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Vampire on Titus Original recording reissued

4.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, November 5, 1996
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 5, 1996)
  • Original Release Date: November 5, 1997
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued
  • Label: Scat Records
  • ASIN: B00000236J
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,814 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
There's a lot to be said about this album. Generally the first impression is that it contains underdeveloped, terribly-produced tracks that pale in comparison stuff off of Bee Thousand, Propeller, Alien Lanes, etc. I suppose there is some truth to that - even as an adamant lover of this album, I admit that I'd rather listen to "Smothered In Hugs" or "Tractor Rape Chain" than the best this album has to offer. And there's no getting around that hilarious metallic reverb that permeates on the vocals on several of the songs or the straight strangeness of things like "Superior Sector Janitor X" and "E-5".

So then, what's so appealing about this album anyway? The first thing is that it's much darker and grittier than anything else in the GBV catalog, and contains some of the best heavy songs by GBV like "Dusted", "Unstable Journey", "Perhaps Now the Vultures", and "Expecting Brainchild" (probably the catchiest of the bunch, and has a hilarious intro). The second is how brilliant the album can be, when it wants to - like the strangely epic "Marchers In Orange" or "Wondering Boy Poet", two of the best songs in the GBV catalogue, and neither is longer than 90 seconds.

The main appeal, though, is the same appeal of Bee Thousand/Alien Lanes era GBV. The songs work so well in fragments, because they isolate the most spontaneous, inspired moments of a song and then jump on to the next one. And even with the less inspired bits, they're generally so short that they become interesting and don't outstay their welcome. But unlike BT/AL, Vampire on Titus has a much more disturbed and outright weird sound than anything else by GBV.
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Format: Audio CD
On Guided by Voices' "Propeller" album, Robert Pollard sang, "we conjure ghosts." On "Vampire on Titus" he actually does. Melodies materialize out of ominous white noise, shamble about for a few seconds, then dissipate again. "Vampire"'s structure is similar to "Bee Thousand" and "Alien Lanes," but it is weirder, darker, and less accessible. That is its strength though; as another reviewer said, even after hundreds of listens, this album still has the power to surprise, perplex, and disturb.

The other GBV albums mentioned above are better starting points for the band's lo-fi era, but you may find yourself, as I have, coming back to the shadowy "Vampire on Titus" most often.

To Bob (and Tobin) be the glory.
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Format: Audio CD
Looking at the history of Guided by Voices, Vampire on Titus was the first in a string of four albums to really capture the sound that the GBV purist has been after ever since. Most of us outside the Dayton, Ohio rock scene didn't discover the band until 1993's Bee Thousand, an album which was an incredible blend of uplifting songs that were instantly catchy but fleetingly brief. Vampire on Titus is a much darker album than the three that would follow (Propeller, Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes) and it's brilliance is often overlooked. I consider it to be much like the Stones' Beggars Banquet, an album that was the start of a string of albums that captured a sound that marked the band's high point. Although Beggars Banquet is considered by some to be the Stones finest, the same cannot be said of GBV's Vampire on Titus. I would never recommend a newcomer begin with Vampire on Titus, but instead listen to it after digesting Propeller, Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes. There are some gems here, to be sure!!
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Format: Audio CD
Vampire on Titus marks Robert Pollard's (and Guided by Voices') big jump from local heros to college cult band. Paving the way for the superior Bee Thousand the next year, Vampire still has much to recommend it.
"Wished I Was A Giant" sounds like it was recorded in a bathroom on a wire mike, but still wins you over. It also sets you up for the strange sounds ahead: "No. 2 In the Model Home Series" is a creepy thing about automated spouses and sons with guns and it just keeps going... "Unstable Journey" has a killer riff... "Perhaps Now the Vultures" is all out brashness and "Non-Absorbing" remains the penultimate ending track... just one of their best overall songs.
If you're new to the band, start with Mag Earwhig! or Bee Thousand... depending on how DIY you like it. But don't avoid Vampire, especially if you're a fan. It has some slow moments, some throw aways and a lot to be desired in sound quality, but it's a winner all the same.
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Format: Audio CD
Another massively overrated release in the GBV catalogue here on Amazon. It's tiring to hear how this is a difficult listen, how it reveals itself over time to be a masterpiece. No, it's just super shoddy recording and mediocre songs with a few gems. Sometimes it's as simple as that. There is no secret to this band. Every recording is not perfect.

GBV is not at the top of their game by any measure here. I prefer older recordings like Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia by a HUGE margin. That record is their best early record and one of their actual best records. This one is parochial nonsense. There are few hooks or melodies on this to get excited about, and the experimentation seems to rarely pay off.

This is nothing more than demo-quality sketches and snippets tagged together to make another album. There is no cohesion but for awful sound quality, especially in the vocals. Everything here is a couple tiers more rough and reckless than anything after it. Some of the songs do indeed have a quality about them, and if you are into more experimental sketches the album has a bit to offer you.

A few gems like Jar of Cardinals are scattered throughout, but it's mostly stuff you should probably get elsewhere unless you are a completionist. The jump in actual song and sound quality for lo-fi music from this to Bee Thousand is basically ridiculous. The jump in SQ going BACK to a couple of the previous records is also notable.
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