Dayton, Ohio’s now legendary lo-fi rockers Guided By Voices were still largely a group of unknown amateurs when Bee Thousand became a word of mouth hit back in 1994.
The breakthrough album which made them darlings of the American underground, it is perhaps a little ironic then that Bee Thousand was mainly inspired by British invasion rock (though punk and progressive rock influences are prevalent too). The most immediately noticeable thing about the record outside of its incredibly catchy songs is the lo-fidelity production, and the Guided By Voices aesthetic could perhaps best be described as The Beatles with shitty equipment.That is meant as a compliment, and the four-track production technique arguably serves to make the songs even more vibrant and affecting.
Prolific songwriter and band leader Robert Pollard, who worked for some time as a teacher before fulfilling his rock star dream, managed to pull together many of his best songs for the record, with such memorable compositions as the riff-heavy ‘Tractor Rape Chain’, Beatlesque ‘Echo’s Myron’ and incomparable ‘I Am A Scientist’ among the generous 20 tracks.
Pollard’s song-writing partner Tobin Sprout offers up some equally fantastic songs (‘Awful Bliss’, ‘Ester’s Day’ to name but two) and the band, though evidently not professionals, is in fine fettle throughout.
Most of the songs barely make it past the two minute mark, but they are so full of melodies, twists and creativity it would be superfluous to want more. Bee Thousand is an exciting, almost transcendent record that is brimming with ideas and possibilities, so it would surely be a sin not to take it on a spontaneous road trip.
Try Also: Guided By Voices Alien Lanes (Matador, 1995). Earthquake Glue (Matador, 2003).