The Guided by Voices 100: Vol. 3


I had to find some time to lock myself away in a room for a few hours and whittle down the next ten songs in my GBV 100. I have to get up early tomorrow, so there's no time for love, Doctor Jones. Let's get to it.

... My previous 20 songs: Big School, Gonna Never Have to Die, My Thoughts are a Gas, When She Turns 50, Tractor Rape Chain, Land of Danger, June Salutes You!, Smothered in Hugs, Now to War, A Crick Uphill, Things I Will Keep, Postal Blowfish, How's My Drinking?, The Tumblers, Lethargy, Game of Pricks, Lord of Overstock, Do the Earth, Ester's Day, Mother & Son...

I took a trip in 1999 with my friends James and Olivia to New York City to see GBV at the Bowery Ballroom. It was one of the hottest two days I'd ever experienced in my life. I swear to god, we saw a dead man laying on asphalt. He had to have been dead... no one could just cop a nap in that weather. Anyway, while we were in town, we went to a few record stores in the village and I found a vinyl copy of JELLYFISH REFLECTOR, a double-LP bootleg that featured a couple of bonus studio tracks. One of those tracks was"Pantherz", and it would soon become one of my all time favorite GBV songs and the only Pollard song I've ever played live myself. GBV fans may recognize the little guitar riff from "Don't Stop Now." Favorite lyric: "Debbie X I love you so / But there's one thing you should know / If he comes 'round here again / I will have to take my teeth out."

I must make a special note here. There's a certain muddiness in the sound on this track and it's because the song has only ever been available on vinyl. I would not have any digital copy of "Pantherz" if it weren't for the insanely gracious help of David, the host over at Large Hearted Boy. I am now knee deep in Pollard obscurities because of his kindness.

"Pretty Bombs" is a later-era song from UNIVERSAL TRUTHS AND CYCLES, one of the band's most underrated records. It has a few duds on it ("Car Language" still cracks me up), but for the most part it's a great merging of the prog-leaning stuff Pollard was drawn to and the melodic rock the band specialized in. Love the strings, and the Gillard solo(s).

"(I'll Name You) The Flame That Cries" is another b-side/obscurity, this time from the I AM A TREE single. This is just a totally awesome chunk of proggy cock rock, thanks to Doug Gillard on guitar. That the song builds to a crescendo just as Pollard is bellowing about a warlock's daughter makes it that much sweeter.

Sticking to the same era, I'm pulling out a few more songs from the superb MAG EARWIG! album. First there's the drunken, warbling glory that is "Bulldog Skin," born for massive radio but falling on deaf ears. There's a pretty funny video for this one out there somewhere (I think it can be found on the Matador "Everything is Nice" video compilation. For the rarity seeker, here is an acoustic live version of "Bulldog," recorded on a radio program.

From the same album, there's the simple but beautiful "Choking Tara." After enjoying the slower MAG EARWIG version, check out this faster, "(Creamy)" version.

"Why Did You Land?" is another song from their proposed but aborted POWER OF SUCK album. Here, we're back to an earlier lineup of the band, from the UNDER THE BUSHES UNDER THE STARS era. GBV rarely played this song live (if ever) after 1995. I would have killed to seen them do this at their final show in Chicago.

One song the band DID perform at that final show was "If We Wait", originally released on a 7" in 1993 and rereleased on the SUNFISH HOLY BREAKFAST CD. "Crying my life away" is the greatest lyric-as-emo-band-name ever.

"Drinker's Peace" is catchy little bummer from 1990's SAME PLACE THE FLY GOT SMASHED LP. This album has a ton of fantastic songs, including previous 100 entry "When She Turns 50" and a couple of future picks as well.

What's this week's pick from the flawless BEE THOUSAND record? Why, "Gold Star for Robot Boy," a song with a melody as genius as its title. Apparently, all instruments are being played by Robert Pollard, with the exception of the drums (handled by Don Thrasher). Ever since seeing the "Watch Me Jumpstart" documentary, I can't hear this song without thinking of that one super geeky kid singing along to this at a show with about 20 people in attendance.

I'm closing things up tonight with "Downed," a b-side from the BEST OF JILL HIVES EP. ("Hives" was one of the better songs from the EARTHQUAKE GLUE album and will probably wind up in the 100 at some point.) I guess, as a Cheap Trick cover, it isn't technically a GBV song and is questionable as a candidate for the 100. Too damn bad, because it's a fantastic cover and a step in a different direction for the band. It'll probably be the only cover to make the list.



Anonymous said...

Just want to say I appreciate the blog and anybody who loves GBV. Great song choices, I'll be directing people here who want to sample some classic BOB.

Dylan Gaughan said...

Thanks for reading! Only 70 more songs to go...

Anonymous said...

Hey, just a quick note to show my support for the site you have going here. The GBV 100 inspired me to put together my own attempt at a GBV compilation. I have a large GBV/Pollard collection and it was something I had planned on doing for a while but it is definitely a task to go through all those discs and then pick favorites. Anyway, the disc I made is now being used to prove to my co-workers how out of touch they are since they have never heard of the band.

Dylan Gaughan said...

Nice work! If you're bored, feel free to post the track listing here or email it. I'm interested in seeing what you've got on the mix.

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

I'll do that.

East Coast Of Canada said...

Here's the list I was talking about...

gbv mix jan 2005
01 gbv philosophy (from GBV.com)
02 big school
03 gonna never have to die
04 my thoughts are a gas
05 tractor rape chain
06 when she turns 50
07 land of danger
08 june salutes you
09 smothered in hugs
10 long distance man
11 now to war
12 the opposing engineer sleeps alone
13 draw(in)g to a (w)hole
14 auditorium
15 pretty bombs
16 blimps go 90
17 discussing wallace chambers
18 always crush me
19 atom eyes
20 a crick uphill
21 everybody thinks i'm a raincloud when i'm not looking
22 quality of armor
23 stabbing a star
24 postal blowfish
25 sensational gravity boy
26 zoo pie
27 matter eater lad
28 submarine teams
29 wondering boy poet
30 a big fan of the pigpen
31 chicken blows
32 not behind the fighter jet
33 hardcore ufos
34 delayed reaction brats
35 my impression now
36 marchers in orange

This is in no way complete, I'm already remembering songs I could have added. I think the first few songs came as a result of the GBV100 on this site but I just took the ball and ran with it, so to speak..

Dylan Gaughan said...

That's a great mix. A bunch of those are going to wind up in the remaining 100, for sure. I think "Atom Eyes" may be my favorite Tobin song... at least for tonight.

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