#41: Guided By Voices & Airport 5 – Selective Service
Plunky acoustic intro, almost like someone still learning how to play, then it’s Pollard doing slam poetry over top. Clearly it was recorded in his living room on the boombox, but that’s par for the course in this discography. This one came to me today on the 2007 Crickets: Best Of The Fading Captain Series 1999-2007 compilation, though it was originally on the 2001 Guided By Voices & Airport 5 Selective Service album.
Y’all know I love me some Guided By Voices. True, I don’t often review them here… probably because there’s so much of it (they have over 100 albums now, plus all the side projects, EPs, 7″… it’s endless, really), and honestly I don’t know how much anyone else would care about all that stuff. OK, so I know a couple of you might, but by and large I tend to think of them as ‘my band’ so I spare you all my wahooing about a band you likely don’t listen to and that’s cool.
However, I was flipping through Premier Guitar magazine recently, and they have a monthly feature wherein they catch up with a band on tour and talk to them about their gigging gear (it’s called Rig Rundowns). For this particular issue, it was GBV! I thought this was brilliant, and I especially loved seeing Doug Gillard’s stuff. He’s one of my biggest guitar heroes.
You can also watch the whole video meet-up RIGHT HERE!
These are the machines that power the current touring line-up of one of my all-time favourite bands!
Y’all know I love me some Guided By Voices. Now, I don’t review my whole collection here because, well, it’d probably take up most of these pages (in all the guises and projects, they are very, very prolific) and you guys probably honestly don’t care to hear about every single release.
However, the band has dropped yet another new album on March 23, called Space Gun. I’m still awaiting my copy in the mail (should arrive this week), however I have this other bit of amazingness to tide me over until it arrives…
Ogre’s Trumpet is a live album recorded at House Of Independents in Asbury Park, New Jersey. As with many GBV releases, this one is released in limited numbers globally. There are 1000 double-LPs sets, and 1000 CD copies and that’s it that’s all, folks. When I saw it was being released, I immediately gave Rockathon my hard-earned and it arrived last week. No way in hell was I going to miss out!
11 of its 25 tracks are pulled from the last two records, August By Cake and How Do You Spell Heaven, and they all sound fantastic. GBV have so many classic tracks and the rest of the record is filled up with a pile of those. Oh, and there’s even a cover of the Monkees’ Saturday’s Child. Of course, it all kicks total ass.
The sound quality is actually really great, and the band plows through song after song proving that they are still a killer live act with every right to every stage they grace.
GBV! GBV! GBV!
Check Out The Track List:
Pearl Gates Smoke Machine
Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft
5” On The Inside
Cut Out Witch
I Am A Tree
Your Name Is Wild
The Ticket Who Rallied
I Am A Scientist
Gold Star For Robot Boy
Lord Of Overstock
The Birthday Democrats
Tractor Rape Chain
Game Of Pricks
Goldheart Mountintop Queen Directory
How Do You Spell Heaven
GBV fans rejoice! Our heroes are still kicking ass and taking names!
Yesterday, a parcel arrived at our KMA eastern offices from the illustrious and awesome Geoff of 100albumsin10years! Oh yes, a parcel of much goodness…
Inside was a note:
OMG. This contains three of my favourite things: Sloan, GBV, and COMMUNITY!
First up, the Sloooooaaaaann…
Check out that handsome ‘Navy Blues Brother.’ Yessir, that’s Sloan’s Andrew Scott on the cover of this May 1998 issue of Chart magazine. Inside the mag is a five-page article called Sloan: Fantastic 4, about the band and the new (at the time) album, Navy Blues, which is a rocker for sure, and there’s a bio page of the band to-date as well. Hot damn! There’s a ton of other stuff in this mag too, which I’ll surely cover in a later post, but right now I’m reading about Sloan so that other stuff will have to wait!
And then, tucked into the mag, to mark the page of the Slooooaaan article (natch), was a 7″ record. Oh yes.
[click the shite photeys to embiggen them…]
Guided By Voices – Planet Score b/w Zero Elasticity
Limited to 1000 copies, and including a free download of the tracks, this 7″ contains Planet Score and Zero Elasticity from the excellent 2014 album Motivational Jumpsuit.
This is thrilling on a couple of levels. One, I am a huge Guided By Voices fan and will always happily welcome any of their releases into my collection. And two, for years I have consciously skipped trying to collect the 7″ output by this band. There are soooo many, I mean, they put out about six albums a year for a decade and a half, and each record gets at least a couple of 7″ singles… That said, I always look at them longingly in the shoppes… and now here is one in my house! It’s GORGEOUS!
