May 172012

Confession upfront: The “friend” discussed here is me.  I have album issues and am reluctant to chase down and/or listen to singles. Using iTune’s Genius Playlist thingy is about as close as I get. I’m working on getting over my condition and I have found a most unexpected path.

Years ago when Guided By Voices was being hailed as the-next-great-thing I read about the bands they were compared to and influenced by and blah blah blah. This led me to suspect that I would dig them. According to said experts, I should run-out-and-get a CD of theirs called Bee Thousand. So I did. I listened to it. I listened to it again. I even tried listening to it by skipping from song-to-song, which is unlike me. To no avail. I can’t say I think “they suck” as it seemed good enough I suppose. I could listen to it again and probably rip holes in it but I don’t see the point in that. Let’s just say that I haven’t listened to it since.

In mod-like fashion Mr. Moderator recently gave me a flash drive with a bunch of singles-like stuff on it. Loads of it I dug. None of it I disliked. I was playing it in my car via the USB Aux thingy and it didn’t always reveal the artist/song/album on the radio display.  I actually liked that I was frequently unaware of who was playing the song. I had no prejudgement on any of these particular tracks. Of all the tracks, I kept coming back to one over and over again. It quickly became my favorite among so many that I liked. I even misunderstood a word that I assumed was in the title. I thought the guy was singing “Hey, black girls, only wanna get you high.” I thought that was funny, gutsy, and cool and so I Googled that phrase. Other than a number of  links quoting the fairly obvious Rolling Stones reference, I kept seeing that Guided By Voices did a song that went “Hey glad girls, only wanna get you high.” At first I thought that there was no way it could be GBV as I didn’t really like GBV. I was wrong.  Here’s the tune:

I still think “Hey black girls…” would be better, but that’s just me…

For those of you unaware, The Orockle is the sum of all of our rock knowledge and experience.  The whole is indeed greater than the sum of the parts…It is…

The Orockle

I would appreciate The Orockle’s  help with this: Can you name one or more Guided By Voices song that I might like? Considering that I like Glad Girls, I would figure that some or all of the suggestions would fit in nicely with it but you, Orockle, are the pro, not me.

As with all Orockle posts, feel free to consult on any rock-related issue that you like.


  58 Responses to “Consult The Orockle: Can I Be Glad-der?”

  1. ladymisskirroyale

    Well, since “Bee Thousand” is an album I quite enjoy, this song may be completely off base. I first heard it on a Matador compilation album and liked it before hearing anything else of theirs, so maybe given the original singles format I heard it in, you’ll like it too. Here’s “Motor Away.”

  2. machinery

    I had almost the exact same reaction to GBV. I have one of their CDs with about 30 songs on it (at least that’s how I remember it.) I was sucked in by their DIY ethos, but then found it turned on itself and I thought the CD was just an exercise in “look how many songs I can crank out in a day on my home studio!” No song really stood out.

    I think this Glad Girl song is a bit different from my CD — it feels like a more craft-fully done pop song … a middle of the road pop song, but still a pop song.

  3. tonyola

    Why am I somehow reminded of Bram Tchaikovsky with this video? Remember him?

  4. Yes, great connection.

  5. I have one GBV CD — the much-hyped at the time Isolation Drills, which includes Glad Girls. They’re just OK to me — sort of like Gaslight Anthem or The Hold Steady, although they’ve been around longer so it is probably not fair to compare them to those bands.

    GBV has a song called Unsinkable Fats Domnio off a recent album that they did on Letterman early this year. Watch the bass player hit the deck at about 0:36. Workmen’s Comp!

  6. I really liked Strange Man, Changed Man. I rescued it out of the Woolworth cut-out bin. Pretty strong album all the way through.

  7. Good, because Bram was the first thing that popped into my mind as I played the song. I thought there might have been something wrong.

  8. misterioso

    “I can’t say I think ‘they suck’ as it seemed good enough I suppose,” were sammymaudlin’s words on GBV, which very effectively sums up my views on the band. They are totally okay and not terrible. About halfway through that Glad Girls song my mind was somewhere else, not because it is in any way bad, just because it reminded me that if I wanted to listen to something like this there are probably other things I’d listen to instead.

  9. sammymaudlin

    Late to my own party. Not sounding like a lot of love for the GBVs. And I’m not saying that Glad Girls was all-that but I dug enough to suspect that there were others as good if not better.

    So far I’ve got the following to check out:

    1. Motor Away
    2. some stuff by Bram Tchaikovsky
    3. Unsinkable Fats Domnio

    Sooooo, not even an EP’s worth of stuff unless I included some Bram Tchaikovsky tunes.

    Is that it? Has The Orockle spoken?

  10. There’s at least one really great song on Bee Thousand, “Tractor Rape Chain.” Once I got past the title and Pollard’s fake British accent I learned to love that song.

