Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Guided By Voices: I Am A Scientist (1994)

I Am A Scientist may be the most famous song in the entire Guided By Voices catalog. I am of the belief that the song deserves that particular credit. The version on Bee Thousand is a lo-fi masterpiece, and an anthem for the entire genre. The reason why you must have this EP is that the version on this disc is a heavier and higher quality version. I would love to hear what people believe to be the best version of I Am A Scientist; the lo-fi and low key Bee Thousand version, or this heavy version which GBV plays live often. Oh, and by the way, Do The Earth rocks hard also...

Curse of the Black Ass Buffalo is the type of acoustic number Robert Pollard can whip up a million times over, and there will be something slightly distinct each time. Though not specifically great in any way, it would be a good fit between two longer and heavier tracks.

As I stated earlier, Do The Earth is a brilliant rocker. How this song didn't make the cut for an actual album release is beyond me, since it rocks hard for almost three minutes. Planet's Own Brand includes the line "Under the bushes, under the stars", so right there it is an important part of the GBV catalog. It is another straight forward rock n' roll track.

This four track EP simply rocks. Buy it now and enjoy the six or so minutes of rock n' roll it contains. You are getting a completely re-worked version of I Am A Scientist, a Guided By Voices hidden treasure in Do The Earth, and a song that contains lyrics pertaining to a future album title. It should be cheap too, so you don't have an excuse for not owning it.

Tracklisting (songs in bold make the ultimate GBV playlist/box set):
01 I Am A Scientist (heavy version)
02 Curse of the Black Ass Buffalo
03 Do the Earth
04 Planet's Own Brand

I Am A Scientist at Amazon


hegemo said...

I agree with you on "Do the Earth"...always one of my favorite semi-unknown GBV songs.

Anonymous said...

without a doubt, the B000 version of "Scientist" wins.

Why? Because in less than 2 short minutes, GbV create a perfect sonic environment within which to express the angst, doubt, fear and yearning we all feel about being alive, growing up, fitting in. "Scientist" is a song in the pantheon of great "who am I?" tunes; what sets it apart aren't the lyrics, which are indeed wonderful; but the tentative, emotional instrumentation that accompanies them. The rhythm guitar and bass plucking together, not really asserting themselves, but tentatively forming a bed for the melody. You can visualize the band sort of turning inwards to themselves, facing away from the crowd, circling the wagons because they're going to some place of truth, and sometimes you don't want to reveal your truth, expecially if it means admitting you're scared or not sure you're "cool".

And then that fantastic meandering guitar solo snakes in, like a quavering laser boring in to the spot between your eyes where the energy of the psyche congregates, sending a chill down thru the chakras and a shuddering into your heart..."The hole I dig is bottomless, but nothing else can set me free."

Indeed. I have felt this way. I believe we have all felt this way. That's why this version of "I Am a Scientist" is so good.

Not that I have anything against the "heavy" version...I like it.

The Rock Robot said...

Hi Jazman. I agree that the more minimal version from B1000 is the ultimate take on the song. In fact, it captures the band doing what it does best, creating the best song with the least production aspects. I like your take on the song; I see it slightly differently. I like to think of the "I Am a Scientist" being about Mr. Pollard himself, and his role towards his fans.

I also like the "heavy" version, and I find that most people I have played both versions for, preferred the heavier one too. However, everytime I listen to the B1000 version, I'm reminded of everything I love about GBV.