Guided By Voices - Tonics and Twisted Chasers (Say It With Angel Dust)
or better or worse, we here at Stylus, in all of our autocratic consumer-crit greed, are slaves to timeliness. A record over six months old is often discarded, deemed too old for publication, a relic in the internet age. That's why each week at Stylus, one writer takes a look at an album with the benefit of time. Whether it has been unjustly ignored, unfairly lauded, or misunderstood in some fundamental way, we aim with On Second Thought to provide a fresh look at albums that need it.
Released to the Guided By Voices fanclub in January of 1997, five months before the release of Mag Earwig!, Tonics and Twisted Chasers is solely the collaboration between Tobin Sprout and Robert Pollard. At times, as rugged as Vampire On Titus, Tonics and Twisted Chasers is an interesting and enjoyable listen. Considered to be the "diamond in the rough" by GBV fans, Tonics and Twisted Chasers is the last time Sprout and Pollard would officially work together until 2001's Tower In The Fountain Of Sparks. Tonics and Twisted Chasers is so good that it was released to the public the same year it was put out as a fanclub-only release. I don't think I have been as moved by their work since Bee Thousand. "Key Losers" gives me goosebumps, " "Dayton, Ohio - 19 Something and 5" captures Dayton the way Springsteen would capture Asbury Park on The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle. "Ha Ha Man" is presented in a ragged form, which has more spit in it than it's competitor on Suitcase.
The filler songs are odd, rugged, and charming... "My Thoughts Are A Gas" is not very good (but much to my surprise a retooling of that song appeared on the What's Up Matador compilation, and it stole the show for me). Tonics and Twisted Chasers is the perfect closing note for the incredible run of albums that started with Vampire On Titus, after this album, Guided By Voices would change lineups and start phase two of what hopes to be a long history. A few years ago I found Tonics and Twisted Chasers at a CD WAREHOUSE for $7 and its homemade artwork made me curious. Like me, whoever stumbles accross Tonics and Twisted Chasers will be very very surprised, and pleased. A ruby in the dust, here's to 158 years of beautiful sex!
By: Sean Wright
Published on: 2003-09-01