Guided by Voices – “Dodging Invisible Rays”
Tigerbomb EP, 1995
Not only is this one of GBV’s best b-sides, it’s one of their best songs. It’s Tobin Sprout’s best contribution to the band’s discography, which is saying something considering his songs are so often better than Bob Pollard’s. Or maybe it just stands out in contrast to the three mega-weird Pollard tracks it precedes on this brisk EP (which also includes the single versions of “Game of Pricks” and “My Valuable Hunting Knife,” and back to back those songs are damn near unstoppable). “Dodging Invisible Rays” has all the shambling power of Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes but is obviously a brilliant standalone track that couldn’t be shoehorned into either of those collage-like records. One of my favorite things about GBV’s massive output is that, if you dig enough, you will ultimately uncover these perfect little gems. There’s something special about tracks like “Dodging Invisible Rays” or “Paper Girl” or “The Key Losers” or “Choking Tara (Creamy Version).” They’re underserviced and when you listen to them, you get the feeling that you’re the only person in the world listening to this particular track at this particular moment. This one, though, this one is my favorite. “Dodging Invisible Rays” also appears on a disc of demos, b-sides, and live cuts that came with a deluxe edition of their Best Of Human Amusements at Hourly Rates (also included on the disc dubbed Demons and Painkillers (I think this was also included with the Hardcore UFOs boxset). If you can find this version, it’s your perfect gateway to the greatest band of all time (after you’ve absorbed Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes, of course).