Coming from the early '80s generation that saw the American Dream take its place at the end of the unemployment line, Great Plains was one of many indie rock bands that sprouted up from the demon seeds of late '70s punk. With purposeful guitar strums, whirring carnival keyboards, and beguiling but intelligent lyrics (captured on the recent, 50-song career overview disc Length of Growth 1981-89
), Great Plains was the band that holed up in the coolest garage on the block. Conquering subjects as weirdly varied and eclectic as forgotten Presidents ("Rutherford B. Hayes," which boasts lyrics such as "the grandfather of Woody Hayes/Saw the future in a sudden gaze/He couldn't believe they lost the Michigan game"), baseball history ("Black Sox Scandal/What Are You Living On?"), fanzines ("Letter to a Fanzine"), and historic social movements ("Martin Luther and Martin Luther Drinking"), Great Plains not only showed wit and smarts, but a real grasp of converting such arcane knowledge into a reasonable commentary on modern American culture as well. All the while, the band rocked away recklessly -- always seemingly at the edge of collapse. Over the course of three terrific LPs, a pair of significant EPs, and a handful of singles, Great Plains -- which disbanded just over 10 years ago, but has temporarily reunited -- separated itself from the indie rock masses by producing some of the era's most unique, honest, and intelligent garage-punk. And, along the way, singer/lyricist Ron House became the small, quiet voice of a generation that never heard him.