Stand Out Albums has been a showcase for my favorite albums across the vast performers that I love. Covering a little bit of everything from classic rock to country hits, much like Key Movies of My Life, it has been the albums that shaped me.
We land on the third album on this Guster train and, I am ashamed to admit, I actually missed this one the first time around. You see, outside of Parachute, which I had listened to by this point, I wasn’t aware that Guster had kept going. In 1999, to me, Guster began and ended with Goldfly (yeah, I said that on purpose), which was sad but, honestly I figured that they just went the way of many of my favorite short lived bands and vanished into the ether. Only…they didn’t and I didn’t discover that until I stumbled across the next album Keep It Together, but we’ll discuss that one next week.
Today is all about Lost and Gone Forever and, once again we have our guest blogger Ryan with us to give us his feelings about this one as well!
Why This Album?
As I mentioned above, I didn’t discover that this album even existed until I happened across their next one some four years after Lost and Gone Forever came out. Needless to say, Lost and Gone Forever (LAGF) was a wonderful treat to enjoy alongside that of Keep It Together.
The first thing that stands out is the evolutionary leap the band made between Goldfly and LAGF. I said this before with how much tighter and more refined they had become between Parachute and Goldfly but, if you were listen to these three albums back to back, it almost feels like three completely separate bands. Outside of the fact that this is Guster’s major label debut, I’m not sure what else happened between these albums, whether it was personal life experience, some serious leveling up via tour grinding or that they simply ‘got better’, but there is doubt that this album represents the Guster that most people are now aware of. Heck, maybe they had always had this level of greatness and all it took was producer Steve Lillywhite to show it to the world, regardless, This was the genesis of THAT band and boy is it something to behold.
Ryan and Adam continue their harmonies and lyrical tradeoff but do so in a way that is almost hypnotic. From the opening track ‘What You Wish For’ you find an amazing harmonic counterpoint that demands you listen to it on a true stereo setting. Ever since I was a kid I adored bands who utilized stereo technology to enhance their music and Guster has some amazing track bouncing on this album allowing Ryan and Adam to flank the listener singing from one ear to the other and then joining in amazing harmonies that effectively melt your brain. This simple effect is used perfectly but not abused making every moment something special indeed.
Even though this album has a very clear evolution and undeniable growth compared to it’s minor league predecessors, Guster still has the same exuberance and pure pop power that was seen on Goldfly. If you were afraid that their dark and intense songs that were seen in Goldfly were gone, they are still as angsty as ever but with a certain brilliance to the angst. I swear, Guster is one of the few bands that can tell a horribly sad story and have you smiling and tapping your feet the entire time. Every track is insanely catchy regardless of it’s content and that is what Guster does best. Makes you feel good about the bad in the every day. It’s a talent and I for one am grateful for it.
Overall, this is a beautiful masterpiece of an album and yet only a prelude of where this band ends up in their latter releases. Take a moment and relish in what is Lost and Gone Forever, because next week we move on to the 2003 release, Keep It Together.
So now, lets hear from Ryan and get his thoughts on this the third album from Guster.
Ryan tells us how he feels:
What a shame that Kheas missed this one, because in 1999, this was my favorite Guster album EVER! (Though, to reiterate, many of Guster’s albums were at the time the best Guster album ever.) But this album was a revelation! In my musical education at the CD store, I was learning to love bands like King Crimson, Jellyfish and Phish—and members of all 3 of these bands were involved with Guster? Mind Blown! (Full disclosure, while I am indeed a fan of Jellyfish and King Crimson, I only ever had a passing awareness of the music of Phish) At the time, Guster didn’t have a permanent bass player so bass on this album was handled by Adam Gardner with a little help from Chris Manning—better known as Jellyfish’s “Band Witchdoctor and Mime”—for the first two songs and by King Crimson’s Tony Levin on “Fa Fa” and “Rainy Day.” as well as some delicious Chapman Stick playing on “Two Points for Honesty.” Phish keyboard player Page McConnell rounds out the guest artist spots, performing Theremin on “All the Way Up to Heaven”
The star power is cool and the music is fantastic, but what really cemented this album’s “best Guster album ever” status for me in 1999 had less to do with musical proficiency and more to do with the early-twenty-something dramas that came around the time of this album’s release. Without getting too into the weeds, and keeping the story as vague as possible, just days before the release of this album, I had shared my feelings with a young woman after we went to an out-of-town concert. Feelings which were not reciprocated. This friend, who was also a big fan of a couple of the above named bands who had guest spots on this record, was one of the recipients of my gift of Guster CDs. So, needless to say, music was one of the things on which we really connected.
