With a generous birthday gift from my friend Brian and the computer expertise of my friend Matt, it looks like Pimps of Gore is back in business for a while to come. I now have more web hosting space than I know what to do with, so I'd like to celebrate in the proper fashion by kicking things off with a big post.
Tonight and through the rest of this week, I'm finishing off what I started over a year ago when this blog first came together.
That's right, I'm finally finishing the GUIDED BY VOICES 100 with songs 50-100 in one big old lump of rock. I'm putting 30 songs in this post and the final 20 in one later this week. Get your downloading finger ready, because I've got a ton of stuff, including a few rare tracks you might not have yet.
First, I must sum up the previously posted Top 50 songs. In no particular order: A Salty Salute, Everyday, Atom Eyes, How Loft I Am?, Bomb in the Beehive, I am a Scientist, Captain's Dead, Little Lines, Dust Devil, Your Name is Wild, Pantherz, Pretty Bombs, (I'll Name You) The Flame That Cries, Bulldog Skin, Choking Tara, Why Did You Land?, If We Wait, Drinker's Peace, Gold Star for Robot Boy, Downed, 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 and Son, Big School, Gonna Never Have to Die, My Thoughts are a Gas, Tractor Rape Chain, When She Turns 50, Land of Danger, June Salutes You!, Smothered in Hugs, A Crick Uphill, Now to War, Tight Globes, 14 Cheerleader Coldfront, Dusted, Christian Animation Torch Carriers, Quality of Armor, Jane of the Waking Universe, The Brides Have Hit Glass, Avalanche Aminos, Echos Myron, Window of My World
Please let me know if I've made any duplicates. These 50 songs are a lot for one person to manage, so I'm bound to make a mistake or duplication at some point.
THE GBV 100, Songs 51-80
"A Second Spurt of Growth" from HALF SMILES OF THE DECOMPOSED: Another song from the band's final album. In the past few months I've gone back to that record a number of times and found some things I hadn't noticed or cared for before. This song is one of those things. Part of it makes me think it's a song about Robert Pollard and his fears of moving on without the band. "Gather these familiar shadows / I will take them on / The second spurt of growth will come about me / Don't doubt me."
"Acorns & Orioles" from UNDER THE BUSHES, UNDER THE STARS: I've probably driven the point into the ground by now, but UTBUTS is one hell of an underrated record. It has this dark underbelly that really comes out on this song, especially in the claustrophobic production.
"An Earful O' Wax" from SELF-INFLICTED AERIAL NOSTALGIA: Not a lot of my favorite GBV songs have come from this album, but "Earful" stands out because it's such a different song for the band. The intro verse sounds like old Built to Spill. The vocals at one point sound otherworldly, and then the song breaks into this Blue Oyster Cult guitar rave up. Not everyone is going to like this one, so sample it before you add it to your library.
"As We Go Up We Go Down" from ALIEN LANES: Perfect basement stoner pop. That warm bass line in your left ear makes it sound like you're on a couch while these semi-drunken neighbors are playing around you.
"Awful Bliss" from BEE THOUSAND: Quite obviously a Tobin Sprout song, probably because it has that Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd thing going for it.
"Back to the Lake" from UNIVERSAL TRUTHS AND CYCLES: Has any other band had as many hits without ever really having a Hit? As an odd side note, I once sent a fan letter when I was a young teen to the guy who plays piano on this song. He played in a band called Sprinkler on the Sub Pop label, and I wrote him figuring it was best to wrtie fan letters to lower-rung bands, because they were more likely to write you back. Chris wrote me on the back of a Seattle show poster and informed me he was in a new band called Svelt. He later sent me a free colored 7" single and a cassette of one of their EPs. Get Michael Stipe to do that for you from one fan letter.
"Blimps Go 90" from ALIEN LANES: It's all about that wiry, off-kilter violin line. The word "quaint" always comes to mind. Bob starts out with some nonsense right from the start, singing "Blimps go 90" and "aerosol halos."
"Break Even" from THE GRAND HOUR: This is such an awesome mishmash of the best elements of heavy metal, prog rock and cock rock. So much happens in 2 and a half minutes. The best part for me is the little Jim Morrison-esque "the day is done when we see the sun" part. According to the GBV Database, I've never seen this song performed live, but I could have sworn I'd seen it at some point.
"Burning Flag Birthday Suit" from UNDER THE BUSHES UNDER THE STARS: Definitely one of my absolute favorites, and one of those ones that makes me that much prouder of Bob knowing that everything in this song is played by him.
"Crocker's Favorite Song" from BOX/BEE THOUSAND re-issue: There's nothing particularly exceptional with this one, but I remember it being one of the first songs that jumped out at me when I bought the BOX set in college. I really hadn't been exposed to such lo-fi music until that point, and it struck me how little production values mattered when you had an undeniably decent melody.
"Cut-Out Witch" from UNDER THE BUSHES UNDER THE STARS: This always seemd to have a Husker Du feel to it, especially in the fuzzy guitar tones and poppy drums. That repeated guitar line sounds like a Sonic Youth riff.
"Dayton Ohio 19 Something and 5" from the DAYTON, OHIO 19 SOMETHING AND 5 EP: I'm not even sure if a studio version of this song exists. Anyone know? I remember seeing a Guided by Voices show in Philadelphia with my friend Olivia and they played this song. I had never heard it before, but immediately hunted down the 7" after the show. My record player didn't even work, and it was probably a year or two later before I could listen to the record.