  11. I’m a very big GBV fan but I understand why other might not get the appeal. Here’s some suggestions, and if you’d like, I’ll send a mix your way. Shoot me an email if you want a sampler. Also, if you have the chance to see them live, the lofi stuff really gets a boost on stage

    From the same album as Glad Girls:
    Fair Touching

    The Brides Have Hit Glass

    From various other albums, both hi and lo fi:

    Cut Out Witch

    My Valuable Hunting Knife

    Everywhere With Helicopter

    14 Cheerleader Cold Front

    Also, there is some good footage of the classic lineup on the reunion tour if you search on youtube for “gbv oslo”

    I could go on and on…

  12. I’m not a GBV guy, but maybe try “Teenage FBI.” I don’t mind the released version with the glossy Ric Ocasek production, but some I believe swear by the more typically GBV demo version.

    Can anyone track down Townsman Kpdexter?

  13. Also, in the “.500” thread, I acknowledge that there are some quality control issues when dealing with a GBV sized output. But the high points are quite excellent.

  14. I just sent him an RTH SUMMONS. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the return of one of my favorite oldtimers.

  15. Hey, are you guys playing cards? Give me a few minutes to get caught up!

  16. Hey sammy, it’s interesting to note that the original lyric of the song was black girls, sometime back in the early 90s. Not sure when it switched, but probably a good call….

  17. No ducking out on an RTH Summons from this blast from the past! Take note, saturnismine, E. Pluribus Gergely, latelydavidband, and our beloved birthday boy Berlyant.

  18. I’m going to recommend a few songs from the mid-fi period of 96-97, then a few from the 99-2004 era, as I believe them to be a little easier to digest for the beginner.

    Probably the closest song to Glad Girls in the GBV canon is a track off of the album Mag Earwhig that was recorded with the band Cobra Verde as gbv, that song is Bulldog Skin. Another great one off that album is Jane of the Waking Universe.

    Skipping ahead to 99, Pelusi already mentioned Teenage Fbi, but check out Surgical Focus and Things I will Keep off that same lp, Do the Collapse

    From there head to my favorite GBV album of them all, Universal Truths and Cycles and check out the aforementioned Everywhere With Helicopter, Back To the Lake, and perhaps my favorite song of all time, Storm Vibrations. Christian Animation Torch Carriers is another proggy little pop gem from that album. At this point, Pollard was writing mini suites. alot of these songs have multiple sections and changes. it was a conscious effort on his part to try and write a different way. He was trying to write and arrange more like McCartney would. Not that it sounds like that at all, but it’s clearly different than the four track days of his past….

  19. “Surgical Focus” is a great one, and I think I included “Back to the Lake” on that jump drive I handed sammy. That’s a Top 3 GBV song for this latecomer.

  20. I’m okay with the Ocasek production even though the synths sound really gimmicky. But here’s a live version without the gloss.

  21. I gotta tell ya, the title track to the forthcoming album, Class Clown Spots a UFO, fits solidly in this category as well. It’s on youtube. It’s a reworking of a very old song that never got past the solo acoustic demo phase. well worth checking out.

  22. Here’s a nice alternate version of Choking Tara:

  23. I agree on both, and from the same album, if you are looking for something weird but awesome, try Liquid Indian. One of the Cohen brothers named it as a favorite and I consider that to be an excellent endorsement.

  24. Liquid Indian has maybe the best chorus of any gbv song

  25. ladymisskirroyale

    What, and miss out on “Gold Star For Robot Boy” and “Hot Freaks”? Those are eternally hummable…

  26. cliff sovinsanity

    I’m a big fan of GBV, but not big enough to be a completest. I’m sure there are some out there brave enough to amass Pollard’s oeuvre. Anyways, my fave song is an old song that Doug Gillard brought to table for the album Mag Earwig called I Am a Tree

  27. The former is pretty good, but “Hot Freaks” may rank on my list of Least Favorite Songs in the World. I would actually put aside all I’ve learned to like in Robert Pollard’s music and challenge him to a street fight over that one song.

  28. Ya know, I completely missed the boat with GBV. Any suggestions on where to start (and thing to avoid) with their daunting catalog?

  29. *”things”, I meant.

  30. sammymaudlin

    Hope at last! I haven’t had a chance to dig into these but quick samples have impressed. I would be honored if you provided a sampler.

    You can use thebackoffice[at]rocktownhall[dot]com

    This is why I consulted The Orockle. I needed wisdom, experience and guidance. I will listen with open ears and mind and will steadfastly report back.

    Gratitude for you comrade.

  31. sammymaudlin

    I’m putting these two on the list. I love The Mod but his taste isn’t flawless.

  32. sammymaudlin

    I like the song title. That’s a good start. If they had Link from The Mod Squad as a guest voice on it that’d be even cooler. Think Ice-T’s Midnight.

  33. sammymaudlin

    Hence the post. I may catch flack for this but I could say the same thing about Neil Young and others. Not by album so much as song-for-song.

  34. sammymaudlin

    Is this true? Or, as my mom would say, a “wish-it-were-true”? I’d hate to walk around stroking my genius only to find that you were pulling my leg.

  35. sammymaudlin

    Sweet. Dig this title too “Bulldog Skin”.

  36. sammymaudlin

    Just added to the list of potentials. Thanx cliff.