So when this album dropped so close to that raw heartbreak, with members of some bands we both enjoyed performing on it, AND the album having a lot of songs relating to heartbreak, it was almost too much to take. In other words it was the perfect album at the prefect time! I could sing my heart out along with “I Spy” and share in Ryan Miller’s anguish about the events at the May Parade–a nice analog to the events following the concert I had just been to.
But, dear reader, let’s not dwell on a 22 year old heartbreak! I know you’re here for more of the spicy details of my time as Motormouth, the Guster Rep! You see, earlier that summer, Guster released the first of three editions of the Pasty Tapes. Named in honor of the first Guster Rep, the Pasty Tapes were EPs of rarities, live tracks of alternate mixes that were made available in triplicate to Guster Reps, with the stipulation that Reps were not to sell them. The first volume contained a demo of “I Spy” as well as Jimmy Cliff’s “the Harder they Come” a couple of live tracks, and a remix of Airport song. Due to the rarity of these and their exclusive content, copies of the Pasty Tapes can be found selling for sometimes obscene quantities of cash, but I’m sure the songs could be found on the internet with a little looking.
Musically, Lost and Gone Forever is indeed much more polished than either of its predecessors, and has almost none of the goofy lyrical content from earlier releases. The album is at times a bit experimental (see above references to Chapman Sticks and Theremins) but it’s 100% Guster: Miller and Gardner’s dual guitars and vocal harmonies are all here, and while Rosenworcel’s drum kit appears to have been expanded with some new percussive toys, he has not yet added any drumsticks to his arsenal.
This is super hard because literally every single track on this album is fabulous. I know, I have to give you a few to ruminate on so you can determine if you really want to give this one a try so here you go. My favorite tracks on this album
Center of Attention. What I love about this song is it really showcases every member of the band so perfectly. From Adam taking lead with Ryan providing a tremendous harmony, and, just when you get into the beautiful harmonies and skin chilling bass lines, you get Brian’s awesome bongos. They don’t call this guy the Thundergod for nothing and my goodness he really tears those bongos up like no ones business. The song itself comes across as a song about a couple, or just two rivals, who, well, really don’t seem to care for each other even though they are together at the same place. Needless to say, the opening lycs ‘One of us wont last the night’ well, that sets the tone for sure.
All The Way To Heaven is one that really showcases Ryans falsetto abilities. This guy is a master of the falsetto and when Adam chimes in with his lower octave, the subtle harmonies are just incredible. Then there is a tremendous use of whistling and what I believe is a Theremin at one point. Yeah, seriously. just listen to it…
Barrel of a Gun. A song about those crushes you have on famous people, well, they take it to the next level creating a song that I swear is about the John Hinkly Jr case where he tried to assassinate Ronald Regan to prove his love for Jodie Foster. Regardless, it’s a great song.
Hold up, Kheas! I’ve got to get a recommendation in here too!
“Rainy Day” the album’s closer is a beautiful gut-punch of a song. Above the guitar harmonics and E-Bowed guitars, Miller is singing with such emotion that it sounds as if at any moment his voice will break–only made more aching when Gardner comes in at the end. Add in Levin’s tight bass playing and Rosenworcel’s at first subdued but later hand-bleedingly forceful percussion, and you have the makings of one of the most emotionally poignant closing tracks since Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”
Ok, Where do I get it?
So there we go. Now, it’s time for you to own a copy of this, or at least listen to it in it’s entirety, as you should. This is another one I will send you over to Discogs for as it seems it is not one you can get ‘new’ anymore. If you dont want to wait, well, there is always Spotify.
Well, thanks for joining us today. I hope you come back next week when we discuss the 2003 album Keep It Together. Until then…
Late to the Game 7/20/2021
Thanks for reading, If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also check out some retro tv goodness with the ongoing series Retro TV Reviews here. You can also find a few of my other Music Reviews Here.
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these movies as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow us if you like the blog!