Album: Bee Thousand
I’m pretty sure the first time I heard of Guided by Voices was by reading about them in SPIN, whose Senior Editor, Jim Greer, had just written a biography of R.E.M. I liked called Behind The Mask.
I don’t remember exactly what he wrote about GBV, I just remember there was a Jim Greer piece in SPIN that really made me want to hear them. Because that’s how we still discovered music in 1994: we found writers whose opinions we trusted, and triangulated their recommendations with our individual tastes.
Like so many people, Bee Thousand was where I first heard Guided by Voices, and because of the beyond-indie nature of their back catalog, I’m not sure when I heard Propeller.
My guess is that I found it at Amoeba as part of the Vampire on Titus CD, which helpfully appended Propeller, but which also meant that the superior Propeller material showed up halfway through, and it took me a long time to figure out what was what.
“Alright, rock ‘n’ roll!
This is where the legend begins. Sure, Guided by Voices were a band prior to Propeller, but this is still where the legend begins.
The big rock. The prog rock. The lo-fi. The pop hooks. It’s all here on nearly six minutes of poorly-recorded yet still transcendent bliss. “Over The Neptune / Mesh Gear Fox” might not be the longest song ever recorded by GBV, but it’s the longest of the 229 Guided By Voices songs that are in my iTunes.
Because I actually kept records for a short period of time, I can report that I saw The Greg Kihn Band six times between March ’81 & October ’82.
Why? For one reason, neither Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty were playing Fresno during that time period, and while seeing The Greg Kihn Band wasn’t even close to seeing Bruce or Tom — both of whom Tim & I road-tripped to see late in the summer of ’81 — it was a reasonable enough simulacrum, especially considering the amount of effort it took to get to the Star Palace, where he played a lot of those shows.
Album: Gas Food Lodging
Here’s the thing about the so-called “Paisley Underground,” the loose collective of bands that produced some of the greatest alt-rock of the 1980s: a lot of them ended up being proto-Americana bands.
I’m thinking primarily of The Long Ryders, The Dream Syndicate and Green on Red, the key members of which of course fueled Danny & Dusty’s still eternal The Lost Weekend.
I mean, after all, The Long Ryders were never all that psychedelic in the first place, The Dream Syndicate mostly on the basis of Karl Precoda’s guitar, and Green on Red primarily because their early sound was dominated by Chris Cacavas’s swirling organ.