Purchase, Guided By Voice's Lips of Steel
To pinpoint one song in the vast pantheon that Guided By Voices has written and recorded over 30 years is a little like that proverbial needle that got lost in the haystack.
“Lips of Steel” comes from their second album, 1987’s Sandbox, and stands as the perfect introduction to GBV’s unique, and now singularly owned style and sound. At 1:33 playing time, the song is: lo-fi, guitar-driven, amped up and hook-laden power pop, recorded through a tape player and sounding as if being played at the world’s greatest underwater stadium, by an oddly unique version of every great arena-rock band you've ever fist pumped along to, who just happened to have bought their instruments at the toy store on their way to a Dungeon’s and Dragons tournament being held in the dingy backroom of a great ABC store. Beer soaked, impossible to truly define, led by a former middle school teacher, covering a vast and vastly odd exhibition of acid-trip, tongue-tied, four-eyed images and ideas, GBV is a puzzle in a maze in a cork-screw universe of every teenage boy’s tennis-racket guitar and hairbrush microphone bedroom fantasy concert. To see them live is to be a convert; to introduce them to the unbaptized makes one a beneficent saint.
Guided By Voices? 25 albums, 39 singles and EPs, 7 box sets. 2 books. 2,000 plus songs. A lovingly devoted following of numbers-obsessed statisticians/fans (GBVDB.com). GBV occupies a universe of its own unique universe. Their just released August by Cake is lead singer Robert Pollard’s 100th studio album and the band’s first double album. Prolific is a failure of semantics. Not everything is great, nor could it be with this much material. But when GBV hits the mark, it’s electric. If you’ve never listened to GBV, start anywhere, work your way through in any order. You’ll find a least a few ear-worm favorites; you’ll recognize not a few rock clichés redone to perfection; you’ll discover a universe of music you never knew could happen. For the uninitiated, “Lips of Steel” is a great starting point. Happy traveling.