My Top 1000 Songs #309: Mincer Ray
I've often praised the comically prolific Robert Pollard, who has written literally thousands of songs, countless of them delightfully catchy, both for Guided by Voices and his myriad solo projects. But how about a shout-out for Tobin Sprout, a member of GbV in their early years and, briefly, for an early-2010s series of classic-era reunion albums. While less prolific, Sprout is no less adept at crafting almost absurdly infectious earworm gems, both for GbV and across a handful of solo albums.
And like the rest of the band's 1994 high-water-mark Bee Thousand, Sprout's "Mincer Ray" sounds like a lo-fi demo for a skewed Hollies record, a melodic 60s pop tune from an alternate universe. Indeed, between its roughly sketched-out music and indecipherable spoken-word interlude and cryptic lyrics, the song sounds like something from a distant galaxy's version of Casey Kasem's American Top 40, transmitted across a few light years and garbled in translation, yet retaining its magical melody. Like most of Sprout's finest songs, it's rather slight, a single verse repeated twice, yet the heart-warming, familiar-feeling tunefulness, slightly buried amidst the chaotic fizz, is enough to leave you wanting more. "And a light, shines down..."Tobin Sprout live in 2017 (starting around 1:25 into the clip):