Guided by Voices

Briefcase (Suitcase Abridged: Drinks and Deliveries)

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In 1995, Dayton, OH's lo-fi indie rock monoliths Guided by Voices released a five-disc box set making its extremely hard-to-find first four (five in the vinyl set) releases readily available along with a disc of rarities. With that release proving rather successful, five years later came the release of another box set called Suitcase: Failed Experiments and Trashed Aircraft. Billed as a collection of previously unreleased and unavailable recordings spanning the group's 15-year career until this point (frontman Robert Pollard being the only constant in the mix), Suitcase's overextended, hit-or-miss quality makes it clear that it is not a proper Guided by Voices record. Presumably knowing that not all of the band's fans could, or would, pay the hefty price attached to a box set, Guided by Voices also released a limited-edition (500 on transparent red vinyl and 500 on black) single-album collection called Briefcase: Drinks and Deliveries. As its title implies, Briefcase is an abridged version of Suitcase. Comprised of 19 songs that were personally selected and arranged by Guided by Voices mastermind Pollard, Briefcase really only scratches the surface of the box set, and, for all but the die-hard fans, that should be more than enough. Featuring songs held over from the much celebrated era of Guided by Voices when the ever-changing lineup included guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Tobin Sprout, and including appearances by other former members such as the eternally striped-pants-clad bassist Greg Demos, guitarist Mitch Mitchell, drummer Jim MacPherson, and guitarist Doug Gillard, Briefcase is a likable record; it just isn't terribly remarkable. Interesting as a footnote, but not strong enough to compete with a true album -- perhaps explaining why the material Briefcase contains had gone unreleased for so long.

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