Friday, October 14, 2016


Game Theory
The Big Shot Chronicles
Omnivore Recordings

This is Game Theory at their most pop, which is to say, direct, streamlined, and concise. That goes for the lyrics, too, even when Scott Miller didn't give their meaning, allowing for interpretations, like on "Regenisraen," a made-up word that came to Miller in a dream, and could be about Christmas, losing a friend, or having a lonely middle of the night.

I remember seeing reviews of this album back in the day, that swore the title was a play on John Cheever’s The Wapshot Chronicles, but Big Shot was actually a photo lab where the band rehearsed.

BSC was my starting point with Scott. I heard the wonderful "Here It Is Tomorrow" on Princeton’s WPRB, ran to buy the album, and never looked back. It could be like that for you, too. If you want to hear a lost classic, or want to get to know Scott’s music, this album is for you.  This is pop in a way that should’ve been a hit, like the mighty "Erica’s Word," as close to a perfect pop song as you’re likely to find. To paraphrase a line about the Bangles album All Over the Place in Scott’s book of music criticism, Music: What Happened?, “If this had been the album that sold, what then?”

The bonus tracks could be their own album of covers, alternate mixes, and demos. I’m partial to the live version of the stinging "Make Any Vows," the rough mix of "Erica’s Word," their take on Todd Rundgren’s "Couldn’t I Just Tell You," and the band’s lovely cover of "Sweet Jane."

Now, a word about everyone who made the music with Scott: the great Gil Ray, alternating between thunder drumming and laying back, Suzi Ziegler the master bass player. Shelley LaFreniere, one of the best keyboardists I’ve ever heard. Mitch Easter was the perfect producer; he knew exactly what to do to make this album so great.

Kudos to Omnivore for putting this album back in play. It’s been MIA for too long, and hasn’t dated one iota during that time. It still sounds fresh, modern, and is a tribute to how wonderful and underrated the late Scott Miller was.
Andrea Weiss


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