Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Guided By Voices
Bee Thousand

Released 1994 on Scat
Reviewed by Le Samourai, 19/07/2000ce

Guided By Voices’ lead singer/songwriter Robert Pollard is either certifiably insane or extremely gifted. Since the late 1980’s he
has crammed an average of around 20 songs onto every album his
band has put out. Their albums aren’t priced as double albums.
All the songs are usually around 2 minutes or less. Many of the
songs contain hooks as awe inspiring as any of the sacred stone
formations in the Modern Antiquarian. Many of the tunes also have a warped, whimsical sense of humor that you can usually only find
on LP’s by Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock, X.T.C., T. Rex, Syd
Barrett & The Beatles. If GBV’s playing of said songs were any
more tougher or sharper they’d be certifiably serrated. So what’s
going on with this bunch?

Honestly, I don’t know but I love it!!! If you haven’t read the
Ptolemaic Terrascope Magazine or checked around US Indie Rock
circles during the last decade you’re in for a special treat.
Guided By Voices specialize in a surreal, savage brand of Garage
Pop/Rock that while borrowing styles from the past (Pollard is a
serious fan of The Beatles, The Who, Wire, R.E.M. & Cheap Trick)
is then drop kicked uniquely through the more than fertile songwriting sense of Pollard and propulsive playing of GBV.

Bee Thousand introduced them to a larger audience and is truly
one of their best albums. Pollard and company blaze through a
slew of moods and styles from droney garage rock (“Hardcore
U.F.O’s”) to Hollies-esque thrash pop rock sing along (“Echoes
Myron”) to incoherent rant rock (“Her Psychology Today”) to
contemplative pop backed by a lone jangly guitar (“Peephole”) and
finally ending with a stately piano ballad sung by another GBV
tunemeister Tobin Sprout (“You’re Not An Airplane.”)

Fans of intellectually lewd lyrics should also stop in here
because some of the songs’ topics are delightfully whacked out
(don’t know if Julian would ever write songs called “Kicker Of
Elves” or “Tractor Rape Chain” but Pollard makes ‘em work.) And
the rest of Guided By Voices playing packs one hell of a punch whether the tune requires a jet engine roar and/or an eerie yet sedated feel.

If you like Bee Thousand you’ll definitely want to go out and get
their other masterpieces like Alien Lanes, Propeller/Vampires On
Titus (2 LP’s on 1 CD but I think Scat might also sell the LP's
seperately (I’m not sure), Under The Bushes-Under The Stars and
Do The Collapse (the songs on the last 2 LP’s are actually a little longer but are still great.) They also have an official website you should visit at http://www.gbv.com

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