"Discussing Wallace Chambers" from DEVIL BETWEEN MY TOES: This song sounds like it came off of FOREVER SINCE BREAKFAST, the band's first release and its most obvious connection to bands with that late 80s "college rock' sound, like R.E.M. and The Feelies.
"Do the Collapse" from the HOLD ON HOPE EP: Not only was this great song left off the mediocre DO THE COLLAPSE album, but it's also the title track! Oddly, that wouldn't be the first or last time Bob pulled such a move. There was a song called "Isolation Drills" left off of the album of the same name, and I seem to remember there being a song called Bee Thousand on The Grand Hour. Apparently there is another song in the band's catalogue that sounds like "Do the Collapse," but I haven't heard it.
"Dodging Invisible Rays" from TIGERBOMB: Another Tobin Sprout song. Everytime I hear a GBV song that sounds a bit out of character (in a good way), I realize it's because of him.
"Dog's Out" from DEVIL BETWEEN MY TOES: See my previous comments on "Discussing Wallace Chambers" or "The Tumblers." DEVIL is a sneaky little album with a bunch of great, homemade classics. This one is ridiculously simple.
"Don't Stop Now" from UNDER THE BUSHES UNDER THE STARS: Arguably the greatest song in the entire Guided by Voices catalogue. In my opinion, it battles for the top spot with pretty much only one other song, which is also on tonight's list. This is the epitome of "fist pumping." "What keeps big daddy happy? What makes the buzzard buzz?" Midway into the song, you get that great keyboard riff (which also happens to be the memorable guitar line in a song I posted a long time back, "Pantherz") and then "We pulled into Economy Island. King Shit and the Golden Boys." Just great.
"Everybody Thinks I'm a Raincloud (When I'm Not Looking)" from HALF SMILES OF THE DECOMPOSED: A cool way to open your final album. This is what it sounds like when it's not embarassing for a rock singer to show his age and maturity.
"Exit Flagger" from PROPELLER: You could have recorded this song in the bottom of a wet shoebox and it would still be sweet. The production values here aren't much better, but you can only imagine how much you could trick out a song like this in an expensive studio and have a real hit on your hands. That's not for these guys, though.
"Fair Touching" from ISOLATION DRILLS: Since ID was such a personal album (a bold move for Bob, since it was also the band's most commercial), I always took this song as a conversation with his soon-to-be ex-wife about his band being on the cusp of real success. "Currently fabulous! And perhaps at last the song you sing will have... meaning" definitely has the sting of someone close on it.
"Finks" from HARDCORE UFOs: Great lyrics on this one. It's hard to believe this never made an actual record. "A lie that's of no aim which follows secrets bleeding to you / Painted over beauty with tattoos of pink and blue."
"Free of This World" from MATADOR AT 15/THE BEST OF JILL HIVES: This is a recent addition to my GBV stash, but it is one that has really stood out for me now that I've found it. It's primarily a Doug Gillard song, so I'm not even sure how much it falls under the Guided by Voices catalogue. But hey, my list, my rules.
"Get to Know the Ropes" from SANDBOX: I'm starting to see the second half of my Top 100 in the same way Tarantino may have seen Kill Bills 1 and 2. This second half is like the weirder older brother of the first Top 50. Now that I've made my way into some of your heads with the poppier stuff, I'm starting to bust out the weirder shit on you.
"Ghosts of a Different Dream" from UNDER THE BUSHES UNDER THE STARS: There are about 497 songs in the Guided by Voices catalogue that can induce pogoing. This is one of them.
"Girls of Wild Strawberries" from HALF SMILES OF THE DECOMPOSED: While not still a member of the band, Tobin Sprout does add guitar to this song from the band's final album. I'm a sucker for that stomping, syncopated beat on the verse. "So proud to speak of how I otherwise am weak" is a great lyric.
"Glad Girls" from ISOLATION DRILLS: I think Bob Pollard had to have known after this song didn't skyrocket to the top of the charts that the world just wasn't ready for this kind of pop rock perfection. I guess he shouldn't have been surprised that his Big Star masterpiece wouldn't explode on modern radio. Big Star never had a hit, either.
"Gleemer (The Deeds of Fertile Jim)" from VAMPIRE ON TITUS: This is totally a Sebadoh song.
"Hardcore UFOs" from BEE THOUSAND: Are you amplified to rock? This thing sounds like it was pieced together from a couple of different sources.
"Hot Freaks" from BEE THOUSAND: This song is equal parts bad ass and silly. Just check out Bob's flagrantly fake Brit accent as he hilariously intones, "I met a non-dairy creamer explicity laid out like a fruitcake / With a wet spot bigger than a Great Lake." Uh... sure, sure you did. "He took me to Pie Land, said 'I am a thigh man.'" Hmmmkay.
"I am a Tree" from MAG EARWHIG!: There must have been bad blood between Doug Gillard and his former bandmates in Cobra Verde over this song, because GBV rarely played it live in later years. Cobra Verde were basically Bob's backing band on this album, and then he stole Gillard, their ace guitarist. The tree metaphor is a little silly here, but you can't deny the greatness in the song and especially the guitar playing.
It's good to be back.