I am thrilled to announce the arrival of this momentous album at the KMA’s eastern offices.
Disclaimer: It’s hard for me to write about a Guided By Voices album. I tend to love them all unconditionally, even the weird ones. In this way, it’s akin to having children. But my bias is obvious and unswerving. Fair warning. 🙂
Not only is it the band’s first double album, but it also marks (remarkably) Robert Pollard’s 100th album.
Yes, you read that correctly.
There’s no question that the man is prolific, and no matter who is in the line-up, or what project is currently afoot, the music just keeps on coming. Currently, this band under the GBV banner involves Pollard (vox, guitars), Kevin March (drums), Bobby Bare, Jr. (guitar), Doug Gillard (guitar), and Mark Shue (bass). Can I just say (as loudly as possible) how happy I am that Gillard opted to return? He’s long been a guitar hero of mine.
And the record itself? At 32 tracks in 72 minutes, it’s a sprawling opus. With songs ranging in length from 1:01 to 3:44, there is a ton of stuff to digest, here.
Does it flow well as an album? Haha not really, given how much the sounds shift and grow and change. There’s epic rocking, pop sweetness, acoustic jamming, psychedelic weirdness, instrumental noise, wonky drunken leaners… But don’t be daunted. These are all GBV tricks of the trade! There is so much to love.
For this one, you could probably take out a bunch of the tracks and make a top-rated record that everyone would love. But that’s not how Pollard rolls. He branches out, he tries new things, and he includes what he frickin’ well wants to include. And it’s very often that songs that seem weird or awful the first time around are the ones that grow on you later, and become favourites over the immediate hits. THAT is how you know the band has vision. They know you’re gonna come around. We always do.
Me, I love this effort. Love love love.
Long live Robert Pollard. Long live Guided By Voices (and all the various side bands and projects, ad infinitum). Long live Rockathon!
Here’s to the next 100!
The New Hotness Series, Part 3: Guided By Voices – Please Be Honest
Typical Pollard output – in fact, it’s more like a solo record for him than a full-band GBV effort. You know the kind, the ones he farts out in his basement over a weekend and two cases of beer. Makes sense, as he played all the instruments and wrote all the songs.
So how is this a GBV album?
An interesting question that only our hero, Mr. Pollard, can answer. We all know that he won’t.
Better question: who cares?
Doesn’t matter. It’s awesome.
It made me happy just to type that title! Yes, folk, James has passed along the wonderful news that Doug Gillard, who was with the band from 1997-2004, has returned to GBV! Fantastic, he’s one of my biggest guitar heroes ever!
But Gillard isn’t resting easy, he and Robert Pollard have also started a new side project called ESP Ohio, “featuring current GBV bassist Mark Shue and drummer Travis Harrison, founder of Serious Business Records and member of The Homosexuals and Double Dong.”
Gillard will also keep playing with his other current band, Nada Surf!
He’s everywhere! And he rocks!
Here’s the scoop from the GBV mailing list:
Former (1997-2005) Guided By Voices guitarist Doug Gillard is rejoining the band! Gillard has been performing and recording with Nada Surf the past 5 years, and will continue to play with that group as his schedule allows. Gillard replaces Nick Mitchell on GBV’s live tour, which hits the Midwest and West Coast starting on August 13. The new line-up, Gillard, Kevin March (drums), Bobby Bare Jr. (guitar) and Mark Shue (bass) will be recording a new GBV album with leader Robert Pollard in September. Pollard comments: “We’re all extremely excited to have Doug back in the band. He is one of the best guitar players in the world, if not the best.”
Matthew Caws of Nada Surf discussed the news: “We can’t say enough what an enormous contribution Doug makes to Nada Surf. He was my favorite guitar player around long before he started playing with us. We’re thrilled for him that’s he’s going to be in Guided By Voices again. He wants to be in both bands and we absolutely support that. We’ll have to play as a trio again some nights because of scheduling conflicts, but Doug’s spot is always here for him.”
Gillard remarks: “The last time Bob and I were in the same studio together was for our Lifeguards LP Waving At The Astronauts in 2011, so I’m excited to reconnect and be in the band again. I’m also having a great time as a member of Nada Surf and look forward to continue my work with them. Both bands are family to me and am grateful for the efforts of both in making this possible.”
Cleveland native (now living in NYC) Gillard recently reunited with Pollard (along with Shue and drummer Travis Harrison) to record an album under the name ESP Ohio.
Happy Father’s Day To Me, Indeed!
I’ve gotta say, being a Dad is reward enough. These kids are the greatest, and I’ve already been afforded the coolest job in the world – stay-at-home Dad!
