Category: Certain Songs

Certain Songs #551: Guided by Voices – “Tractor Rape Chain”

GBV - Bee Thousand Album: Bee Thousand
Year: 1994

It starts out with just an acoustic guitar being ramdomly strummed in the corner of a room, as if Robert Pollard hasn’t quite worked out the song that the rest of the band — who are filing into the room and grabbing their instruments — are going to play next.

Suddenly, he finds a riff, and “Tractor Rape Chain” explodes into full-blown technicolor glory, guitars perfectly interlocked, drums right on the spot, and everything right with the world. Maybe this is low-fi, but it sure isn’t a song that was accidentally recorded.

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Certain Songs #550: Guided by Voices – “Hardcore UFOs”

GBV - Bee Thousand Album: Bee Thousand
Year: 1994

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.

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Certain Songs #549: Guided by Voices – “Weedking”

gbv propeller Album: Propeller
Year: 1992

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.

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Certain Songs #548: Guided by Voices – “Over The Neptune / Mesh Gear Fox”

gbv propeller Album: Propeller
Year: 1992

“Alright, rock ‘n’ roll!
G!B!V!
G!B!V!
G!B!V!
G!B!V!”

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.

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Certain Songs #547: The Greg Kihn Band – “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em)”

Greg Kihn Breakup Album: Rockihnroll
Year: 1981

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.

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