Guided By Voices Bee Thousand: The Director's Cut

Scat Records chief Robert Griffin has the collectors scrambling with this lovely triple-vinyl double-gatefold 10th Anniversary edition of Guided By Voices’ breakout album, with extensive liners recounting the tale of its genesis. Amazingly, there were no less than 65 songs considered for the record, as Pollard repeatedly re-sequenced the album, circulating cassette versions of each to friends for their feedback. After the fifth Bee Thousand cassette arrived in Scat’s mailbox, Griffin decided to weigh in with his own idea. He hoped to combine the band’s stronger rock offerings on the first side, and allow the second side to ride an Abbey Road vibe, showcasing GBV’s oddball outings. Lucky for us, Pollard bit, and with a few changes, the final version of Bee Thousand was compiled and released to wide critical acclaim in May 1994. That 36 minute and 36 second album birthed a basement recording revolution. "Buzzards and Dreadful Crows” and "Smothered in Hugs” still raise the hair on my arms and occasionally bring a tear to my eye — creaking chairs, tape warbles and slightly out-of-tune harmonies weave together in an explosive neuron stew of aural delight. This collection recreates the two-LP version of Bee Thousand (version 2), which will be of strong interest to the diehards, but is a bumpy listen for the uninitiated. Tracks from the Bee-era (many of which appeared on the GBV Box’s King Shit & the Golden Boys) are littered throughout. Tobin Sprout’s legendary "Scissors,” the murky anthem "Revolution Boy,” and a great four-track take of "It’s Like Soul Man” are all standouts that could have been contenders for a space on Bee. The final LP is dedicated to final-version Bee Thousand tracks not included on the two-LP, such as "I Am a Scientist” and "Gold Star for Robot Boy,” as well as the terrific The Grand Hour and I Am a Scientist EPs, and an unreleased version of "My Valuable Hunting Knife.” Overall, the 55-song, one kg. Director’s Cut is a precious snapshot that captures Guided By Voices’ Bob Pollard at his songwriting peak, before he arguably became the most prolific songwriter of our times. Not to mention a great scissor-kicker. (Scat)