Wednesday, December 30, 2009
....First of all, I am sort of fanatical about bands that really catch my attention and I have a tendency to buy up everything that a band has put out if I really dig what they do. It is almost impossible for me to name a favorite band or favorite album of a band that I really like. I usually start collecting the earliest work first and go from there. Sometime in the late 80's a friends mother turned me on to the Jefferson Airplane via "The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane" and within a year or so I had collected every thing I could find of them, which now includes side projects and such. The same with the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, The Oblivians, and whatever, I could go on and on. But usually there comes a time when I hear a record that I have bought on "blind faith" that will stop this process. And I say to myself " I will have to hear the next one before I buy it". Meaning I have every Rolling Stones record up to "Dirty Work" and every Grateful Dead up to "Mars Hotel" and so on. More recently bands like The White Stripes have left me at Elephant and The Dirtbombs at "We Have You Surrounded" (I wish I hadn't even wasted money on that!). Alot of the bands that were so great and important to me from their output in the 60's and 70's didn't fare well in my opinion in the 80's. And some of them should probably have broke up before this time to save their image. So that being said The Flaming Lips have been together scince 1983. In my opinion they kind of started out bad. I didn't hear of the Flaming Lips until I was in high school in the early 90's. I believe the first time I heard them was probably on "120 minutes" which was a show on MTV back then that gave time to bands then called "alternative music" (for those who we're to young to have seen MTV back when they had music on it). This was around the time they put out "Transmissions From The Satelite Heart" which had their biggest hit "She Don't Use Jelly". I was drawn to them from then on. I have actually bought that record 3 times because of having loaned it out and never got it back or lost it. As for the albums they put out before it I don't have "Oh My Gawd..." The first album "Hear It Is" from 1986 I find hard to listen to. And "Telepathic Surgery" I have only listened to a few times. The first good record I would have to say is "In A Priest Driven Ambulance" which started there recordings with Dave Friedmann. Dave Friedmann who now runs his recording studio Tarbox in upstate New York and has alot to do with their sound. The Flaming Lips have continued to evolve and put out quality records ever since. With The loss of what I feel was a major part of the band Ronald the guitar player, their sound was altered a little. But the first record they put out without him was "Zaireeka" in 1997, a four disc set to be played all at the same time. A collossel album which featured bombastic production and showed a new direction for the group with Steven Drozd as the extremely talented multi-instrumentalist for the group. The next album was the beautiful "Soft Bulletin" of 1999, without a doubt one of the best albums of the 1990's. Anyway about "Embryonic" which this entry is supposed to be about. I stubbernlly waited for this to come out on LP as I did for "At War With The Mystics". First of all the record is their longest. Some music reviewers for some reason don't like long albums because they are sprawling, I have not read anything much about this album bad or otherwise yet, for no reason really, just haven't seeked out a review for this one. I happen to appreciate double albums just for them being long. Sometimes to me that signals that they had a lot of great ideas. I even appreciate Sleep's "Dopesmoker" for what it is, although I'll admit it's a little difficult to listen to. But without singling out individual tunes. I think the Flaming Lips have started a slightly new direction with this LP. First of all it is their "heaviest" record since "Clouds Taste Metallic" or "Zaireeka" but doesn't sound like either. The live drummer for the past few years Kliph Scurlock finally gets his recording debut with this. If anyone could replace Drozd as the drummer it's Kliph. And he shines like a bright star on this record! To make other comparisons to past albums, this record has the "overdriven" drum sound on "Zaireeka" and fuzz bass. With co-producer Dave Friedmann, this record as all of their records with him should be praised for the absolute superior soniclly beautiful Hi- Fidelity sound they achive. These guys are recording engineer scientist! That alone is one reason to get this record. They do have a "warts and all" approch though. You can hear throat clearing, laughing, even a cell phone making that fantom noise that it makes being to close to electronics. This record deserves to be played on big sounding "old school" stereo equipment (I have a Bang and Olufsen turntable, Marantz power unit from mid-70's and 4 Bose 501's and this sounds great very very loud!). So after 26 years (!) The Flaming Lips is one of the only bands left that I can still buy a record of on "blind faith" that it will be an exciting expirience. If I were to say what a lot of reviewers like to say about Pink Floyd, Yes and Led Zeppelin sure this does have that type of feel. But not that it sounds like it, it just fits nicely next to that stuff. If you need another reason to buy this record send me a comment and I'll try to think of another. I recommend buying this and play it LOUD!