  37. It’s definitely true! I didnt get summoned out of the past to come here and make stuff up!

  38. You cant go wrong with Game of Pricks

  39. I find it helpful to think of the different phases of Guided By Voices’ discography in terms of attitude toward arena rock. The Bee Thousand/Alien Lanes era can sound like a slapdash mess to people without a palate for that kind of lo-fi. Think of those records as a game where you intercept a garbled transmission from space that contains confused aliens playing lost tracks from the Who, Bowie, Cheap Trick, etc. The game is to listen through the fuzz and noise to hear the anthems buried within. The payoff is going to see them live and hearing them played like anthems.

    The Under the Bushes/Mag Earwhig era is essentially Pollard and company experimenting with actual production, but keeping their fragmented, oddball dispatches from another world aesthetic.

    On Do the Collapse and Isolation Drills, they stayed a little weird, but for the most part were actually trying to record the anthems that had been hidden by lo-fi and eccentricity for so long. This is the era that caught your ear via “Glad Girls.” I might recommend then, checking out these two albums, then either digging into the singles from the latter years or the Mag Earwhig era stuff, as it is similarly well-recorded, but a little further out there.

    GbV obsessives will tell you though, that developing a tolerance for the lo-fi oddball stuff, you’ll find many if not most of their best songs.

  40. That wasn’t really what you asked though, so let me recommend a few tracks that haven’t been mentioned:

    -The Enemy
    -The Best of Jill Hives
    -Everywhere With Helicopter

    And–while I would warn you that the non-GbV Pollard stuff is even more frustratingly inconsistent than official GbV stuff–I will recommend a few tracks, because really, whether it’s under the GbV moniker or not, everything Pollard does is really a GbV song.

    From the Robert Pollard/Doug Gillard album, Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department.
    -Frequent Weaver Who Burns
    -Slick As Snails
    -Tight Globes

    Also maybe try the Airport 5 track, “Stifled Man Casino.”

  41. cliff sovinsanity

    If you can tolerate lo-fi, start with Bee Thousand. If it pleases you, go back as far as Propeller and go forward to Alien Lanes.
    If you prefer a more mainstream sound start at Isolation Drills. If it pleases you go back as far as Mag Earwhig. If you go forward, Earthquake Glue is the best of the rest.
    Stick with the major releases. Avoid EP’s and box sets. Anything before Propeller is for the obsessed.
    Any more question, talk to cdm.

  42. A more obscure song worth checking out is “If We Wait.” A really tenderhearted ballad that, while recorded in the lo-fi years, anticipates the “Glad Girl” era.

  43. ladymisskirroyale

    Whaaaattt?????? I don’t get it. I love that song – it’s ridiculous and I especially wait for the “Hot Freaks!” scream at the end.

    Please explain. Really.

  44. sammymaudlin

    Finally I have confirmation. I AM a genius.

  45. sammymaudlin


  46. I am totally with you on the Neil Young thing. So hit and miss but the good stuff makes it all worth it.

  47. sammymaudlin

    Thoughtful responses are greatly appreciated and do justice to The Orockle.

  48. sammymaudlin

    I’ve got a heavy list here so far. Not as heavy as the GBV total output but…that was the point.

  49. If I get the time in the coming day or two I’ll try to listen to the whole thing and let folks into my mind as the song plays. I don’t want to get myself worked into a bad mood just now. Thanks for your patience.

  50. Yup, the Teenage FBI demo is awesome: Others you might dig are Cheyenne: and Jane of the Waking Universe:

  51. Thanks for the tips, cliff. I’ve got no problems w/lo-fi, so I’ll try the ones you mentioned, and see how it goes.

  52. BB Send me your contact info via the Mod and I’ll send you a mix as well.

  53. Indeed! Here’s a three pack from the Olso show during the reunion tour (Game of Pricks/Echos Myron/Motor Away). This is a good example of what some of us were saying about how the lofi stuff works well live.

  54. saturnismine

    Am I the only one who thinks Glad Girls is nearly OCD in its repetitiveness, and is actually only half a song?

    I think Bee Thousand is actually the wrong album with which to begin an acquaintanceship with GBV.

    I second the suggestion to take a close listen to Alien Lanes if you haven’t. There may be snippets, but they’re all tuneful. There are also plenty of complete songs, and the sequencing really works for me.

    Every album since then, including Under the Bushes, has been overhyped. Many have received the dubious distinction of being “the best since Alien Lanes,” which is only a testament to that album’s staying power.

    Every album since then, including Pollard’s solo albums, has quite a few gems, but none of them are as complete, wire – to – wire affairs as Alien Lanes is.

    If your mind was in a state of readiness for GBV, as it seems it was, and you had listened to Alien Lanes first, you may have been a convert who doesn’t think much of the rest of their albums, but delights in a song or four from each of them.

  55. saturnismine

    T-vox, do you prefer the demo to the album version?

  56. saturnismine

    Great song! ^^^^

  57. I’m just seeing this today, cdm. Hey, thanks a lot, man. I’ll do that, asap. Cheers!

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