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Bee Thousand (33⅓ #38)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  271 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Marc Woodworth's book covers the album's long and unorthodox period of writing, recording, sequencing, and editing. It includes interviews with members of the band, manager Pete Jamison, web-master and GBV historian Rich Turiel and Robert Griffin of Scat Records. At least sixty-five songs were recorded and considered for the album and five distinct concepts were rejected b ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 2nd 2006 by Continuum International Publishing Group (first published September 15th 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 473)
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Krok Zero
Sep 13, 2010 Krok Zero rated it really liked it
Shelves: fall-2010
Bee Thousand is the greatest album of all fucking time. I was introduced to it in high school by a more musically savvy friend, and it took me a while to understand it; on first listen I only really liked "I Am A Scientist," then set it aside for a while, then randomly came back to it and was blown away. I never stopped being blown away; nearly a decade after first hearing it, the album still sounds fresh and surprising to me. GBV frontman Bob Pollard wrote the sweetest melodies since the heyday ...more
Apr 14, 2008 Josh rated it it was amazing
Woodworth's collage/snippet-style structure perfectly suits a book about Bee Thousand and the fans that would want to read said book. There's a little bit of everything - a peep-hole into songwriting and recording details, creamy insights by Woodworth who clearly gets what Bee Thousand is all about, thoughts from random fans, interviews from all the major players (including Uncle Bob himself), word games incorporating lyrics from the album, and more all in digestible portions not unlike the gems ...more
Andrew Kleimola
Dec 20, 2013 Andrew Kleimola rated it it was ok
Bee Thousand reads like an academic essay. Although chock-full of anecdotes surrounding the making of the album, those anecdotes are asphyxiated by the heady analytical discourse, particularly the lyrical dissection. The 4 page description of Pollard's leg-kick during a live performance is the best example of unnecessary analysis. After Pollard's first-person account, the rest of the book is kind of lackluster. I am glad this book exists if only because reading it caused me to re-discover the ge ...more
Apr 27, 2010 Frank rated it liked it
When the guy actually talks to people in the band, this book is really insightful. When he's writing album reviews while pretending to be some grad student who jumped off a roof or writing some dumb poetry, I had to skim. So once I got into the actual meat of this book, I think I read it in 30 minutes. Still, if you like GBV, I'd highly recommend it. I wish these 33 1/3 writers would quit trying to write themselves into an album's mythology though.
Jack Wolfe
Apr 24, 2013 Jack Wolfe rated it liked it
The pieces that Woodworth himself wrote are extremely hit-and-miss-- many seem far too pretentious for this wonderful, humble little record-- but he's done a great job collecting revealing interviews and some priceless fan reactions. The book ends up reading a bit like a text version of a classic Guided by Voices record: it's fragmented, inconsistent, but frequently touching and usually pretty fun.
Jul 29, 2009 Nathan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All the new school lo-fi kids
Shelves: 33-1-3-series
This book reads exactly like a Guided by Voices album. Some parts are glorious, and some parts you grow to love in time, and some parts, you might just discard. But still, like the album, it's worthy of a read.
Jul 19, 2016 Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's always a danger when it comes to reading anything remotely critical, especially when it's regarding one of your favourite albums or films. It's very easy to label a book or article as utter bilge if it acts against your sense of confirmation bias. Luckily, I'm a fairly rational person (if I do say so myself) and this book was not only fair in it's discussion, but helped shine new light on an album steeped in mystery. Achieving a cult status amongst lo-fi connoisseurs, Bee Thousand is the ...more
Jun 20, 2011 Macallan rated it really liked it
This is the first book I've read in the 33 1/3 series, and it's mostly what I wanted from a 150 page exposition on the essential Guided by Voices record, Bee Thousand. I like how Woodworth gives just enough history of the band without making this a biography, and just enough praise to not sound totally fanboy. The criticism from Woodworth is a singular interpretation rather than a series of responses to how Bee Thousand has been received by other critics or a history of its critical reception.

Patrick McCoy
Sep 24, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
Bee Thousand by Marc Woodworth is yet another informative and authoritative account of a seminal album from the Continuum landmark series 33 1/3. This book focuses on the inception and reception of Guided By Voices' break through and influential lo-fi album. I have to admit I came to this album much later than its release, however I do remember all the great press they got, which put them in the same league as Pavement (a band I was getting into at that time). So when I finally got around to get ...more
Feb 01, 2011 Scott rated it liked it
Here's what you need to know: the parts of this book that were (assumedly) written by the band members about their time in GBV and the recording of Bee Thousand are excellent and well worth reading. The listener narratives or listener impressions (I don't have the book in front of me, so I can't remember exactly what they are called) provide interesting anecdotes. Pretty much everything else (and particularly the sections attempting discussion of the lyrics) is self-indulgent garbage.

