It must have been so hard to choose the songs for this disc. Guided By Voices had a long, glorious career and they recorded a ton of songs that could have been (but were not) included here. For example, I recently made an MP3 disc from my CDs of the songs that I like (it makes a perfect car CD) and ended up with over 200 songs that absolutely had to be there, with many left over for a second disc. True, I’m a fan. But I still don’t envy the people whose job it was to create a one-CD compilation of songs by this band. Yeesh. It boggles the mind. That job would’ve kept me up nights.
Another challenge facing the compilers would have been the issue of varying sound quality. GBV was known to record awesome songs in their basement, sometimes using only a boombox or, at best, a 4-track. Such lo-fi offerings sound good and make sonic sense on an entire album of tracks recorded at that level. But pulling one track and then trying to boost it to match the quality of a later track that had been recorded in a studio must have been a nightmare, indeed.
In all, though, they didn’t too bad of a job, and a lot of the hits are here. Hits, you say? Well sure! OK, try this: If ever there was a CD containing GBV songs that you might have heard somewhere sometime, this is it. I won’t even begin to list what I like about the songs on this disc. Just scroll to the Track Listing (below) and get an eyeful of the song titles and, if you know wherefrom I’m coming, you’ll know what I mean when I say that this disc is really, really cool.
Many bands out there have dreams and hopes that in their careers, however long or short that may be, they might at one point record just one song that’s as good as any of the tracks on this disc. Most of those bands fail. Some don’t come even close. And yet here’s a band that played for two decades and this disc, while surely intended as a retrospective, is only a miniscule taste of the enduring and amazing list of songs they have offered to the music g-ds.
You know, 20 years from now when this kind of music sees a resurgence and a whole new crop of teens calls out the name GBV as an influence, you can say you read it here first: I TOLD YOU SO.
The club is open, indeed.
Collector-Geek Note: This disc also appears in the 5 CD / 1 DVD box set called Hardcore UFOs: Revelations, Epiphanies And Fast Food In The Western Hemisphere with a very different track order. It’s mostly the same songs, but the 7” versions of Game Of Pricks and Motor Away are removed (they appear on Disc 2 of the box) and are replaced by the album versions. Instead, the 7” version of I Am A Scientist is added. Then again, if you’re a GBV fan like me, you knew this already. Right on.