But then there’s this thing called Father’s Day. And the kids made me homemade cards, and breakfast in bed! I had pancakes, eggs, strawberries, two kinds of yogurt mixed together (my son’s idea), and strong black coffee! And when I was done eating, the kids jumped on me and there was wrestling and pillow-fight mayhem for a good while!
And you’d think that’d be awesome enough. I wouldn’t disagree.
But no, my lovely family made sure the day was even more perfect by presenting me with this gorgeous LP of Guided By Voices’ Bee Thousand!
It should be fairly well-known around these parts that this is a high-up favourite album of all time for me. And yes, I have the CD. But I was quite excited, a while back, when Scat Records announced they’d be re-issuing it on LP, especially considering original copies range $165-$225 and up (depending on the colour of the vinyl – there was blue, red, white, clear, etc). I posted about this reissue in these pages, at the time.
Anyway, when we were in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, I found this LP in Sonic Boom, and was really, really, really tempted to buy it… But I left it. WHY? WHY? WHY WOULD I DO THAT? Well… because I have the CD, and because I already had a lot of other (rarer) things and my money was shot and I reasoned (took a chance) that I would still be able to get a copy when Mike and I go back to the city in the fall. I have no way of knowing that will be true (it could sell out), but it was a chance I would take.
I told my lovely wife about my choice (she’d made the ‘mistake’ of asking me how my record shopping went! haha boy did she get an ecstatic earful!) and she was obviously listening because on Sunday morning, this slice of vinyl heaven came into my life. Thanks heaps, sweetie!
* Photo credit to Scat Records. I tried getting a shot as good as this with my crap cell phone (and failed), so I just borrowed it. 🙂
Your Top 5 Favourite LPs Of All Time
For my 200th post/review/write-up/blurb/whatchamacallit of 2015, I thought I’d take a bit of a departure this morning, a break in the Taranna reportage (don’t worry, there’s more later today!). This all stems from a (very) brief comment/conversation with our favourite Mr. 1537 just yesterday. I told him I didn’t think I could answer this query, but as I thought about it some more, I wondered if I could, you know? So I’m going to ask you all a simple question that, I think, is anything but simple to answer:*
What are your Top 5 LPs Of All Time?
See? You just started listing them, right? And kept going, because you can’t forget this, or that, or… and soon you’re well past 5 records! At least, that’s what happens to me. Maybe you’ve already got a list somewhere, your mind already made up. This is not your 5 favourite bands. These aren’t just your Deserted Island albums. These are THE BEST records you’ve ever heard, your favourites, without which your life would be bereft and empty and far less amazing than it is right now because they are in your life.
Can you do it?
Drop your list in the comments, and let’s get this convo started!
As for mine, well, I waffled quite a bit. There were so many to list. Hell, I could’ve done 5 Stones records and forgot about the rest. But no, I stuck with it and tried to list my top favourite all-timers. Ask me again tomorrow, this list would be different…
In no particular order, here are the 5 I feel most important today:
Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street
Guided By Voices – Bee Thousand
Wynton Marsalis – Standard Time Volume 3: The Resolution Of Romance
Van Morrison – Too Long In Exile
Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue
Also: As it turns out, on May 11, 2007 (8 years ago almost to the day) I was apparently of a same mind, because I posted this about deserted island album choices. Apparently, in May is a good time to get me thinking about these things… Interestingly, 4 of my choices (in 2015) haven’t changed. I think that speaks well of my love for those records. I’d argue the 5th, too, (I could just as easily include the Pistols in 2015) because my choice all those years ago is friggin’ solid. An interesting experience with the benefit of age, since this blog has been around so damned long! It’s an advantage, really, to be able to cull form so far back and find stuff like this! Thank you, former self!
* Actually, I can’t believe I didn’t include this in my 5-part Get To Know Your Readers series, from a little while ago. Hm. Oversiiiight!
I have looked for YEARS for a decent-shape, affordable copy of Guided By Voices’ Bee Thousand on LP. Trouble is, it’s been out of print since the late 90s, and copies for sale became more and more rare as time went on. Yes, I own it on CD. But this is an album that begs to be played on LP.
So, then a News post from November 8, 2014 on Scat Records’ site sent me into a dance of sheer friggin’ joy:
SCAT IS RE-RELEASING BEE THOUSAND IN A GATE-FOLD LP “VERY SOON”!!!!! This is not a limited run, so copies will be everywhere for all of us to enjoy! Buy lots, for everyone you know!
Scat will also be re-issuing the Bee Thousand Director’s Cut (the original was 3 LPs) on CD for the first time ever!!
