Bee Thousand

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Bee Thousand
Against a blank white background, the band name appears upside-down in a distressed font. The album title appears orientated normally. Below the text is a relatively small collaged image of a wizard wearing a purple hat and cape facing a dark silhouette of a house.
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 21, 1994
RecordedVarious places in Dayton, Ohio, with recordings pulled from as far back as the early 1980s
GenreIndie rock, psychedelic rock, lo-fi,[1][2] avant-pop,[3] progressive pop[3]
Guided by Voices chronology
Vampire on Titus
Bee Thousand
Alien Lanes
Alternative cover
Bee Thousand was reissued in 2004 as Bee Thousand: The Director's Cut.
Bee Thousand was reissued in 2004 as Bee Thousand: The Director's Cut.
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[4]
Chicago Tribune3.5/4 stars[5]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[6]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[7]
Mojo4/5 stars[8]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[11]
Spin5/5 stars[12]
The Village VoiceB−[13]
Professional ratings
Bee Thousand: The Director's Cut
Review scores
Stylus MagazineA+[15]

Bee Thousand is the seventh album by American indie rock band Guided by Voices, released on June 21, 1994 on Scat Records. After its release the band became one of the more prominent groups associated with the "lo-fi" genre, a movement defined by the relatively low fidelity of audio releases. Musically, the album draws inspiration from British Invasion-era rock music and punk rock. Following the release of Bee Thousand, the band began to attract interest from other record labels, eventually signing with Matador for their next album.


Guided by Voices is a Dayton, Ohio-based band formed in 1983. Although by 1992 the band had released five full-length albums (not including their 1986 debut EP, Forever Since Breakfast), Guided by Voices was not a band in a conventional sense; its line-up was extremely loose, consisting of whoever of a group of friends showed up to short notice recording sessions. Robert Pollard thought of Guided by Voices as more of a "songwriter's guild" than a band, and also said that "Whoever could come over would play. [...] It was just a bunch of friends who could occasionally get together so it didn't really feel like a band."[16]

Bee Thousand was to be the original band's final album. Pollard was close to disbanding Guided by Voices by 1993, due to financial constraints and pressure to focus more on his family and teaching career;[17] Pollard has also stated that the band was nearly broken up as early as 1991, during the creation of Propeller.[18] Pollard was also struggling with writing for a follow-up record to Vampire on Titus and Propeller, which had been the band's two most noticed records yet. However, it occurred to him to "deconstruct" and "reconstruct" the band's older, unused material into new songs.[16]


Unlike some of the band's earlier releases, Bee Thousand was not recorded in a studio, but rather on four track machines or other primitive home recording devices in the garages and basements of various band members. Moreover, many of the demo takes of the songs were the ones that were used for the album. Due in part to both of these factors, several unusual errors are present in the album's recording and mixing; for example, the guitar track drops out at one point in "Hardcore UFO's".[19] The band's choice to use inexpensive recording devices was initially a matter of economics, but eventually the band grew to prefer the sound. Pollard said that:

...For our first [EP], Forever Since Breakfast, we went into a studio and created a very mediocre recording out of a very sterile environment. I thought, "Fuck that. If we're paying for it and no one's listening to these records anyway, if we're only making them for ourselves, then I'm going to put exactly what I want on them."[20]

Kevin Fennell similarly said, "When Bee Thousand came out we sounded much less professional than we did in 1982. The music was much more spontaneous."[21] Pollard also said that, at the time, the band's recording style was intended to sound like Beatles bootlegs.[19] Furthermore, songs were usually completed in a minimum number of takes with no rehearsal beforehand.[22] In all, recording for the album was extremely brief, taking only three days,[23] with Pollard estimating that each song took roughly half an hour.[22]


The music of Bee Thousand is influenced by British Invasion rock music, as well as what Pollard calls the "four P's" of rock: pop, punk rock, progressive rock, and psychedelia.[24] Only a few new songs were written for the album, among them "I Am a Scientist" and "Gold Star for Robot Boy", with the rest of the album mostly being overdubbed, rerecorded, or edited versions of the band's older, unused material.

While typical rock instruments, such as guitar, bass, and drums, are dominant, a variety of instruments and sounds are used. Recorders are used in "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory", and a piano is used in the closing track "You're Not an Airplane".[25]


Pollard's surreal lyrical style has been compared to the cut-up technique of Beat writer William S. Burroughs.[26] Many of the album's lyrics reflect childish or fantastical themes and were heavily influenced by the statements and actions of Pollard's fourth grade class, exemplified by "Gold Star for Robot Boy". Pollard was inspired to write "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory" after having an LSD-triggered psychedelic experience in which he perceived his own face in a mirror changing into his son's face; however, the song's lyrics are not about this event.[19] According to Pollard, "I Am a Scientist" is "the first song that showed some maturity in my ability as a songwriter."[27] "Tractor Rape Chain"'s lyrics are taken from three other songs, plus a few new ones. Those three songs are "Still Worth Nothing", "Tractor Rape Chain (Clean It Up)", and "Tell Me".

