The Howling Wolf Orchestra is a one-off side project.
Featuring our hero, Robert Pollard, his brother Jim Pollard and
from the then current Guided By Voices line-up, Nate Farley.
All three play guitar, piano and drums, with Nat and Jim on bass.
Special appearance by Greg Demos on lead guitar on one track.
I have never read or heard anything about this album or the making of it,
or where it was recorded.
But my bet is that it was recorded within a day or two.
It could have gone this way,
“Hey Nate, my brothers coming over, come over to the Snake Pit,
bring a case of Rolling Rock and we’ll record and see what happens.”
That kind of sums up this record.
And that must have been very freeing to Robert Pollard at the time.
In 2001 Guided By Voices were going for the big league
with (what I guess was) a major label, TVT Records.
Big Productions and being encouraged to make “Hit” records.
Pollards personal life was also going through a major change.
This would be the point of one’s career when some,
would go off the deep end.
But Pollard seems to keep his nose to the grindstone,
recording albums with the band, touring and recording side projects like this.
The first song, “You Learn Something Old Everyday” is reminiscent of
the opening of “The Future Is In Eggs”.
It seems like it’s building up to something, but never does.
At first it seems like “I.B.C.” is going to go somewhere, then it’s over,
but not before falling apart half way through.
“I’m Dirty” was played during Guided By Voices’ 2001 Isolation Drills Tour.
Cool song, but like the rest of this record, doesn’t go far before it’s over.
Almost half of the song is the fade out.
Yes I’m quite aware that some of Guided By Voices best songs are under a minute,
unlike the songs on this record, they are better crafted and rehearsed.
Not to say that it’s all together bad;
though those GBV fans that jumped aboard with “Do The Collapse”
and “Isolation Drills”, waiting for another “Glad Girls” or “Hold On Hope”,
may have a different opinion.
“It’s A Bad Ticket” and “Satyr At Styx & Rubicon”, foresee what Bob would do with Circus Devils.
Actually “Speed Traps For The Bee Kingdom” is probably the weirdest record Bob
has made till he started Circus Devils with the Tobias Brothers,
soon after this album.
“Is It Mostly? (It Is Mostly)” is a drum and piano instrumental, very random.
“Where Is Out There?” another very Circus Devils sounding track.
The last track features Greg Demos on lead guitar.
Ever go into a guitar shop?
There is usually a guy jamming away on guitar,
that sums up this song.
After saying that I must add that I like the song.
The whole record is fourteen minutes long,
which might be long enough.
To sum up,
Someday everything that Bob had ever recorded would be studied
and analyzed like the Dead Sea Scrolls.
“Speed Traps For The Bee Kingdom” will be seen as a prelim to his
work with Circus Devils.
Die hard Pollard fans will enjoy “Speed Traps For The Bee Kingdom”,
while some might be left scratching their collective heads.
I have it on compact disc and vinyl.
I guess that shows where I stand