Scat will also be reissuing Guided By Voices’ King Shit & The Golden Boys on vinyl! This is a wise move, as it contains Bee Thousand outtakes and other stuff unheard anywhere else. Yes, I own it on CD too (in the ‘Box’ box set). But on LP? Hells yes. A necessity companion piece to Bee Thousand.
Can I even begin to express to you how happy all of this makes me? The site doesn’t give exact release dates, but whenever it happens, I will be a first-day buyer of all three of these releases!
Happy happy happy happy happy happy Aaron!!!
I posted a while ago about the Guided By Voices beer, Beer Thousand, being released on the anniversary of their seminal Bee Thousand album.
Now would be about the time for this to be in stores in the US. If any of our American readers see it in their local beer stores, please let me know because it comes with music not available anywhere else! I WANTS IT THE PRECIOUSSSSS! I’ll pay for your beer (and postage) if you’ll send me the musics!
James sent me this news tonight.
If you don’t wanna read all of that, here’s the gist: Guided By Voices is breaking up. Again.
I’m known in these parts as a pretty huge Guided By Voices fan. I wouldn’t say rabid, because you generally have to shoot wild rabid things (and I don’t wanna be shot), but I sure do like me a healthy dose of this group’s awesomeness.
Thing is, they broke up before, in 2004. That one hurt more, because it seemed like a thing too good to be true (but that actually existed) was ending. Of course, Robert Pollard and his merry band of various and sundry reprobates and cohorts kept us supplied with a fairly constant stream of new music despite the end of that flagship group. Seriously, look up the related 6-year discography, sometime. To call these guys prolific is understatement of the year.
Then, in 2010, they came back and toured again with the ‘classic 90s’ line-up. And things were great. They made 6 huge records, toured and made us all believe in the power of GBV again. And now, this. Mid-tour, even.
Well, how do I feel about it? Mostly OK, this time. They had an incredible run, and then another one. And I am not fooled into believing that Pollard is even close to done releasing new music. He’ll probably have five more records out before Christmas. I don’t expect the content to stop at all. So, that they are no longer operating under the GBV name (again) sucks, but it ain’t the end of the world. Commenters on that article (link above) were saying they were already waiting for the next reunion tour. Ha. I don’t know about that one, but we said no way once before, so who knows?
The only thing I find really shitty about all of this is that they have a pretty loyal fan base (not many are actually rabid, just to reiterate), and to break up mid-tour is pretty shite. People bought tickets. Some were travelling from large distances to be there. Sure, they can get a refund, but it’s kind of a kick in the nuts to everyone who was supporting them. As my lovely wife pointed out, unless they really can’t get along, or there are health issues that make it impossible, they could at least man up and finish the tour. Go out on a high note, so to speak.
I have typed this before, and here I am doing it again:
[thanks for keeping me in the loop, James!]
In the on-going series of how awesome my 40th birthday has been, today in the mail I received a parcel from Super-Awesome James (if he hasn’t got cape, he needs one). As you all know, James is Actual Quality Contributor and KMA Brother #1.
He is also really fucking awesome at finding incredible things to send lil’ ol’ me for my birthday. For the longest time, it seems, there were Sloan limited releases around my birthday and Christmas and, since James is also an Internet Wizard, these things would find their way to my house. Well, since Sloan’s new record (Commonwealth – you know you’re gonna buy it!) isn’t out ’til September, the pattern was broken. But fear not, because James has come through with a stunning piece of music gorgeousness:
Oh yes, friends, displayed on our lovingly restored kitchen island tops is a beautiful copy of Guided by Voices’ Universal Truths And Cycles. On LP. Why is this so awesome? Because when I opened the box and peered inside and saw this in there, I did a happy dance right there in the kitchen (and you’d think the kids would look at me like I was nuts but, no, they joined in). Because this is the first Guided By Voices album I have ever owned on LP (I’ve always bought CDs. Believe me I want them all on vinyl but that’s a very slippery slope). Because Guided By Voices fucking rules. Because this album is really, really, really good. Because James. THANK YOU JAMES!
And, as if that parcel from James wasn’t enough (and it so totally was HOT DAMN!), Canada Post also brought me the Led Zeppelin I Deluxe Remastered copy, today. As you’ll all recall, my Mom gave me the go-ahead to upgrade from Remastered to Deluxe Remastered on LZ I & II! (The LZ III she gave was already the Deluxe).
Mike, you were right, at 3 x 180g records, it does have some heft to it. Yes, it is a very seriously gorgeous thing of beauty. THANK YOU MOM!
