Game Theory

Distortion of Glory

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Distortion of Glory is a 1993 CD compilation of all of 1982's Blaze of Glory and most of the two following EPs, 1983's Pointed Accounts of People You Know and 1984's Michael Quercio-produced Distortion, plus a rare flexidisc track, "Dead Center." Blaze of Glory is a clear signpost toward the hyperactively literate art pop of Game Theory's later albums. Scott Miller's songwriting is inconsistent, and the overall feel is along the lines of the herky-jerky synth pop of early new wave. However, it has a handful of early gems, particularly the wry collegiate angst of "Bad Year at UCLA" and the jubilant "Sleeping Through Heaven." Pointed Accounts and Distortion are much improved, and each features some stellar material. The heartbreaking "The Red Baron," an anguished acoustic lost-love song leavened by keyboardist Nancy Becker's mocking "fifty or more" backing vocal on the last chorus (think of the Royal Guardsmen's "Snoopy Versus the Red Baron"), the glorious sci-fi singalong "Nine Lives to Rigel Five," and the thumping "Shark Pretty" (featuring guest lead guitar by former Bowie sideman Earl Slick) are Distortion's highlights, with the sneering rocker "Metal and Glass Exact" and the winsome "Penny Things Won't" supporting Pointed Accounts. The freaky opening of the otherwise undistinguished "Dead Center," featuring layered voices, odd sounds, and snatches of bandmember interviews, foreshadows the sonic experiments of 1987's classic Lolita Nation. Unfortunately, Distortion of Glory stumbles a bit in terms of what it chose to leave out, especially concerning bassist Fred Juhos' material. The sarcastic fake rap of "Kid Convenience" made the cut, but neither of Juhos' other, much better Game Theory offerings did. Either the haunting "37th Day" or the bitter "I Wanna Get Hit By a Car" (which was actually one of Game Theory's most popular early songs on college radio) would have better commemorated Juhos' tenure in the band. Also, for no apparent reason, Miller's then-wife Shalini Chatterjee overdubs vocals and bass on the ghostly "It Gives Me Chills," making it sound oddly out of place amidst its unretouched fellows. Other than those minor flaws, though, Distortion of Glory is an essential release for Game Theory fans, making these otherwise impossible to find songs available again.

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