*Don’t look for version 1 because I didn’t write about it (yet).
The Flying Party is Here is what came in-between The Power of Suck and Under the Bushes, Under the Stars. There are a couple versions floating about, and apparently both were close enough for release that some promo tapes exist. Here’s a handy guide to help you keep this craziness straight… and the great thing about this version of the album is that an owner of an original tape copy has digitized it and made it available here.
The Flying Party is Here (version 2)
alt. titles in red, released titles in blue
- Fireball (Big Boring Wedding)
- Ex-Aviator (Why Did You Land)
- Unbeknown Meters (A Life in Finer Clothing)
- He’s the Uncle
- Deaf Ears
- The Official Ironman Rally Song
- Cocksoldiers (Sheetkickers)
- Systems Crash
- Post-Everlasting (Beneath a Festering Moon)
- June Salutes You
- Drag Days
- Bender’s Bluffing Muscles (unreleased)
- Delayed Reaction Brats
- It’s Like Soul Man
- The Key Losers
- Redmen and Their Wives
- Newton’s Hopeless Marriage (Take to the Sky)
- Don’t Stop Now
- Stingy Queens (The Ash Gray Proclamation)
Flying Party, much like Not in My Airforce, is a hodgepodge of studio-recorded tracks and some lo-fi home-recordings. The album hues slightly closer to the spirit of Alien Lanes than Under the Bushes does, thanks to short, punchy tunes like “Systems Crash,” “June Salutes You” and “Delayed Reaction Brats.” Power of Suck holdovers like “Redmen and Their Wives” and “Official Ironman Rally Song” supply a dose of melancholy beauty.
A big chunk of the album is made up of the songs that comprise the final six tracks of Under the Bushes. These are the songs that were released as a separate disc on the vinyl version, and unceremoniously tacked on to the end of the CD version. The story is, apparently, that Matador was so disappointed that these Flying Party tunes didn’t make the final cut on UTBUTS that they insisted on adding them to the album.
Most of the other songs ended up as b-sides or EP tracks, with only one remaining officially unreleased: the brief Tobin Sprout tune “Bender’s Bluffing Muscles.” “Beneath a Festering Moon” (which is a slowed-down version of “Pink Drink”) was released on a compilation, and “The Ash Gray Proclamation” ended up on Not in My Airforce.
Though it’s a very strong album (one of the best shit-canned albums, in my opinion), Under the Bushes still wins in terms of consistency, quality, and freshness. I imagine the leftover Power of Suck tracks seemed mighty stale at this point, especially to someone who had just written “Cut-out Witch” and “Underwater Explosions.” Though I would have shared Matador’s concern when he cut songs like “Drag Days” from the album, it’s understandable that Pollard decided to farm this batch of songs out to smaller releases and let his new stuff take center stage.
It’s interesting to consider how ill-suited Pollard was, even back then, to be beholden to a record label’s schedule of one album a year. Suddenly, GBV was a hot band, and Pollard is officially a full-time musician. As an artist, he’s constantly moving forward, pushing out new product to make room for something new. He had time to write and record a ton of songs, but couldn’t release it all in a timely fashion. Who knows what would have happened if he’d been able to self-release records at that point… maybe The Power of Suck, The Flying Party is Here, AND Under the Bushes would have all come out in some form, in the same year! But it just so happened that he had a long delay in which to endlessly tinker with the the follow-up to Alien Lanes, leaving behind a long trail of shit-canned goodness.
Flying Party version #2 Track breakdown
Under the Bushes, Under the Stars
The Official Ironmen Rally Song
Don’t Stop Now
Under the Bushes bonus tracks
Big Boring Wedding
It’s Like Soul Man
Redmen and Their Wives
Take to the Sky
Plantations of Pale Pink
A Life in Finer Clothing
Split with Superchunk
Delayed Reaction Brats
He’s the Uncle
The Official Ironmen Rally Song single
Why Did You Land?
June Salutes You
Beneath a Festering Moon
Not in My Airforce
The Ash Gray Proclamation
Bender’s Bluffing Muscles