I’m going to get right to the point,
Guided By Voices’ 26th and latest album,
“Zeppelin over China” is excellent.
And perhaps their greatest album.
It seems Bob has stopped all side projects since the formation
of the latest line-up of Guided By Voices, which features Doug Gillard,
Bobby Bare Jr., Mark Shue and Kevin March
Before this version of GBV got together and after
the end of the “Classic Line-up” reunion in 2014,
Robert Pollard recorded some of his greatest side projects,
Ricked Wicky, ESP Ohio, Circus Devils and of course his solo recordings.
And I did mourn the passing of these bands and the loss of future releases.
But we must always remember, “In Bob We Trust.”
“Zeppelin over China” sounds like everything Bob has done, in places.
Some tracks like “We Can Make Music” and “No Point” could be Boston Spaceships.
“Think. Be a Man.” and “Good Morning Sir” could be by ESP Ohio.
“Blurring the Contacts” and “Lurk of the Worm” could very well be unreleased
Circus Devils tracks.
This is what makes this album great,
there is basically something for every fan of the band and Bob’s side projects.
And if you have been following along with everything Bob’s done,
you’re really going to love this album.
On “Zeppelin over China” The Four “P’s” Pop, Prog, Psych and Punk,
are fully present.
The thirty-two track double album starts with the power pop goodness
of “Good Morning Sir” which jumps the album into gear.
It would be a great song to open live shows with.
Love the chunky crunchy sound of “Step of the Wave” and “Carapace”
The chunka-chanka-chanka sounding guitar on “Carapace”
reminds me of what Gang of Four did on “He’ll Send in the Army”.
always dug that sound!
“Send in the Suicide Squad” and “Your Lights Are Out” would fit perfectly on a Pollard solo album,
but is right a home here.
The jangly pop/rock is a great contrast to the albums heavier moments,
“Holy Rhythm” with its heavy rhythm guitars, pounding drums and Pollards voice
sounding like he’s singing from the top of the Himalayas.
Sounds Psych to me. Love it!
“Jack Tell” is a mini-masterpiece with its acoustic middle section and what sounds like Mellotron,
sounds a lot like what Bob did with Ricked Wicky; borders on Prog.
“Bellicose Starling” is a brilliant acoustic song that builds to a beautiful end.
Could also be a Ricked Wicky out-take.
Because of its chorus I thought “Charmless Peters” was titled “Smoke Them If You Have Them.”
Very cool song; would be a great live number.
Same with “The Rally Boys” with its strings and 80’s like chorus.
Love “Jam Warsong“ with its backwards opening sounds,
choppy rhythm and chaotic guitar towards the end.
“You Own the Night” was released as a single July of last year.
As an experiment, even though I bought the single and downloaded it,
I didn’t listen to it.
I wanted to hear the song first as an album track, especially knowing I’d be reviewing the album.
Great song with a catchy chorus, but a weird choice for a single
with its proggy acoustic middle section with stings.
The line-up featuring Doug Gillard, Bobby Bare Jr., Mark Shue, Kevin March
and of course Robert Pollard are in their usual top form.
Travis Harrison is credited as producer and does an excellent job making a
Guided By Voices album that sounds like Guided By Voices.
I really have to give props to Doug Gillard who did the string and horn arraignments,
along with his excellent guitar playing; he has really become Bob’s Mick Ronson.
“Zeppelin over China” is a Great album,
it’s like where everything Bob has done comes together
without sounding like he’s done it before.
If I were to give someone who has never heard of Guided By Voices
or Robert Pollard, an album that I thought would sum up Bob and GBV,
“Zeppelin over China” would be it.
To those out there who think I cut this review short.
You should have seen how much I cut, about three-quarters,
if not more.
Which is why this review is late.
It just went on and on….
From the moment I heard this album I was writing notes,
then it got to be overwhelming.
Almost like making a movie and you have to edit it together
from a bunch of stuff in no certain order.
So to get it done, I basically started over,
just using bits of what I wrote before.
Just letting everyone in on my process.