75 Percent Less Fat: No. 43

There is, and always has been, something about the first album. In most cases, that’s seen as a band’s introduction to the world, the debut record. In a lot of cases, it’s hard to ever match that special something from the first effort. REM’s Murmur, Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True, the Ramones’ self-titled debut, or, already on this list, Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp, are these types of records. It’s not that you never deliver something as artistically great; just that you can never duplicate the feat of delivering a sound never heard before.


But there’s another way that this concept is in place, at least for the listener. The first time you hear a band you go on to love. Many of the highest-ranking albums on this list will fit that description for me, including No. 43, Guided by Voices’ Isolation Drills.


I had heard of GBV before the band’s 12th album and had undoubtedly heard more than a few tracks on 97x during my years of listening to the station whenever I could. But the first time I put a sound to the name was on this disc. Thus, it remains a place in my firmament that it almost certainly doesn’t* with other Guided by Voices fans.


Isolation Drills strays a little from the typical GBV brew as only three of the 16 songs clock in at under 2:30, definitely on the low side for frontman Bob Pollard. And two of the best, the back-to-back tracks Glad Girls and Run Wild, nearly hit four minutes. And the song titles aren’t as random as the kind found on most of the band’s discs. All of this might actually be a good thing, as it’s also got fewer weak links and unfinished ideas that are a hallmark of Pollard, rock’s foremost believer in never discarding any song idea.


Highlights here are first single Chasing Heather Crazy, Twilight Campfighter, the stoner ditty Glad Girls and the best track, the slow burner Run Wild.


*Interestingly, while researching this, I saw that Isolation Drills actually has the highest Metacritic score of any GBV album, at 83/100. I didn’t realize my view was shared by so many others.


Important Information:

Name: Guided by Voices, Isolation Drills

Released: 2001

Record Company: TVT Records

Running Time: 47:12

Track Listing:

  1. Fair Touching
  2. Skills Like This
  3. Chasing Heather Crazy
  4. Frostma
  5. Twilight Campfighter
  6. Sister, I Need Wine
  7. Want One
  8. The Enemy
  9. Unspirited
  10. Glad Girls
  11. Run Wild
  12. Pivotal Film
  13. How’s My Drinki
  14. The Brides Have Hit Glass
  15. Fine to See You
  16. Privately





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