Album Background[edit]

The title Bee Thousand was inspired by a group brainstorming session, during which band members smoked cannabis. Pollard's brother, Jim, thought of "zoo thousand", allegedly inspired by a mile marker reading "Z1000." This phrase coalesced with a misspelling of a movie title at a drive-in theater, with "Beethoven" spelled as "Beethouen", which Pollard liked because the misspelling sounded like the name of The Who guitarist Pete Townshend. Other considered titles included All That Glue and Instructions for the Rusty Time Machine, both of which were used in the lyrics of other Guided by Voices songs.[28]

The caped person on the front of the album is from an image in an article by National Geographic. The image was included in the article documenting the festival of mardi gras in Acadiana, Louisiana.[29]


In July 2014, Guitar World ranked Bee Thousand at number 6 in their "Superunknown: 50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1994" list.[30]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks were written by Robert Pollard, except where noted.

Original release[edit]

Side one
1."Hardcore UFO's" 1:54
2."Buzzards and Dreadful Crows"Jim Pollard, R. Pollard1:43
3."Tractor Rape Chain" 3:04
4."The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory" 1:45
5."Hot Freaks"R. Pollard, Tobin Sprout1:42
6."Smothered in Hugs"Mitch Mitchell, J. Pollard, R. Pollard2:59
7."Yours to Keep" 1:15
8."Echos Myron" 2:42
Side two
1."Gold Star for Robot Boy" 1:39
2."Awful Bliss"Sprout1:12
3."Mincer Ray"Sprout2:21
4."A Big Fan of the Pigpen"J. Pollard, R. Pollard, Randy Campbell2:09
5."Queen of Cans and Jars" 1:55
6."Her Psychology Today"Guided by Voices2:04
7."Kicker of Elves" 1:04
8."Ester's Day"Sprout1:51
9."Demons Are Real"Guided by Voices0:48
10."I Am a Scientist" 2:30
11."Peep-Hole" 1:25
12."You're Not an Airplane"Sprout0:33

The Director's Cut[edit]

Side one

  1. "Demons Are Real" (Mitchell, J. Pollard, R. Pollard, Sprout) – 0:49
  2. "Deathtrot and Warlock Riding a Rooster" (Mitchell, R. Pollard) – 1:12
  3. "Postal Blowfish" (Mitchell, R. Pollard) – 2:09
  4. "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory" – 1:45
  5. "At Odds with Dr. Genesis" – 1:25
  6. "Hot Freaks" (R. Pollard, Sprout) – 1:44
  7. "Queen of Cans and Jars" – 1:56
  8. "Bite" (Mitchell, J. Pollard, R. Pollard) – 1:04
  9. "It's Like Soul Man" (4-track version) (Sprout) – 0:49

Side two

  1. "Supermarket the Moon" – 2:13
  2. "Stabbing a Star" – 1:46
  3. "Esther's Day" (Sprout) – 1:33
  4. "Her Psychology Today" (Mitchell, J. Pollard, R. Pollard, Sprout) – 2:05
  5. "Good for a Few Laughs" (R. Pollard, Sprout) – 2:15
  6. "Smothered in Hugs" (Mitchell, J. Pollard, R. Pollard) – 3:03
  7. "What Are We Coming Up To?" – 1:57
  8. "Peep-Hole" – 1:30

Side three

  1. "Revolution Boy" – 3:03
  2. "Indian Was an Angel" – 2:07
  3. "Zoning the Planet" – 2:25
  4. "Scissors" (Sprout) – 1:48
  5. "Crayola" – 1:17
  6. "Kicker of Elves" – 1:15
  7. "2nd Moves to Twin" (Mitchell, J. Pollard, R. Pollard) – 2:46
  8. "I'll Buy You a Bird" – 1:47

Side four

  1. "Awful Bliss" (Sprout) – 1:13
  2. "Echos Myron" – 2:19
  3. "Why Did You Land?" (4-track version) – 2:45
  4. "You're Not an Airplane" (Sprout) – 0:34
  5. "Crunch Pillow" (Sprout) – 2:46
  6. "Rainbow Billy" – 1:39
  7. "Tractor Rape Chain" – 2:47
  8. "Crocker's Favorite Song" – 2:16

Side five

  1. "I Am a Scientist" – 2:30
  2. "Buzzards and Dreadful Crows" (J. Pollard, R. Pollard) – 1:43
  3. "A Big Fan of The Pigpen" (Campbell, J. Pollard, R. Pollard) – 2:09
  4. "Mincer Ray" (Sprout) – 2:21
  5. "Way to a Man's Heart" (Unknown) – 1:52
  6. "Twig" (Unknown) – 2:15
  7. "Gold Star for Robot Boy" – 1:39
  8. "Hardcore UFOs" – 1:54
  9. "Yours to Keep" – 1:15
  10. "Shocker in Gloomtown" – 1:05
  11. "Break Even" – 1:40

