Sunday, January 29, 2012

Best Bands of All Time - #1 Guided By Voices

#1 - Guided By Voices

The decision between #1 and #2 came down to longevity and live show. Guided By Voices has been kicking ass since the late '80s and are still going strong today, currently touring with the "classic" lineup from the mid '90s. Essentially, GBV is Robert Pollard and His Band of Fools, a rotating collection of rockers out of Dayton, Ohio. 

The Club is Open

Charismatic frontman Pollard is a semi-famously former school teach who is among the most prolific songwriters of all time. His stream of consciousness lyrics paired with the brilliant rock guitar shreddings of Mitch Mitchell and Doug Gillard carved out a unique niche of songwriting unequaled for both the unfinished feeling brevity of some songs and the entrancing rock hooks of others.

As an example, here's a recent version of grey-haired Pollard rocking harder than almost every popular or semi-popular twentysomething band of today:

I actually think its quite sad that today's youth aren't inspired by current events to pen the kind of anthems that my distraught generation came up with. But that rant is for another post.

From 1992-1997 GBV put out 7 albums, at least 5 of them brilliant. The albums stood out because they'd contain 20-30 songs, many clocking in at under 2 minutes (or even under 1 minute). These short songs lent a terrific textural quality to the album that made it so much more than just a collection 10 pop songs (and that's important to someone like me who believes an album should be considered a piece of art like a painting, sculpture or novel).

Pollard wears his Who influence on his sleeve and oftentimes channels Roger Daltrey when on stage, what with the microphone windmilling and high kicks. The live shows are Springsteen-like in their energy and duration and I have found them well worth traveling for.

Unique songwriting, many amazing albums, kickass live show, longevity. These are the things of which Greatest Bands of All Time are made.

The Deets
Best lyric:  I never asked for the truth / but you owe that to me "Game of Pricks" from Alien Lanes
Best lyrics (entire song):   Disarm the settlers / the new drunk drivers / have hoisted the flag / we are with you in your anger / proud brothers / we do not fret / the bus will get you there yet / to carry us to the lake / the club is open  "A Salty Salute" from Alien Lanes
If you had to buy just one album: Alien Lanes (though you couldn't go wrong with Bee Thousand or Mag Earwhig, either)
If you could buy just one song from iTunes: "Exit Flagger" off of Propeller.


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