James sent me this link, and I thank him for it muchly. You see:
Now, the rest is simple. Aaron wants some. A six-pack, even a single bottle. It matters not. But I must have it.
I also want that 10″ record very, very badly. Like, REALLY so very, very much. And then a whole lot more than that. Simply put, I MUST HAVE IT.
The article doesn’t say, but I’d have to (probably safely) assume that this will only be available in the United States?
To the person who can get this for me, this fall, I offer immediate cash monies reimbursement but, more than that, I offer my undying gratitude. UNDYING. That’s a lot.
AARON WANTS THIS BEER AND RECORD!!!!
Thanks for the heads-up, James!
So I saw a blog post on a used record shop’s web site, where they asked staff to choose the one album that everyone should own. Holy, is THAT ever a tough question. I mean, just ONE? Pffffbpt. Yeah, right.
But, I thought about it. Then, I left it alone for a while, tried not to think about it. Then I came back to it… And I chose…
Guided By Voices – Bee Thousand
It rocks, it’s imperfect (and doesn’t care), and it’s so packed full of huge riffs and song ideas that other bands only wish they’d been that cool. It really is awesome. GBV! GBV! GBV!
Here’s ten others I thought of, as I did this. All of these have equally compelling (to me) reasons for being chosen:
Black Flag – Damaged
Wynton Marsalis – Standard Time Volume 3: The Resolution Of Romance
Rolling Stones – Exile On Main St.
Tom Waits – Mule Variations
Tragically Hip – Day For Night
Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue
Metallica – Master Of Puppets
Sloan – Twice Removed
R.E.M. – Automatic For The People
Rollins Band – The Only Way To Know For Sure
I could go on for days, you know..
Guided By Voices was on Letterman, recently, to promote Let’s Go Eat The Factory, the first new record by the original line-up in WAY too long.
The version they blasted out kicked ass, of course.
And Greg Demos, bass player, slipped and fell, landing right on his ass. He got back up and kept playing, but he probably walked funny for a day or so.
Yes, it’s been a pathetically long time since my last appearance here. But remember, it’s like John Lennon said, “life is what happens when you’re busy making plans,” and man, I have been busy making plans to post here for WAY too long. So here’s some of the shit I’ve been listening to. More to come, ‘cos I’ve filled my iPod with all kinds of stuffs. Wahoo!
Terrible Hostess, Volume 2
Hooray for our friends at Mint Records! As you all know, Carolyn Mark and NQ Arbuckle have just released a tasty new disc of excellent music called Let’s Just Stay Here. Talk about making our year! So, in honour of this release, our great friends at Mint sent us some really sweet swag… buttons and stickers (love the airline ‘Fragile’ stickers with Air Carolyn on them!), a Carolyn and NQ luggage tag, and a blood red dish towel to go with a beautiful copy of Carolyn’s Terrible Hostess: Recipes For Disaster, Volume 2 cookbook! Some of the recipes look downright tasty and I can’t wait to try them (with recommended music playing and recommended drink in hand).
Slayer – World Painted Blood
Business-as-usual chaos as only Slayer can muster it. Play this as loud as your player can go. SLAYER!
Slipknot – Slipknot 10th Anniversary Edition
The CD’s the real draw in this set, with all the brutal honesty and aggression intact… and bonus tracks! Sweet.
Hawksley Workman – We’ll Make Time (Even When There Ain’t No Time)
New Hawksley is coming! Get ready! James found this radio broadcast world premiere. It’s a one-idea slow build with enough lyrics to make anyone run out of breath, crashing full-on into rock-out bliss. Ah, Hawksley.
Guided By Sloan
Just noticed that in the liner notes for Sloan’s Navy Blues, Guided By Voices is listed as having shared the stage. Imagine THAT show! I think I’d pass out with bliss…
Big Pink – A Brief History Of Love
Spent the whole time listening to this recognizing all of the influences that have given them their sound (U2, Oasis, Coldplay and tiresomely beyond). Shame they haven’t found their own sound out of the list.
Cage The Elephant – Cage The Elephant
This would sound great live. Kind of reminds me of the Trews although, if they meant what they said in the first track, they don’t give a shit what comparisons I can make. Just a great, fun rawk record.
Wild Beasts – Limbo, Panto
Oddly compelling, with weird party music and falsetto vocals. Could almost be the soundtrack to a 60’s stage show musical. Are we sure this isn’t a Darkness side project?
Yim Yames – A Tribute To
My Morning Jacket dude’s tribute to George Harrison. Stripped-down renditions show the strength of the originals and let the covers shine too.
