The Guided by Voices 100: The Electrifying Conclusion


We've finally made it to the end of this year long journey. I'm left to wonder what you will all write about in the Comments section now that you won't have to hound me about when I'm going to finish this project. Maybe now you can nag me about which songs I missed.

It's still strange for me to think that Guided by Voices are no longer a band. It'll probably be years before we stop getting "new" material from them (did "Suitcase 3" come out yet?). For now, we'll have to watch and see what Robert Pollard does next. His first post-GBV solo album just came out a few weeks ago. I just got it myself, so I haven't had time to digest it yet. One cool thing for those thinking about getting it: if you buy it on vinyl, it comes with a code so you can also download the .mp3s from Merge's website.

You've waited long enough. Here are the last 20 (plus a couple of alternate versions) in my personal GBV 100:

"Kicker of Elves" from BEE THOUSAND: I think I yelled for this song at almost every GBV concert I ever attended. I never got it, though. That's what you get for being one of those assholes that yells for songs at a show.

"Knock 'em Flyin" from MAG EARWHIG!: 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.

"Learning to Hunt" from MAG EARWHIG!: I've mentioned it when talking about a few other songs from "Mag Earwhig!", but that album had a big impact on me when I was going through some hard times in college a decade ago. I remember listening to this record one afternoon on my way to the second worst job I've ever had, at the Toys R Us in Columbia, Missouri. I played "Learning to Hunt" on repeat three times before I could muster up the strength to go in and face another day of angry parents.

"Liar's Tale" from SELF-INFLICTED AERIAL NOSTLAGIA: Bob as Buddy Holly. Such a perfect little song.

"Lips of Steel" from SANDBOX: Another GBV song that really shows the R.E.M./Wire influences in their sound. It also shows how much you can do within the economy of one minute and thirty seconds.

"Motor Away" from ALIEN LANES: Remember the other night when I said there were two songs that shared the top spot in my heart for "favorite" song? This would be that other song. This song makes you want to get into your car and just blow fucking town. I know because it HAS made me do just that; this is essential listening if you ever need the motivation to completely change your zip code. It's so good, you should also have this alternate version.

"Mute Superstar" from MAG EARWHIG!: This one was always good when I was leaving the aforementioned job at Toys R Us.

"My Kind of Soldier" from EARTHQUAKE GLUE: You can ride on my shoulders when you want. A great song from an okay album.

"My Valuable Hunting Knife" from ALIEN LANES: Now that I've made the Buddy Holly comparison, this song kind of reminds me of that 50s rock sound -- if that soundguitar. were played with half-broken instruments. I love the part when Bob says "Hit it," and then is followed by that atonal guitar. A more slick and powerful recording can be found on "Bee Thousand - The Director's Cut." Or, it can be found right here.

"Not Behind the Fighter Jet" from MAG EARWHIG!: Finally, the last song from this album on this list. I haven't checked the totals, but I'm guessing that at least 10 to 20 percent of it comes from "M.E." and "Under the Bushes. . ."

"Rhine Jive Click" from UNDER THE BUSHES, UNDER THE STARS: Speaking of that record, here's a big wall of guitars and bizarre assemblages of words, like "country dance sell-a-thon" and "electric institute."

"Shocker in Gloomtown" from THE GRAND HOUR: The lyrics aren't even the best thing about this song (that would be the drum stops), and they're still awesome. "Were you there / Were you kicking / Alive in aisle 12 / Gimmick of the century / In boxes and jars / and giveaway cars / He's motioning for you." And the best part: "Bared his ass for all to see / and no one got to kiss it."

"Sometimes I Cry" from FOREVER SINCE BREAKFAST: I think this is one of Bob's more emotionally mature songs, and it comes off their first release.

"The Best of Jill Hives" from EARTHQUAKE GLUE: This song wouldn't be on this list if it weren't for that great rolling bassline and the cool guitar tone that enters at about the halfway point.

"The Enemy" from ISOLATION DRILLS: Power chords! Plodding rhythms! Submarine pings! Codas that go on too long! Cock rock of the highest order!

"The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory" from BEE THOUSAND: A nice bummer of a song, played entirely by Bob, who does a good job with the vocals and a passable job on the flute or recorder or whatever the hell that thing is in the background.

"The Hard Way" from SAME PLACE THE FLY GOT SMASHED: This one mixes that Wire influence with Bob's well-documented love of The Who. His vocals, to me, sound like like a Paul McCartney home demo.

"The Official Ironmen Rally Song" from UNDER THE BUSHES UNDER THE STARS: This is a great anthem from possibly my favorite GBV record. When Bob's vocals go up an octave for the second verse, you're sold.

"Unleashed! The Large Hearted Boy" from PROPELLER: It almost starts out like an old Cure song, before the Minutemen and the Replacements get into a bar brawl and crash each other against the drum kit's cymbals in syncopated time. One of the best song titles the band ever came up with, and it inspired the first real music blog and the first blog to ever link people to my site, Large Hearted Boy.

"Watch Me Jumpstart" from ALIEN LANES: As we come to the end of this list, I think Bob's lyrics from this song are the only way to close things up:

"And watch me jumpstart, I'm Maximum Jack
Shot through the cosmos like an alien attack
Film finished. Fade into black."



Bull True said...

I'm a bit shocked... Welcome back and thanks for this awesome list. I am a big GBV fan but they have so much music that I haven't heard a lot of it. Your GBV lists have definitely caused me to buy a few more GBV albums. Though I have yet to listen to all 100 songs on your list, you have already shown me some great songs that I hadn't heard yet. I wasn't really that into Mag Earwig! before.... thanks. Pendulum and He's the Uncle would had to have been on my list. I marked bugging you off of my calendar since you finished the list. UTBUTS rules.

sh said...

Welcome back. I missed you both online and when you were visiting Chicago (and that made me sad).

Anonymous said...

very good top 100 GBV song list. being a big fan of UTBUTS sorta surprised you left out Big Boring Wedding. Huge guitar chords, incredible drumming esp. that final upbeat/backbeat and Pollard's voice showing grit and emotion during the chicks are back chorus. oh yeah, also redmen and their wives. just mention this cause i've been listening to the cd for about a month straight intersperced with some just as great The Fall.