Saturday, March 04, 2006

Have You Seen The Other (Guy) Baby?

He’s standing in the shadow of the genius in the band. He’s the other singer, the other songwriter. We’re talking about bands, yes, made up of distinct individuals who bring their own musical talent to the group. But usually there is the one main guy, the singer/songwriter/frontman/leader guy. The guy who gets most of the glory. For example, Guided By Voices was Robert Pollard’s band. If you just scratch the surface of the group you could say GBV = R. Pollard. But Pollard did make room for a song or two from the other guy. In the 90's the other guy was usually Tobin Sprout. Let’s here it for the other guy in GBV right here. This one’s called Atom Eyes.

The same dynamic went on in the band Pavement. It was a Stephen Malkmus production most of the time. But don’t forget about Spiral Stairs. I have to warn you I don’t know exactly who wrote what in Pavement. But let’s just say Spiral probably wrote Kennel District. It’s a song that’s been going through my head for a few months now. It’s from the densely packed album Wowee Zowee, yet it stands out like a single.

Let’s now go back in rock history to the band Big Star. Alex Chilton was the main man, but there was also the other guy, Chris Bell. I’m not a real Big Star historian, but it seems they were creative equals in the early days of the band, circa 1972. Then Chris left the group but maybe still had a lot of input on the second album. I don’t know. Alex had a musical life before and after Big Star, and it’s pretty well known. He had a hit in the 60's called The Letter. The Replacements wrote a song about him. Yeah. But check out Chris from his solo work after leaving Big Star. He is the cosmos.

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