Finn’s Motel mastermind/auteur Joe Thebeau gifted us in late 2006 with the amazing, out-of-nowhere Escape Velocity debut, a concept album about leaving behind the drudgery of cubicle life and suburban malaise for some greater, unknown existence. Even with the help (cough) of a January 2007 MAGNET profile, it took Thebeau nearly 11 years to finally follow it up with the outstanding new Jupiter Rex (Victory Over Gravity). Thebeau will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new Finn’s Motel feature.
Speaking of T.S. Eliot references, I present Scott Miller’s “He Do The Police In Different Voices” as one of the Best Songs By Anyone Ever. The title was Eliot’s working title for his magnum opus “The Waste Land,” which was, itself, a reference to a line in Dickens’ “Our Mutual Friend.” Miller sure loved his references and cross-references. Though many would suggest earlier Game Theory records as being better (or maybe their favorite), I would submit the Loud Family’s Plants And Birds And Rocks And Things as Miller’s magnum opus. Maybe I feel that way because that album was my introduction to Scott Miller. I got Plants on cassette and saw the band live at Cicero’s Basement when they toured to support it. After that, I worked my way backward through the Game Theory records, where I would discover that the song snippet that starts “He Do The Police” is “borrowed” from the opening tune of Lolita Nation. Scott Miller loved to do the self-reference, cross reference, etc.
The arrangement of “He Do The Police” is not typical of what we think of as a great song, in the traditional sense. There is no big hook, no repeating chorus. It’s White Album Beatles as opposed to Hard Day’s Night. There’s a verse, which is Scott singing in his distressed Alex Chilton voice over a spare distorted picking electric guitar part accompanied by only a shaker to keep time. There’s an abrupt switch to a section (or should I say movement?) that is sort of like a chorus in the middle. An acoustic guitar and a cleaner electric guitar play point and counterpoint while Miller’s voice explores a higher register, making reference to the album’s title. Then, it switches back to the single distorted electric guitar and voice for a last verse filled with references that send us off to Google to figure out where they all came from. “He’s got to be good looking” likely from the Beatles’ “Come Together.” “The crystal blue persuasion” lifted from Tommy James. Etc. The guitar continues and trails off with panned spoken voice parts that sound as if they might be arguing, swirling as if overheard while walking down a busy street. It’s weird and wonderful and is the perfect setup for the more conventional second song, “Sword Swallower.” It’s hard to recommend just one song from the album. Like any magnum opus, it’s really best listened to start-to-finish.