Miranda Lambert – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
New country meets the moxy of the classic country ladies of days gone by, with a few dud tracks thrown in. This lady can sing, that’s for sure. One foot in a bold new direction, the other stuck in the same old schtick.
Iggy Pop – Preliminaires
Man, Iggy rules. Only this particular wild man could foist such a collection of jazzy. bluesy, rock-ish and Parisian-sounding stuff on our ears and get away with it. And without ridicule, too. Strangely compulsive, and not just because it’s Iggy (and therefore we must love it). A welcome diversion, so long as it’s not an admission that he’s finally slowing down for good.
Harry Connick, Jr. – Blue Light, Red Light
This takes me back to high school .Yes, I was THAT guy back then. Still am now, I’ll have you know. Great swing, astounding arrangements in the best of this style’s traditions. Could be the soundtrack to a grainy-colour 60’s musical, and that’s a very, very good thing.
Flight Of The Conchords – I Told You I Was Freaky
We all love these guys by now, with their quirky humour that’s laugh-out-loud funny. Even if you set aside the images from the TV show in your mind, this is still an hilariously danceable record. These guys are really onto something.
So you all know that our new (to us) car has a tape deck in it. This has sent me backwards in time, as I’ve already noted in these pages. What fun!
Our neighbour across the road was kind enough to loan me his stereo, which can record from CD to tape. I’ve had great fun doing what we used to do years ago: sitting on the living room floor, listening to the songs record in real-time (you kiddies should try this sometime, instead of just dumping gigabytes onto your iPod), planning out what song comes next, reading and re-reading each records’ packaging, and loving every minute of the process.
And so, what was the first thing I made? Two GBV mixes, of course!
Fans will notice that I’ve cheated and just used the Human Amusements collection for the first parts of it (because all those songs need to be here and it was WAY easier to use this than to go hunting for each record they’re from and take each disc in and out), but then the rest of the mix is songs I’ve always felt got left off that set. I don’t envy the person whose job it was to distill 20 years of awesome music onto that one CD, which was meant to be representative of the work of one of America’s most diverse and brilliant artists. That would have driven me mad.
Anyway, my two 60 minute tapes contain the following (and they ROCK!)…
a salty salute
things I will keep
everywhere with helicopter
I am a tree
my kind of soldier
14 cheerleader coldfront
learning to hunt
game of pricks
tractor rape chain
to remake the young flyer
the best of jill hives
shocker in gloomtown
chasing heather crazy
my valuable hunting knife
the official ironman rally song
watch me jumpstart
back to the lake
I am a scientist
everybody thinks I’m a raincloud (when I’m not looking)
hold on hope
kicker of elves
the ids are alright
buzzards and dreadful crows
father sgt. christmas card
skills like this
smothered in hugs
jane of the waking universe
girls of wild strawberries
my impression now
window of my world
gold star for robot boy
Next up, I suppose, is a mix-tape of Pollard’s solo stuff, and then maybe a mix of stuff he’s released under other band names, and then next I could…
PS: I’ve even had so much fun making these mixes that I’ve created a new tag on this page, called ‘mix-tape heaven,’ which I will attach to all future mix-tapes I make for my car. Because surely there will be more…
This year for Christmas, amongst a ton of other awesome loot, my most generous parents gave me a 1GB MP3 player. This little unit is compact, sleek and lovely. And the perfect gift for little ol’ me! Thanks, folks!
Now, I know what you’re thinking – how could I, the guy who loves music so much, make it to the end of 2007 without a portable MP3 player?!?! Well, when we moved to this small town a couple of years ago, I did buy a discman that played MP3s on CDRs, but it sucks – it skips tracks for no reason (even in the middle of tracks), it skips if you even breathe on it, and it goes random play even if that option isn’t selected. Suffice it to say, it hardly gets used.
But I am quite excited by this new development. Imagine! Customizable playlists of tunes that I can take everywhere I go, and it fits into my pocket! No discs to carry! The mind boggles! … Dear KMA Readers, I know that all of you know this stuff already, and that you’ve been savvy for years. Please bear with me, as I don’t seem to get out much.
But then I to got thinking about what I should put onto this new unit for its first-ever download, and I hit a bit of a panic. You see, I’m weirdly sentimental about such things, and I will always remember whatever was eventually selected. For example, I can tell you for certain that the first CDR burner I had (years and years ago, ’96 or ’97, if memory serves me correctly) was first used to make a mix on a 74 minute Verbatim disc, the first song being the Rolling Stones’ Start Me Up. A completely appropriate song, of course, and I recall turning to my buddy Brian when the disc worked in the stereo and our eyes lighting up with glee at the implications of such technology… but I’m one hell of a geek for remembering such a thing. And so, I knew I had to make this first download to the new unit absolutely count.
