379 to 50: #4 “Game Of Pricks” by Guided By Voices

GBV TigerbombThere’s a ridiculously deep pool to choose from, but “Game Of Pricks” is my favourite song selection to represent Guided By Voices, as my 379 to 50 countdown nears the end…

A truly unique band, it is hard to know where to start when talking about Guided By Voices, as is common with their ever swelling prolific output.  With GBV maestro Robert Pollard having written and recorded over 2000 songs, of which I reckon at least well over 100 are truly exceptional, “Captain Bob” is a bona fide song writing genius, who would perhaps be even more appreciated if he reduced his prodigious output a little.  Therefore, picking a favourite GBV song is obviously a tough task (as Michael Hann has previously highlighted in the Guardian), but the thrilling power pop rush of live favourite “Game Of Pricks” wins out for me.  Initially featured on their “Alien Lanes” masterpiece LP, “Game Of Pricks” was then re-recorded for GBV’s “Tigerbomb” EP, a beefier rendering that is now arguably the definitive version, having appeared on their sublime “Human Amusements at Hourly Rates” best of collection.  See below for 20 other fantastically named GBV track suggestions that could equally have made it on another day.

GBV photo

Starting out as Dayton, Ohio schoolteacher Robert Pollard’s hobby band, Guided By Voices finally started to break through in 1994 when seventh album “Bee Thousand” reached indie tastemakers Matador Records, who distributed it under licence to Scat Records.  With official first Matador LP “Alien Lanes” released in 1995, followed by “Under The Bushes Under The Stars” just a year later, the mid 90s holy trinity of imperial phase GBV albums was complete.  However, increased pressure and touring led to the GBV “classic line-up” splitting before 1997’s “Mag Earwhig!”.  Five more albums followed, all boasting at least two or three classic tunes, before Guided By Voices initially dissolved, playing a final farewell show at The Metro in Chicago on 31st December 2004.


“The Club Is Open”: GBV’s triumphant comeback gig, Matador@21 Festival, Las Vegas, 3rd October 2010

The irrepressibly inexhaustible Pollard continued to release side project and solo records, before it was announced that Guided By Voices’ mid 90s “classic line-up” would be reforming for 2010’s Matador@21 anniversary festival in Las Vegas, as part of a truly exceptional bill.  Remaining active since then, multiple new GBV albums have duly followed, as well as multiple line-up changes but with “Captain Bob” always present to steer the ship.  Last year GBV finally returned to play some European shows for the first time in over 15 years, including an emotionally rapturous reception for their barnstorming performance at Primavera Sound in Barcelona plus two gigs at London’s Village Underground, which was certainly equally exuberant the night I attended.


GBV at Village Underground, 5th June 2019

GBV Primavera

GBV at Primavera Sound, 30th May 2019

And it’s the Guided By Voices live experience that also helps to elevate them further, an ass-kicking rock’n’roll band quite far removed from the (initially necessary) scratchy lo-fi stylings of many of their records.  When I first saw GBV live at the Highbury Garage in 1996, expecting some shy slackers, I was instead delighted to encounter a gang of middle-aged guys with an onstage bar going crazy, especially Bob’s freewheeling frontman antics, producing a primordially powerful amped-up sound.  This contrast between their charming, bewitching records and full on rock monster live persona is just another reason to love Guided By Voices, a band that inspires similar devotion from a small hardcore of fans as The Hold Steady, my #9 pick.  Notable amongst these fans are The Strokes, who frequently cite Guided By Voices as their favourite band, and featured GBV as rival game show contestants in their “Someday” video.


GBV at Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles, 9th November 2019


GBV Garage ticket

GBV LA ticket


3 thoughts on “379 to 50: #4 “Game Of Pricks” by Guided By Voices

  1. Pingback: B100: #71 “No Room 9, Kentucky” by Shudder To Think | No Longer Teenage Fan Club

  2. Pingback: Jumping Fences To Wichita: my 100 favourite songs | No Longer Teenage Fan Club

  3. Pingback: My top 10 albums: 2020 | No Longer Teenage Fan Club

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s