a sign of him burning out, but more a reality that the best songs ended up on the GBV albums.
Accordingly, I have decided to create a playlist of sorts of the “best” tracks from the batch of solo Pollard albums I own. These are the tracks I might put on a mixtape for a friend who I am trying to introduce to Pollard’s work, or to create a mix to play in the car (actually, that is what I am doing with it now).
Here’s the list so far — and make no mistake: it will evolve. Note that I’ve included links to versions I found online to make it easy for you to click on and listen to the tracks. Of course, if you like the tracks, please — support the independent artist — head over to iTunes or Amazon to buy the tracks from Mr. Pollard.
Guided By Smotroff: A Pollard Primer
- “Slow Hamilton” — from Coast To Coast Carpet of Love
- “Dancing Girls and Dancing Men” — from From A Compound Eye
- “Tight Globes “– from Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department (with Doug Gillard)
- “Tabby & Lucy” — from Let it Beard by Boston Spaceships (Pollard side project)
- “The Butler Stands For All of Us” — from The Crawling Distance
- “Its A Pleasure Being You” — from Moses on A Snail
- “No Island” — from The Crawling Distance
- “Paradise is Not So Bad” — from Waving At the Astronauts by Lifeguards (Pollard side project)
- “Pop Zeus” — from Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department (with Doug Gillard)
- “The Blondes” — From Robert Pollard Is Off To Business
- “Doing The Math” — from Waving At The Astronauts (album made with The Lifeguards — aka Doug GiIlard)
- “The Weekly Crow” — from Moses On A Snail
- “What Am I?” — from Waving at the Astronauts (album made with The Lifeguards — aka Doug GiIlard)
- “People Are Leaving” — from Waved Out (note: like two different songs in one!)
- “It’s Easy” — from The Crawling Distance
- “In A Circle” — from Lord of The Birdcage
- “Miles Under The Skin” — from Coast To Coast Carpet of Love
- “Make Use” — from Waved Out
- “Sexless Auto” — from Waving At The Astronauts (album made with The Lifeguards — aka Doug GiIlard)”
- Too Much Fun (Is Too Much Fun)” — from The Crawling Distance