c_rosevear | Olympia, WA United States | 06/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Like the Beatles, I've somehow managed to write lyrics a lot of people think have hidden meaning to be deciphered, but I've done it without any of the burdensome worldwide superstardom the Beatles had to put up with." -Scott Miller, Game Theory frontman on his lyrics to "Regenisraen."Cryptic lyrics are only part of the charm of this 1986 release. "Big Shot Chronicles" is a strange mixture of youthful angst, nervously beautiful poetry, personal politics and warm milk. In 1987 I purchased this album on cassette tape, and played it continuously until it was worn out from use. Then I bought another copy (this time on CD)."Big Shot Chronicles" continues to be my favorite album from Game Theory, and holds definite appeal to anyone who enjoys high energy, brightly-presented pop. The album starts with a jarring anthem, "Here It Is Tomorrow" then eases into the sweetly self-recriminating "Where You Going Northern." The transition illustrates Game Theory's talent for entertaining through testimonial and confession. "Regenisraen" is a beautifully obtuse ballad, while the "Book of Millionaires" is cynical and moody. However, my favorite would have to be "Like a Girl Jesus," a strange little love song.Worldwide superstardom may not have been the fate of Game Theory, but this album will always be an important part of this reviewer's personal soundtrack. This album is becoming more difficult to find; I recommend you grab a copy if you can find it, and listen to it several times before developing your own opinion."
When there was still hope for rock 'n roll.....
J. McDonald | 12/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first heard Game Theory when I purchased an old various artists LP called "the enigma variations". Soon after that I went out and purchased this release (which wasn't easy to find).
Once you hear this CD you'll get excited that you've found something very wonderful, then you might also find yourself feeling a bit sad. Sad because this incredible collection of songs fell on deaf ears when released, and also because it shines a light on the fact that most current pop/rock music isn't a tenth as inventive or original as the material released by Game Theory.
There's really nothing I can say to make you understand what Game Theory is, I can only say that one day you'll probably own this CD and say to yourself "Wow, how did ANYONE ever miss this group?"
A power-pop masterpiece
J. McDonald | 04/23/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though many Game Theory fans may prefer the earlier albums, "The Big Shot Chronicles" is clearly the band's finest outing. From the opening cut, it's an impressive effort and Scott Miller and company do not disappoint. The jangling guitars and Miller's high-pitched vocals weave a tapestry of power pop. It's a bit psychedelic, a bit folk, a bit garage thrown together and brilliantly produced by yet another whiney singer-songwriter--Mitch Easter. The sad part is, "Chronicles" should've been Game Theory's breakthrough album. Its follow-up, the eclectic "Lolita Nation," buried its gems in a mountain of Revolution #9ish loops, clever titles, and song snippets--all hinting at what this band could've been. It saddens me that so many haven't heard "Chronicles." Perhaps, some enlightened filmmaker will slip a few of its cuts into his next movie and fuel some new interest in this classic."
First half so great it leaves you gasping
John L Murphy | Los Angeles | 02/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Maybe if enough of us write reviews, GT records will be re-released for all of us/you who can't afford the high cost of their out-of-print albums. In the meantime, this one's the best to start with. It's to "Revolver" as "Lolita Nation"'s to "The White Album." The punch of the first seven songs, through "Crash into June," shows a ferocity mixed with tenderness that the band never equalled on record in any of its many line-ups. These songs are so well sequenced that the remainder's a bit of a letdown by comparison, although fine on its own merits next to the GT work on "Real Nighttime" or the best songs on "Two Steps." It's just that the spirited array from the album's first half sounds as if it left the band winded, and the relative melancholy and mid-tempo, more obviously Big Star-influenced second half of the album (with the exception of the somewhate dated sound of "Never Mind"; not to mention one of the album's best cuts, a cover of "Like A Girl Jesus,") does not knock you out compared to what came before.
The bonus cuts are in the same spirit as the original album; "Seattle" fits in nicely with the latter tracks, and the "Linus & Lucy Theme" is one of the group's catchiest numbers. It all sounds great, and the band outdoes, in my opinion, the vocals at times (the last bonus cut, "Faithless," sounds as if it's by a different singer!) as their sharp, new-wave/power-pop/slightly psychedelic at times melange goes down easy and leaves bits of tunes in your mind for days after days."
4.5 star early set by the most literate rocker around
Perry M. Koons | Crownsville, MD United States | 09/24/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Scott Miller, the man behind the smartest alt-rock band around (Loud Family), used to lead Game Theory, a similarly quirky power pop band from the 80's. While Loud Family's lyrics are the best in the biz, Game Theory packed more hummable tunes into their records, and although Miller has never been "proud" of his voice it is pretty good here. The album's charm is that it really doesn't sound like anything else out there, but it's very easy to spot influences, namely Big Star, Todd Rundgren, Roxy Music, and a little bit of Pink Floyd - yet it still sounds very much of the 80's (not a bad thing!). Song for song I think it is one of the strongest albums Miller has had a hand in.Best Tracks:
"Where You Going Northern" - Miller's choirboy whine is pushed to the breaking point on the chorus here, and that verse riff is all over the place.
"I've Tried Subtlety" - Scott Miller showing Todd Rundgren what prime Utopia SHOULD have sounded like.
"Erica's Word" - GREAT guitar solo, love those handclaps, and a singsongy chorus. An 80's pop milestone.
"Like A Girl Jesus" - From low-key Alex Chilton-styled downer to soaring anthem, with a great title to boot.
"Seattle" - Don't know who originally wrote this song, but it is gorgeous and haunting in its simplicity and Big Star-isms."