Let's see..
Sep 19, 2007 Jon rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: when the music isn't enough
The 33 1/3 series is such a great idea and this is my favorite book in the series so far. This one was obviously made while in direct contact with Robert Pollard and the other band members of the "Bee Thousand" era (each one shares their take on the album through writing included in the book) and thus is much more vital than some other books in the series that were written based on research ("Highway 61 Revisited"). Also sprinkled throughou are fans personal stories about how the album affected ...more
Jun 06, 2007 Lindsay rated it really liked it
Man, this book was terrific. It's a sort of collage of all different writings about Bee Thousand: some from fans, some from friends of the band, some from the likes of Bob Pollard and Tobin Sprout. There's an author who writes parts in between to connect everything as well. I know far too much about Guided by Voices for my own good (mostly from reading James Greer's book about the band and also obsessively trying to track down everything they've ever recorded), but I learned quite a bit from thi ...more
Jun 19, 2016 Dave rated it really liked it
The legend circa summer 2016 is that Bob recorded all this music by his lonesome, in his basement...and the other guys were just drunks and hanger-on's, guys that just filled in the gap. But this book is important, as it shows how B100 was crafted, details how the songs reworked and re crafted into what they became. Write and record a 100 songs, pick the best 20, and make a cohesive landmark record. It's a formula I wish Pollard would return to. But I've been waiting years...
Jul 19, 2014 Jeremy rated it liked it
Shelves: about-music
Another enjoyable entry in the 33 1/3 series. Woodworth combines extended interviews with each band member along with his own musings about GBV, their working methods, their lyrics (just what exactly is a tractor rape chain?) and broader musings about the insular joys of making music and art in your friends' basements that you love, but which in most cases (though not GBV's), will never get heard. Woodworth's love for Bee Thousand is palpable through out, and while I'm not sure I buy his interpr ...more
Dec 20, 2007 Illiterati rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of GBV! GBV!
I love Guided By Voices. There, I said it. If you always thought that Uncle Bobby was a bit of an arrogant blow hard the book will reveal the process in creating the band and the album Bee Thousand and how Robert Pollard was actually very self conscious and nervous about the band in the early days. It covers the gambit of fan reactions to the album, how the songs were created (the gibberish titles were inspired by the fanciful ideas of children who Uncle Bobby herded as a 4th grade teacher) and ...more
Feb 15, 2015 Austin rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Even as a huge fan of the album the book is based on, I didn't really enjoy this book. I was turned off by the pretentious "but what do the concepts of art and music MEAN" sections of the book—okay dude, this isn't the right venue for (unnecessary) academic acrobatics, it's a rock history account. The only worthwhile portions were the anecdotes from the band and random listeners. All style, no substance.
Apr 03, 2012 Aaron rated it liked it
I've completely slacked on my intake of Guided by Voices records, but even though I've never listened to Bee Thousand all the way through, this is one of the better entries in the 33 1/3 series. Here, the author's voice is not the only one heard, as there are contributions from many, including members of the band themselves. Aside from beating the way the album was recorded to death, it was interesting to read about Robert Pollard's collage art (which is a nice parallel to the way he composes hi ...more
Jonathan Bloom
Jan 12, 2015 Jonathan Bloom rated it it was amazing
A fantastic read. Written and edited in a style not unlike the album it discusses. The author communicates the urgency and innovation behind the music.
May 06, 2009 Arod rated it liked it
This book is a mixture of a) the insightful and interesting reflections of those who created and assisted with Bee Thousand, b) well-written and relatable musings from hardcore fans about how they discovered the album and what it means to them, and c) the bloated, pretentious verse of what manifests in my head as Cheers' Diane Chambers rattling off Greil Marc-esque collegiate diatribes about a soulful beer-drinking anthemic record.

For the big fans, the book is fully worth it for points a & (
Feb 01, 2008 Jeff rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Elves, Pigpens Myrons, Hot Freaks, Robot Boy, Ester and Demons
Recommended to Jeff by: GBV fans
Not a fan of this series but "Bee Thousand" needs to be written on. The highlights include extensive band interview on the making of, which reveal GBV the band, not GBV the Robert Pollard "Zuma" would have you believe. Best of all; Remember that dude who fell off the Effel tower as he tried to climb it listening to Sergeant Peppers? Turns out the guy was working on his doctorate with a thesis on GBV lyrics. Let my obituary say Death my RnR misadventure.
Aug 09, 2007 Judson rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who've obsessed about GBV
This author understands that musical equipment in ill repair, abject honesty, stupid jokes, lyrics inspired by grade-schoolers, and incomprehensible magic words are what make this album great. Much is written within by Robert Pollard himself, who proclaims himself not only a songwriting machine riddled with malfunction but also a man who trusts happy accident as though it was gravity itself.
Nov 17, 2012 Eric added it
I believe Frank said it best: "When the guy actually talks to people in the band, this book is really insightful. When he's writing album reviews while pretending to be some grad student who jumped off a roof or writing some dumb poetry, I had to skim."
Aug 30, 2009 Jason rated it liked it
The author sections are all fawning rot, but the book is worth it for the band narratives, especially Pollard's, whose philosophy of recording is one of the most interesting and creative things I've read in ages. I hope Pollard writes the entire book if they do one for Alien Lanes or Propeller.
Aug 16, 2016 Robert rated it it was amazing
FINALLY! no one ever writes about Guided by Voices and Woodworth does so. If you never had an idea about this group, you'll be enriched after. Plus Bee Thousand is the band's career highpoint so there's a lot of great info about how it was recorded.
Louis Pz
Sep 10, 2007 Louis Pz rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Rock and Rollers
Shelves: favorites
A fitting tribute to one of my all time favorite albums. The chapter that compares Pollard to Emmerson is excellent, as is the one that debates at length the sincerity of his high kicks. Must read/listen to fans of rock and roll. Inspiring.
Jared Busch
Mar 23, 2007 Jared Busch rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any GBV fans
Everything that comes out of Bob Pollard's mouth is genius. Plus, there are pictures of the actual 4-track used to record Bee Thousand, and the Memory Man used for "Hot Freaks," in which you can see the settings they marked for it.
Jul 30, 2008 Oren rated it really liked it
The last album I couldn't stop playing. I've read the longer biography, but it was great to read about this album which hold such an important place when considering how I got to my current experience.
Sep 07, 2007 babrams rated it it was amazing
Shelves: haveread
Robert Pollard vs. Nas. Much like the Shark vs. Bear quandry, no one can really know who would emerge victorious in a fight between the two. My 2 Cents? Nas
David Crunelle
Jan 10, 2013 David Crunelle rated it really liked it
The author gave me a t-shirt in NY. Yeah.
.M. marked it as to-read
Sep 26, 2016
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