Monday, July 22, 2013

Songs On My MP3 Player: (I'll Name You) The Flame That Cries by Guided by Voices

The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll is back in business. It has been five months since I last posted and I am glad to be back blogging about rock and roll. It was sometime last week when I decided to share with the Lost Soul faithful every song that is stored on my MP3 player which is a Philips GoGear Vibe 4G model.  All posts will be in alphabetical order.

'(I'll Name You) The Flame That Cries' by Guided by Voices (GBV) is the first song listed on my MP3 player because of the parentheses. '(I'll Name You) The Flame That Cries' is featured on the 'I Am A Tree' single that was released in 1997 by Matador Records.

GBV is a band that was formed in Dayton, Ohio during the early 1980's, and they became a favorite of music critics and alternative rock bands during the early 1990's following the release of the albums Propeller and Bee Thousand. The band has a sound that is influenced by various genres including The British Invasion, punk rock, post-punk, psychedelic rock, and progressive rock. Their lead singer is a former fourth grade teacher named Robert Pollard and he is quite possibly one of the most prolific songwriters of the past thirty years. Many of the GBV's releases are considered lo-fi due to the use of inexpensive recording devices to record their releases, but they would venture into the studio to produce some polished rock albums. The history of GBV includes numerous personnel changes and their career came to end in 2004 when Pollard decided to retire the band. GBV's retirement ended in 2010 when pollard got the band back together to tour and to release new music.

I became a fan of GBV in 1994 and saw my first show in Dayton, Ohio a year later. This was the time of the lo-fi era GBV and the lineup was Bob Pollard on vocals, Jim Greer on bass, Tobin Sprout on guitar and vocals, Mitch Mitchell on guitar, and Kevin Fennell on drums. Greg Demos would replace Greer on bass and this lineup from 1992 to 1996 was known as the "classic lineup".

What I've always liked about this band, especially the "classic lineup", was that on stage they looked like a bunch of regular guys playing solid rock and roll. The sets were long, the energy was high, and the band always played a great show. The "classic lineup" had a run featuring some incredibly amazing albums including Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, and Under The Bushes, Under The Stars.

Everything seemed to be going well from my point of view as a fan during the mid to late 90's, but Pollard made a decision that shocked me in 1997 when he announced some major personnel changes. Pollard had the entire band replaced by members of Cobra Verde, a Cleveland rock band. I was on a GBV mailing list for fans and from what I was told on the list was that Pollard wanted a more savvy group of musicians to join him for a big studio album project. Doug Gillard was lead guitar player, John Petkovic was the rhythm guitar player, Don Depew was on bass, and Dave Swanson was on drums. The sound went from lo-fi to studio rock and the end result was a 1997 concept album titled Mag Earwhig!

Mag Earwhig! is a good album overall, but it was a clear statement from Pollard that the lo-fi era was over. The Cobra Verde lineup did not disappoint fans at shows, but for some reason, Pollard decided to keep Gillard and replace the remaining band members with new musicians less than one year after disbanding the "classic lineup".

'(I'll Name You) The Flame That Cries' is the first song in this MP3 series and it opens with a lovely acoustic sound that builds up to a great progressive rock explosion. It seems to me that it is a crime that this song was placed on the 'I Am A Tree' single instead of Mag Earwhig! because '(I'll Name You) The Flame That Cries' is quite possibly one of GBV's strongest songs from this Cobra Verde era. I've always been of the opinion that Pollard really wanted a hit at this point in his career and Mag Earwhig! could have been the album to take him to radio hitsville. For some reason, it did not happen. '(I'll Name You) The Flame That cries' has everything that a band needs for a radio hit, so it has been a myestery to me why this didn't make the album.

Progressive rock or prog rock is not something I want to listen to on a daily basis, but '(I'll Name You) The Flame That Cries' is an exception that deserves to be on my MP3 player because it is that kind of rock song that will get your head bobbing and your fist pumping in the air. For those of you that have not converted to the rock awesomeness of GBV then give this song a listen because it is definitely a gateway song one can use to get new converts to join the Church of GBV. The club is open.

TonyDoug Wright is the Lost Soul of Rock and Roll. Follow him on Twitter @TonyDougWright or join The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll page on Facebook.


  1. "...great progressive rock explosion." OMFGROTFLOL!

  2. I would have rather had (I'll Name You) The Flame That Cries on Mag Earwhig twice than I am a Tree. I love that album, except for Tree and Bulldog Skin. I always skip those two songs, they seem so out of place on an otherwise excellent record.

  3. Daniel, is that you?