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Guided by Voices

Suitcase 2: American Superdream Wow (Recordhead Records)

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There's a time-honored complaint about multi-disc releases in which the reviewer indulges the perennial rock critic's fantasy of being a tyrannical producer and claims that any given box set could've been shrunk to one great twelve-song album. But at one hundred tracks, this four-disc odds-'n'-ends collection from the defunct Guided by Voices is just too damned sprawling to accurately condense into one LP. It's a music library unto itself, one that invites customizing. Toss in "A Proud and Booming Industry," a piece of lilting perfection that might be one of maestro Robert Pollard's top-ten tunes, with the supple jangle of a dozen tracks like "Cox Municipal Airport Song," and you've got a great indie-pop album. Lash the Oblivians-like garage of, say, "Shake It Out" to soulful, '50s-ish gems such as "Do Be," and you've got retro heaven. Likewise, there's a better psych album in here than you're likely to find as a dusty reissue; there's beer-chugging, '70s-rock grandeur; there's scuzzy punk; and there's plenty of bracing, experimental noise. Unfortunately for those of us who would take the producer fantasy to its conclusion, however, there's also a consistent current of tape hiss, registering at varying levels from track to track. Then again, you can't have everything for 40 lousy bucks, can you?