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Music Video Distributors presents
Guided by Voices: The Who Went Home and Cried (2001)

"I feel life passing on by us/passing on by us/passing on by us!"
- Bob Pollard (singing)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: April 04, 2002

Stars: Robert Pollard, Greg Demos
Other Stars: Doug Gillard, Nate Farley
Director: Unknown

Manufacturer: PDM
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (contains minor language and drunken behavior)
Run Time: 00h:36m:44s
Release Date: November 20, 2001
UPC: 022891432890
Genre: rock

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

First of all, I would like to begin this review by saying that I'm a big fan of Guided by Voices. Singer Bob Pollard has been crafting original, rockin' pop tracks for many years, and the band delivers a great live show. I own their last eight full-length albums, and have purchased other singles and solo releases by Pollard. Unfortunately, this DVD release is a waste of both time and energy and conveys little of the allure of Guided by Voices. Instead, this brief film provides numerous shots of them drinking and being silly with local buddies in Ohio. The guys do play stripped-down versions of a few great tracks, but they lack their usual energy when performing from Pollard's front porch.

For those of you unfamilar with Guided by Voices, here is a very brief summary of their career. Schoolteacher Pollard formed the band in Dayton, Ohio during the early 1980s and has been the foundation throughout its history. Numerous guitarists, bass players, and drummers have joined and left the band throughout the years, including the talented singer Tobin Sprout and crazy Mitch Mitchell. After a string of impressive lo-fi releases, the group gained a measure of recognition upon the release of Bee Thousand in 1994. This album marked a new high point in both songwriting and music, and they started touring nationally after this release. With each successive record, Guided by Voices has continued to modify its sound while Pollard creates new, interesting pop hooks. Their most recent full-length album—2001s' Isolation Drills—is their most straightforward rock record and stands as possibly their most accomplished release. In recent years, Pollard has also created a series of original solo records that stand well on their own. The band's current lineup includes him, guitarists Doug Gillard and Nate Farley, bassist Tim Tobias, and drummer Kevin March.

Taped several years ago, Guided by Voices: The Who Went Home and Cried is an amateurish video of the band practicing before an outdoor show that night in Ohio. Pollard, Farley, then-bassist Greg Demos, and former drummer Jon McCann run through a diverse collection of favorites and lesser-known tracks on his front porch. Meanwhile, silly local men wander around randomly and provide some groan-inducing comic relief. In particular, an odd fellow in sunglasses spends considerable time on camera and even takes the time to sing badly with the band. The songs practiced include: Submarine Teams, The Big Makeover, Big School, Cut-Out Witch, Tractor Rape Chain, Strumpet Eye, Psychic Pilot Clocks Out, Far Out Crops, and Strictly Comedy.

Pollard's energetic personality appears to be an ideal subject for a documentary. He's always spouting out oddball lines on stage and having a fun time. Plus, anyone who's capable of writing clever songs with titles like Deathtrot, Warlock Riding a Rooster and The Frequent Weaver Who Burns can't be too dull. However, this movie fails to capture much of what makes him an interesting figure. Instead, we only see him playing guitar (a rarity) and singing in a very quiet voice. In fact, one of his longer statements occurs when he yells out: "Hey Hooter, you've gotta go pick up Weave at his mom's house!". Greg Demos is also an odd fellow, sporting bright white pants with black stripes. This day marks his final performance with Guided by Voices, and it seems fitting to hear his thoughts on the matter. In its place, we get to watch him wash his hair in the sink and stumble around drunk after the concert. While mildly entertaining in a strange way, these moments do not offer anything too substantive about these musicians.

Certain fans will probably enjoy the relaxed, low-budget approach of this film. There is something slightly alluring about seeing the band away from the stage and in their element at home. However, everything is thrown together and shot so poorly that it's difficult to get much out of this release. Cuts are sharp and awkward, and there is no editing scheme of any kind evident. Every once in a while, song titles like My Son Cool and Wished I Was a Giant are placed on the screen over certain characters, but this is little more than a silly gimmick. Since the songs are the only real attraction here, I would rather see a film of an entire GBV concert than this dull picture. Sometimes, it might be better not to see what rock bands are like away from the spotlight. These guys seem very down-to-earth, but the overall result is a surprisingly dull release.

Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This full-frame transfer offers little visually and ranks among the levels of bad home-video footage. There are no digital enhancements of any kind, and the images are often out-of-focus and grainy. Plus, a strange line cuts across the screen and actually splits people's bodies into two noticeable sections. While this is good for some comic relief, it does not say much for the quality of this DVD. I did not imagine a top-notch transfer from this release, but it still falls well short of my lowest expectations.

Image Transfer Grade: D


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The prime highlight of DVD concerts is usually the ultra-clear sound that helps to create the "you are there" feeling. Sadly, this disc isn't even within the same ballpark as your average concert title. The sound levels vary throughout the film, and much of the audio is unclear and distorted. Wind makes loud noises over the music, and the dialogue is sometimes quiet and incoherent. Once again, this helps to create the intended home-video feel, but it also lessens the impact of some great tunes.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Music/Song Access with 19 cues and remote access
Packaging: Scanavo
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Bonus concert footage from the Whiskey in Los Angeles
Extras Review: The portion of this disc that excited me the most before viewing it was the inclusion of 21 minutes of bonus concert footage. The tracks come from a show at the Whiskey in Los Angeles that has little of their usual life. The crowd is hardly moving, and the guys (especially Greg Demos) are obviously very sloppy and drunk. Pollard misses some words, and the sound quality is extremely poor. The songs included are: Hot Freaks, Tractor Rape Chain, Shocker in Gloomtown, I Am a Scientist, Echos Myron, Liar's Tale, Motor Away, Peephole, and Smothered in Hugs.

This is a pretty nice collection of tracks with six entries from Bee Thousand and a few other gems. It's especially good to see the inclusion of Liar's Tale, a pop ballad that originally appeared on Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia in 1989. Sadly, this extra material is a big disappointment. The strange line once again appears on the screen, and the muffled sound is worse than many VHS concerts. Plus, they just aren't very tight and don't sound that good. This concert is not a proper introduction to Gudied by Voices.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

If you're a fan of rock and roll, you should check out Guided by Voices' albums and definitely see them at a club near you. Unless you're an OBSESSED fan, though, don't bother with this DVD release. It contains a few entertaining moments, but it ranks well below simply listening to their music or seeing them live.


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