`Bee Thousand' is one of the great "what if..." stories of underground rock music. Due to the band having barely any success whatsoever, `Bee Thousand' was intended to be Guided By Voices' last ever album. At the time, Robert Pollard, one of the greatest songwriters of his generation, was still a school-teacher and decided that since they had been spending money on recording and no one was listening to GBV's music, they would just record on cheap retail equipment. Fortunately, Guided By Voices did not break-up, Robert Pollard left his job as a Primary school teacher and they became cult heroes. The album is hard to get into since the recording quality is pretty poor, but the songs themselves are absolutely incredible: `Tractor Rape Chain', `Smothered In Hugs', `Echoes Myron', `Gold Star For Robot Boy', `I Am A Scientist'; basically every song on the album sounds like a lost relic from the greatest band that never was. With far-reaching influences, short running times, cryptic lyrics and a severe and unquenchable fervor and enthusiasm burning behind every track, `Bee Thousand' is a phenomenal record. Guided By Voices, at this point, weren't even a proper band; it was made up of a group of friends and those who were available at short notice would play the instruments. Each song took around 30 minutes each to finish recording (the longest song on the album is just 3 minutes). You can sort of tell that this was their one last go, the whole record (especially the last three tracks) has a hint of an elegy about it, as if they would inject all their remaining doomed hopes and dreams into this last curtain call to an audience who no longer cares. Instead of being an elegy, `Bee Thousand' was just the beginning of many more years of brilliant music.
Recorded in 3 days on lo-lo-lo-fi equipment, `Bee Thousand' was always destined to be a commercial bombshell; condemned to never rise above the status of cult favourite. These songs however are just so perfect, studio recording seems like an un-necessary luxury. Despite other great albums afterwards, this record is always referred to as Guided By Voices' best album. Lo-fi and sketchy it may be and it may take a few listens to get into, but this is one of the best records of the 90's. What if `Bee Thousand' was never made? GBV would have disbanded and Robert Pollard would have stayed a teacher. Perish the thought. In the mean time, full marks, A+, gold star, 10/10, etc.