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November/December 2003

Guided By Voices
Human Amusements at Hourly Rates
Matador Records

Considering the girth of its catalog, GBV is one band that actually warrants a best-of. A recent telephone survey revealed that the average MAGNET reader owns Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes and one other Robert Pollard-related record (take your pick from the dozens of titles). What the 32-track Human Amusements easily proves is that only a fraction of GBV's best songs happened during its revered '94 - '96 era. So you're missing quite a bit if you slept on recent fist-pumping rockers such as "Everywhere With Helicopter" and "Glad Girls"; likewise, early favorites "Exit Flagger" and "Captain's Dead" are lo-fi classics. Plus, "Motor Away" and "Game Of Pricks" get spruced up from their album versions, appearing here in glossy, higher-fi glory. Diehards already saving up for the concurrent six-CD/DVD box set Hardcore UFOs (which includes a slightly different version of Human Amusements) should back away slowly. For neophytes, this comp is a handy guide to the 32 songs Pollard and Co. will play during their six encores at the next GBV concert.