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Game Theory

Game Theory formed on the fringe of the Paisley Underground movement of the early '80s, and though they certainly had a retro '60s sound with psychedelic leanings, the band owed its greatest debt to the proto-power pop of Big Star. Leader Scott Miller's songcraft, distinctive voice (self-described as a "miserable whine"), and intelligent lyrics (often obscure but rarely pretentious) carved a sound that, while firmly rooted in traditional pop, was truly original and defined an era of college rock.

Formed in Sacramento in 1982, the first incarnation included ex-Alternative Learning member Scott Miller (singer/songwriter, guitarist), Fred Juhos (bass), Nancy Becker (keyboards), and Michael Erwin (drums). Within four months of forming and before ever playing a live gig, the band recorded their first album, Blaze of Glory, in Miller's bedroom. Only 500 copies were pressed and sent out to college radio (according to the legend, wrapped in trash bags). The album, while a pleasant amalgam of '60s pure pop and the quirkier elements of new wave, only hinted at the band's potential. They began playing live in the same circles with Dream Syndicate and Thin White Rope; rumblings of the Paisley Underground scene were just beginning. The Pointed Accounts of People You Know EP in 1983 and the Distortion EP (produced by Michael Quercio of Paisley peers the Three O'Clock) the following year quickly earned the band a following and drew favorable comparisons to Big Star.

In 1985, with the help of producer Mitch Easter, they recorded their first proper album -- Real Nighttime -- for Enigma Records. Internal tensions broke the band up before its release, leaving Miller to carry on with a new lineup consisting of Shelley LaFrenier (keyboard), Gil Ray (drums), and Suzie Ziegler (bass) -- Easter would continue as the band's producer and essentially act as a fifth member in the studio throughout the rest of their career. The new group immediately began recording Big Shot Chronicles by late 1985, the album once again showing great leaps in quality. By this time, they had become staples of college radio, though mainstream recognition eluded them. Miller seemed to accept the destiny of the band (obscurity) when he created his most excessive, and ultimately most enjoyable, album -- 1987's Lolita Nation -- a sprawling double album packed with obscure pop culture references and riddled with experimental sounds and song fragments. Lolita Nation also marked the addition of guitarist/vocalist Donnete Thayer.

They took one more stab at the mainstream with the more accessible Two Steps from the Middle Ages in 1988, but its commercial failure took its toll on the band, leading to several more personnel changes, which included the temporary exit of Miller himself. Miller finally dissolved the band in 1990 to form the similar-sounding though more eclectic Loud Family. Sadly, he died on April 15, 2013 at the age of 53. ~ Chris Woodstra
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Tinker To Evers To Chance

1. Beach State Rocking

2. Bad Year At U.C.L.A.

3. Sleeping Through Heaven

4. Something To Show

5. Penny, Things Won't

6. Metal And Glass Exact

7. Shark Pretty

8. Nine Lives To Rigel Five

9. The Red Baron

10. 24

12. I Turned Her Away

17. We Love You, Carol And Alison

19. Together Now, Very Minor

x

Track List: Blaze Of Glory

1. Something To Show

2. Tin Scarecrow

3. White Blues

4. Date With An Angel

5. Mary Magdalene

6. The Young Drug

7. Bad Year At UCLA

8. All I Want Is Everything

9. Stupid Heart

10. Sleeping Through Heaven

11. It Gives Me Chills

12. The Girls Are Ready To Go

13. Another Wasted Afternoon

14. What's The Matter

15. Scott Miller Testing Laboratories: Record Test #1

16. In The Still Of The Night

17. Bad Year At UCLA (Reprise)

18. She's A Woman Of The Wind

19. Scott Miller Testing Laboratories: Record Test #2

20. Beach State Rocking

21. Aliens In Our Midst (Live)

22. Untitled Piano Piece

23. The New You

24. Scott Miller Testing Laboratories: Record Test #3

25. Bad Year At UCLA (Live)

26. Scott Miller Testing Laboratories: Record Test #4

27. Mary Magdalene (Live)

x

Track List: Lolita Nation (Disc 2)

Disc 1

1. Kenneth-What's The Frequency?

3. Not Because You Can

5. Shard

7. Go Ahead, You're Dying To

9. Dripping With Looks

11. Exactly What We Don't Want To Hear

13. We Love You Carol And Alison

15. The Waist And The Knees

17. Nothing New

19. The World's Easiest Job

21. Look Away

23. Slip

25. The Real Shelia

27. Andy In Ten Years

29. Watch Who You're Calling Space Garbage Meteor Mouth - Pretty Green Card Shark

31. When They Have To Let You In

33. Turn Me On Dead Man

35. Mammoth Gardens

37. Little Ivory

39. Museums Of Hopelessness

41. Toby Ornette

43. All Clockwork And No Bodily Fluids Makes Hal A Dull Metal Humbert...

44. One More For Saint Michael

45. Choose Between Two Sons

46. Chardonnay

47. Last Day That We're Young

48. Together Now, Very Minor

Disc 2

1. Chardonnay (Long Version)

2. Dripping With Looks (Rough Mix W/ Alternate Vocal)

3. One More For Saint Michael (Live)

4. Carrie Anne (Live)

5. The Waist And The Knees (Rehearsal Demo)

6. Tiny Steps (Radio Session)

7. We Love You Carol And Alison (Radio Session)

8. Gimme Danger (Radio Session)

9. Love Will Tear Us Apart (Live)

10. Andy In Ten Years (Rough Mix W/ Alternate Vocal)

11. Candidate (Live)

12. Little Ivory (Rehearsal Demo)

13. These Things Take Time (Radio Session)

14. Roadrunner (Live)

15. One More For Saint Michael (Rough Mix W/ Alternate Vocal)

16. God Save The Queen (Radio Session)

17. Drive-In Saturday (Radio Session)

18. Public Image (Live)

19. The Waist And The Knees (Rough Mix W/ Alternate Vocal)

20. Together Now, Very Minor (Radio Session)

21. Choose Between Two Sons

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Boring and pretentious, regardless what the biographer says
Report as inappropriate
:)
Report as inappropriate
jmbockman
Sadly, cruelly, wrongly obscure...
Report as inappropriate
Great 80s band!

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