Tuesday, November 15, 2005

human amusements at hourly rates

Some things you need to know about me: I don't take recommendations too kindly. Nothing is more likely to get me to ignore something than someone who's opinion I respect telling me, "you'll love this!" (and yes, I am aware of the ironies involved in being responsible for a mp3 blog, but we each have our crosses to bear).

Secondly, I ALWAYS get things too late, or at least 6 months after everyone else.

Case in point: my good friend Brian, former band-mate and tape-maker extraordinaire, repeatedly tried to get me into Guided By Voices but I just didn't get it, didn't see what the fuss was. And he was right, I should have loved them. They had everything I need from an indie-rock band - let's look at the facts:

1) bewildering song and album titles
2) self-mythologising frontman/songwriter
and most importantly;
3) preposterously labyrinthine back catalogue consisting mostly of ludicrously hard-to-track-down records

What's not to love??

On 31 December 2004, Guided By Voices called it a day. With astonishing timing, two weeks later I bought "Human Amusements At An Hourly Rate", a 32-track GBV best of. Guess what? I love it. And, yes, I am an ass.

Guided By Voices - Surgical Focus (from "Do The Collapse")

It's well documented that Bob Pollard is a complete Beatles-freak - but not in an Oasis-magpie style, nicking all the best bits. It's like he's really studied them and learnt from them - the chord change at the start of the chorus (dip to relative minor followed by a chromatic descending sequence, if you want to know) is pure Lennon & McCartney. Doesn't matter what the song's about, it's a class example of word-painting and it makes it feel like it should be about something.

Guided By Voices - Teenage FBI (from "Wish In One Hand" EP)

I've no idea if the tracks I've chosen are representative of their work as a whole, all I know is that they worked for me and made me feel stupid for not having paid attention at the time. Maybe they'll do the same for you, or you can point me in the direction of further listening.

Guided By Voices - Things I Will Keep (from "Alien Lanes")

I won't insult them by trying to cobble together a potted version of their 21-year history, you should really check out their Wikipedia entry, which tells you all you need to know.

Guided By Voices - The Best Of Jill Hives (from "Earthquake Glue")

... and Brian, if you're reading this, sorry! I'll make up for it with a comprehensive set of links...

Read the Pitchfork review of the final GBV shows
Play with the GBV song title creator!
Visit GBV.com
Watch "Guided By Voices: The Electrifying Conclusion" on DVD
Read "Guided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll"
Buy "Human Amusements at Hourly Rates - The Best of Guided By Voices"

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