Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Guided By Voices: The Grand Hour (EP) (1993)

Released on Scat shortly after Propeller, The Grand Hour would be the first Guided By Voices release to really show the world their lo-fi sound. Clocking in at around six minutes or so, this six track EP is for the most part unspectacular. It is mostly known for having two tracks with titles which would soon become album titles (Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand), and for being the home for one of GBV's biggest hits, Shocker in Gloomtown. It also includes a track (Off the Floor) which starts with the riff from the upcoming Hot Freaks. Therefore, The Grand Hour is aimed directly at the collector. And since Shocker in Gloomtown is also available in the Best of compilation, Human Amusements at Hourly Rates (available on its own and in the Hardcore UFOs box set), the best reason to buy this may be its cheap price...

I'll Get Over It is a thirty-eight second long acoustic track. This may have been an interesting song if it wasn't over so quickly after starting. As already stated, Shocker in Gloomtown is the gem here. This EP should have just been called the Shocker in Gloomtown single. A minute and a half of straight out rock, with an awesome second half. The EP price is easily worth this track alone.

I also like Alien Lanes. It has a real funky feedback thing going on, and the song does end up sounding quite alien. Off the floor is under a minute long as well. The actual song is about thirty-eight seconds due to the intro consisting of a couple seconds of Hot Freaks. This track falls in the same category as I'll Get Over It; an acoustic ditty that never gets a chance to actually be a song. If I'll Get Over It and Off the Floor were completed, this EP would be twice as good as it is.

Break Even is a fairly heavy track, which sounds part British invasion, part Black Sabbath. Bee Thousand is one of the silliest tracks in the Robert Pollard arsenal of songs. What are they saying? Webbo webbo webbo-webbo webbo webbo wea bo? The webbo parts are intersected with a horrible quality song which, unfortunately, sounds like it would be a fairly decent one if it were not wasted in this odd tune, and with such poor quality.

I'll Get Over It and Off the Floor are not bad songs, just a little too short even for GBV. If the EP was over $20, I'd say leave it for a later purchase. However, you should be able to find this for something like five bucks. You will at least like Shocker in Gloomtown and at least one of the other tracks (but probably not Bee Thousand).

Tracklisting (songs in bold make my playlist/box set):
01 I'll Get Over It
02 Shocker in Gloomtown
03 Alien Lanes

04 Off the Floor
05 Break Even
06 Bee Thousand

The Grand Hour at Amazon


Anonymous said...

I gotta disagree somewhat. The ep does seem slight at first, but I love the silliness of Bee Thousand, which is reminiscent of the Who at their goofiest (i.e. Happy Jack, A Quick One, or Boris the Spider). Along with the songs you picked, I think it makes for one of their most enjoyable releases.

nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I recently put together a Pollard Spotify playlist called "80 Songs In 80 Minutes" that opens with I'll Get Over It. Yup; I like it more than Wire Greyhounds.

If I ever have a kid, Bee Thousand will be on that playlist, along with I'm A Strong Lion, Deathtrot, Have A Day Mr Clay, Leprechaun Catfish Fighter and many others.

Shocker In Gloomtown and Break Even are both top 20 GBV rockers for me.

One of their most essential EPs, then...