Side six

  1. "I'll Get Over It" (J. Pollard, R. Pollard, Sprout) – 0:39
  2. "Shocker in Gloomtown" – 1:25
  3. "Alien Lanes" (J. Pollard, R. Pollard, Sprout) – 2:32
  4. "Off the Floor" (Sprout) – 0:53
  5. "Break Even" – 2:28
  6. "Bee Thousand" – 1:30
  7. "I Am a Scientist" – 2:31
  8. "Curse of the Black Ass Buffalo" – 1:20
  9. "Do the Earth" – 2:42
  10. "Planet's Own Brand" – 1:15
  11. "My Valuable Hunting Knife" – 2:08


Guided by Voices


Accolades for Bee Thousand[31]
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Spin United States Best Albums of 1994[32] 1994 10
The Village Voice United States Album of the Year – Critics Pick[33] 1994 8
Alternative Press United States The 90 Greatest Albums of the '90s[34] 1998 63
Pitchfork Media United States Top 100 Albums of the 1990s[35] 2003 10
Spin United States Top 100 Albums of the Last 20 Years[36] 2005 37 United States The 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums of All Time[37] 2009 1
Mojo United Kingdom The 100 Greatest Albums of Our Lifetime 1993–2006[38] 2006 80
Rolling Stone United States The 100 Best Albums of the Nineties[39] 1999 79


  • Greer, James (2005). Guided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock. (New York) Black Cat/Grove. ISBN 0-8021-7013-7.
  • Woodworth, Marc (2006). Bee Thousand 33⅓. (New York) Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-1748-5.
  • Warren, Jeff. Guided By Voices Database. Guided by Voices Database. Retrieved on 22 August 2007.


  1. ^ Crockford, C.M. "Guided by Voices – Bee Thousand". Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Guided By Voices – Bee Thousand LP – Stranded Records". Archived from the original on 15 April 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  3. ^ a b Grimstad, Paul. "What is Avant-Pop?". Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  4. ^ Deming, Mark. "Bee Thousand – Guided by Voices". AllMusic. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  5. ^ Kot, Greg (July 15, 1994). "Selling 'Alternative, Inc.'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  6. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  7. ^ Frost, Deborah (June 3, 1994). "Bee Thousand". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  8. ^ "Guided by Voices: Bee Thousand". Mojo: 118.
  9. ^ "Guided by Voices: Bee Thousand". NME: 46. August 13, 1994.
  10. ^ Azerrad, Michael (August 11, 1994). "Bee Thousand". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  11. ^ Randall, Mac (2004). "Guided by Voices". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 349–50. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  12. ^ Milner, Greg (November 2006). "Discography: Robert Pollard". Spin. 22 (11): 78. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  13. ^ Christgau, Robert (November 29, 1994). "Turkey Shoot". The Village Voice. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  14. ^ Carr, Eric (December 6, 2004). "Guided By Voices: Bee Thousand: The Director's Cut". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  15. ^ Ramsay, J.T. (November 5, 2004). "Guided by Voices – Bee Thousand: The Director's Cut". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on September 24, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  16. ^ a b Woodworth (2006). p. 23–25
  17. ^ Woodworth (2006). p. 13
  18. ^ Miller, Nick. "Unpeeled Interview with Robert Pollard 2004". Archived from the original on 2007-08-06. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  19. ^ a b c Woodworth, 2006. p. 28
  20. ^ Woodworth (2006). p. 17–18
  21. ^ Woodworth (2006). p. 73
  22. ^ a b Woodworth, 2006. p. 21
  23. ^ Woodworth (2006). p. 77
  24. ^ Harrington, Richard (2004-09-10). "Guided by His Own Voice". Retrieved 2007-07-18.
  25. ^ "You're Not An Airplane". Retrieved 2007-07-19.
  26. ^ Ellis, Iain (2004-09-15). "G.B.V – R.I.P: For the Love of Rock". Retrieved 2007-07-18.
  27. ^ Woodworth (2006). p. 16
  28. ^ "Recycled!: Re-used Lyrics, Titles, Music & Images". Archived from the original on 14 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
  29. ^ "Image". Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  30. ^ "Superunknown: 50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1994". July 14, 2014. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  31. ^ "Bee Thousand". Archived from the original on 23 May 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-07.
  32. ^ "Spin End of year lists: Best of 1994". Archived from the original on 25 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-07.
  33. ^ "The Village Voice Pazz & Jop Music Poll: Search Results". Acclaimed Music Forum. Archived from the original on 2008-01-12. Retrieved 2007-07-07.
  34. ^ "The 90 Greatest Albums of the '90s". Retrieved 2007-07-07.
  35. ^ "Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". 2003-11-17. Archived from the original on 22 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-07.
  36. ^ "New SPIN list: Top 100 Albums of the Last 20 Years". Forum. Retrieved 2007-07-07.
  37. ^ "The 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums of All Time". Retrieved 2011-07-23.
  38. ^ "MOJO: The 100 Greatest Albums of Our Lifetime". Forum. Retrieved 2007-07-07.
  39. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Nineties: Guided by Voices, 'Bee Thousand'". Retrieved 2012-06-05.

External links[edit]