And that’s when I emailed James with my dilemma. What should I do? Suddenly 1GB seemed small. I mean, my music collection is rather… extensive. Should I try to make a mix (and leave so many countless awesome songs out)? Even just my favourite must-have tracks would be more than 1GB, by far! Or what about having it be only albums – Canadian artists only, or my favourites of all-time, or just classic punk records, or… etc etc. Hell, I could fill 1GB with, for example, just the Rollins Band! Whatever is a guy to do?
Of course, James was eminently sensible and talked me down (mostly) from my panic. He reminded me that it’s completely easy to replace music on these things, so I could just put on what I wanted and when I get tired of it, change it. Of course.
Well, I’ve dithered for these past two weeks since Christmas, and it was only today that I’ve finally made my decision. I feel absolutely great about it, because these are songs that fill me with so much happiness and joy, not to mention how they get my brain firing on all cylinders. So the player’s now full to the brim with awesomeness.
And what did I choose, out of all of my zillions of options? Well Dear KMA Readers, think about it for a moment… What could you believe, without a doubt, would be my ultimate choice?
Guided By Voices. 453 tracks of it. Wahoooooooo!!
It’s all of their main albums, from Forever Since Breakfast through to Half Smiles Of The Decomposed. And there’s also every EP and single I own (which is most of them). And there was space, after all that, for last year’s Live From Austin, TX set too. Kick Ass!
Now, this means I had to leave off the huge stack of side-projects and Fading Captain stuff, and both Suitcase box sets, and some of the Hardcore UFOs box set, as well as all of his solo stuff pre-and-post GBV, and a couple of other live recordings, but still. Imagine my glee!
And so now you’re asking what was the first song I heard when I plugged in the headphones, set the player to random (by choice, this time) and pressed Play? What will be the song that I remember (for all time, because I am obsessive) as the first track to come through the headphones of this new little player?
Weed King, from the venerable 1992 album Propeller. Yummy!
And so, in the (newer to me) tradition of James’ naming all of his electronic gadgets, I hereby name my new MP3 player Weed King. All Hail the Weed King! Long may he reign o’er us.
And “Long live Rockathon,”* indeed!
*That’s a line from the song, in case you missed the reference. It’s OK. It happens.
List Of Stuff Included:
NB Obsessive fans will notice a lot of gaps in the following list. These gaps are because either A) I haven’t yet found the missing pieces for my own collection, or B) what’s missing is on vinyl only (so far) and therefore not in MP3 in my collection. Yet. And even at that there was 1GB of stuff under the GBV name! Brilliant.
From 1995’s Box:
Devil Between My Toes
Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia
Same Place The Fly Got Smashed
King Shit And The Golden Boys
Vampire On Titus
Under The Bushes Under The Stars
Do The Collapse
Universal Truths And Cycles
Half Smiles Of The Decomposed
Forever Since Breakfast
The Grand Hour
Get Out Of My Stations
Fast Japanese Spin Cycle
Clown Prince Of The Menthol Trailer
I Am A Scientist
Sunfish Holy Breakfast
Hold On Hope (both the US and UK versions)
The Pipe Dreams Of Instant Prince Whippet
The Official Ironmen Rally Song
I Am A Tree
Everywhere With Helicopter
Back To The Lake
The Best Of Jill Hives
Hardcore UFOs Disc 2 – Demons and Painkillers: Matador Out Of Print Singles, B-Sides and Compilation Tracks
Hardcore UFOs Disc 3 – Delicious Pie & Thank You For Calling: Previously Unreleased Songs and Recordings
Live From Austin, TX (Austin City Limits, 2007)
You’ve gotta be sick of hearing me say this by now, but it bears repeating: I am a huge fan of Guided By Voices. Any and every release, if I can find it, will find its way into my house for constant rotation. To me this is as natural as breathing.
Well, here’s a DVD in 5.1 surround sound (released simultaneously, for those who prefer it, as a 2-CD package) of the boys themselves on television, at Austin City Limits on November 9, 2004. And it is a really frickin’ beautiful thing, indeed.
It’s all here. Some songs you know. A few you might not (but should). An exuberant crowd. Buckets of cups of beer and tequila. Relatively tight musicianship under the influence. And in the middle is that loveable mug Mr. Pollard himself, spastic dancing and high-kicking ringleader of the inevitable shenanigans.
