Guided by Voices – The Grand Hour EP
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2014
In college, I spent way more money than I should have on records. This sad fact is the reason this blog exists. In recent years, I’ve learned a great deal about self control and my record buying has been almost exclusively to buying records at work with my employee discount, and even then nothing over $10. Still, it’s incredibly dangerous walking into Love Garden with a wad of birthday cash in my wallet, and when GBV records show up, well, the money is as good as spent as GBV records are my kryptonite. The only thing other than books that I truly enjoy collecting. The Grand Hour EP was impossible to pass up, not only because of its importance in GBV’s discography (it’s not really that masterful of a record, but it almost directly precedes Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes and contains those albums’ title tracks and the 7”s weirdness is almost like a preamble to two of the greatest albums ever recorded by anyone ever) but because it has “Shocker in Gloomtown.” The song was amazingly popularized by the Breeders, but the GBV original crams an obscene amount of punch into its brisk minute-and-a-half long frame that the track positively explodes. It is infinitely replayable, and usually finds its way into the first five tracks on every GBV mix I make for the uninitiated. Outside of “Shocker in Gloomtown,” the EP is full of weirdness. A five-second snippet of the guitar line from “Hot Freaks” opens the second side and is followed by Tobin Sprout’s brief and gorgeous “Off the Floor,” which is polluted by Bob Pollard wailing and some skronky guitars in the not-so-distant background. “Break Even” nails down GBV’s knack for mid-song stylistic change by morphing a heavy stomper into a lovely acoustic interlude before turning up the heat again. The whole affair is a slice of wonderful weird.
The Grand Hour entire:
And here's the Breeders' cover of "Shocker in Gloomtown" for kicks. Notice the familiar faces hounding that Dayton, Ohio garage!