If there were ground rules given to the band before the show, it seems pretty clear that they promptly forgot them and, by their very nature, turned the show into what it actually was: a GBV show. In other words, one helluva good time for all involved. They share drinks with the crowd, bum lights for their smokes, and generally prove to be what they always were – a people’s band.
Nate Farley drags some guy on stage for Sad If I Lost It and Cut Out Witch, and I thought ‘now there’s a lucky fan,’ but it turns out it was Pete Yorn. As if I knew what Pete Yorn looked like, hammered and singing along (and very badly, at that). Well, clearly, I didn’t. But there he was. And other fans do jump on stage, now and then, as the gig devolves into more of a happily drunken brawl than a music gig. But they are mostly respectful and the band takes it all in good humour.
This was recorded just over a month before their final show ever, in Chicago. I’ve already written in these pages about the beautiful 4-hour marathon that that became. This Austin set just goes to show you what a bunch of guys having fun can do when they are also, secretly, a well-honed and professional group of musicians. It is such a shame these guys called it quits. What a great band.
This set is 30 songs and a whole buncha fun packed into 97 blissful minutes, and watching this DVD will be the most enlivening thing you’ll do today.
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.
You probably found your copy of this U.K. single pretty easily. Me, I had to search fairly far and wide beyond the borders of my little town before finding a beautiful copy to call my own. But such are the lengths to which I am prepared to go for GBV. Indeed.
Most often, I find singles to be disappointing things. It’s so easy for bands to use them as vehicles for their mediocre radio-friendly hit, and then just fill in the rest with a couple of toss-off demos, tinny live songs or DJ NumbNuts remixes… stuff only the geek completists will listen to, or care about. Total cash-grabs.
Fortunately for the cool kids like us, GBV is not even close to comparison with most bands and, so, there isn’t a wasted second anywhere on this disc.
The Best Of Jill Hives, in its same version here as found on the album Earthquake Glue, is a pretty little pop song with a very catchy melody, absorbing lyrics and tight, interesting musical accompaniment. In other words, it’s a GBV song. Lots to like, here!
Free Of This World is an unreleased song, unless you also own the Matador At Fifteen set, where it is also listed as unreleased… Anyway, this tune is full of cymbal washes, acoustic guitar strumming and 70’s ballad sensibilities. Cool guitar solo, too!
Downed, taken from Cheap Trick’s second album, is a straight-ahead rock cover tune. For GBV it’s an unsurprising choice, given their usual influences, but still worth it. To my ears, the vocals seem a little buried behind the music, but who cares? Any song that has a cowbell in it has to rock, right? Right!
Clocking in at 09:43, this single may be short on time but it’s definitely long on GBV Goodness.
Most people around me have already heard me whine about the ending of Guided By Voices, so I’ll spare you repetition now. Suffice it to say, it was beyond sad to see them end. Over 21 years, and through a large cast of characters, the band created some of the most interesting, intelligent and invigorating music I’ve ever been privileged to hear.
This DVD, then, is a perfect document, recorded live at their final show. It’s a drunken, sprawling, career-spanning Chicago concert held on New Year’s Eve, 2004. The song selection is extensive (63 songs!), the band is in top form and, sure, drinking all night made the end of the show seem like a marathon (the concert runs 4 hours), but captured here is the magic that was GBV. Past members and friends joined the band on-stage, the record label sent the biggest bottle of champagne I’ve ever seen, balloons fell from the ceiling, Robert Pollard bummed smokes and shared beer (and the microphone) with fans… Perfection.
I never got to see GBV in concert, a fact I regret, but retrospect can only take you so far. This DVD will be as close as I’ll ever get, and it remains one of the best music DVDs in my collection. As if the concert wasn’t enough, there’s even some extras tacked on, including four live tracks from 1994, two videos of Pollard recording demos, and a cool fold-out poster of the last show’s set list.
All of the songs are well done, even if wrong notes were played, lyrics were forgotten, changed or went unheard because Pollard didn’t always have the microphone to his mouth… it all just adds to the overall picture. I particularly enjoyed the song selection from Encore #1, but the entire show kicks some serious ass.
The last track, Don’t Stop Now, is titularly apt seeing as Pollard has continued his blistering recording and touring pace with different musicians, but captured here is the essence of a band that will forever be remembered (by me) as lo-fi rock’s Kings.
I recommend that everyone see this, fan or not, and especially if you’ve never heard of them or any of their music. It’s never too late to get caught up, and let me tell you, it’s worth every second.
Guided By Voices meant something, and they always will. They had an appreciable influence on modern music, and their long journey, culminating in this final show, could be viewed as a coming of age, too. To quote Echos Myron, “We’re finally here, and shit yeah it’s cool!”