Finally The Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid /
The Day They Shot A Hole In The Jesus Egg
label: rykodisc
production: tom jenkinson
year of release: 2002
Blood! Explosions! Drugs! Jesus! Aliens! Rock 'n' Roll!
Yeaaaahhhh, that's the shit! That's what we wanna see! Of course, it'd be a downright shame to reduce The Flaming Lips' illustrious career to such a brief burst of sensationalism, but it has to be said, they're a fucking exciting band and all of the above feature prominently in their work. Shaming the paltry efforts of dreary mass-marketed 'indie' slop like Coldplay (who are fans, inexplicably, though you wouldn't know from their truly depressing divorce-rock) and packing more raw emotion than the teariest of Emo-devotees, The Lips have been fucking with our heads and frying our brains like 'Hannibal' directed by Jim Henson for like, yaaars and yaaars, as this pair of compilations attest.

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A great example of a cash-in gone right, this release has been timed to capitalise on the success of this year's "Yoshimi Battles The Giant Robots". "Acid" and "Egg" collect all the early Lips you will ever need; four complete albums plus rarities, cover versions (including a amusingly truncated stab at Led Zep's "Thank You" minus the tricky bits), demos and little bits of silence between the tracks. The Flaming Lips started out very much as an extraordinarily inspired garage band, and the rough quality of tracks on "The Flaming Lips EP" and their full-length debut "Hear It Is" is appropriately grungy (although not in the sloppily metallic Seattle sense). The band's barely-contained experimental streak (incorporating the use of found sounds and Pink Floyd samples) and idiosyncratic lyrical preoccupations set them apart from the legion of instrumentally-challenged '80s hardcore bands. These assets would eventually blossom into fuzz-pop gold dust on later albums like "Clouds Taste Metallic", "The Soft Bulletin" and "Yoshimi". But here their conflation of punk inability and hippie sympathies constitute a more approachable Butthole Surfers, or Black Flag with the aggression replaced by dazed navel-gazing and wide-eyed wonder.
Wayne Coyne has recently gone on record saying that violence need not necessarily be the last resort when it comes to solving problems, and listening back to his '80s work, this comment makes sense. The career trajectory of the Lips can be likened to a particularly prolonged and violent birth, the group transcending a lack of skill and, presumably money, forcing originality into the world with little concern for the mess. Some of the music here is ugly, in a good way, but some of it approaches the kind of beauty fans and recent converts have come to expect. "Chrome Plated Suicide" (from '88's "Telepathic Surgery") is a fuzzy Phil Spector-esque epic which unfolds its monumental melancholy gracefully and gradually. "We were born to suffer some", keens Coyne. It's worth noting that his voice started off as an abrasive Iggy/Erickson drawl, getting higher and higher as the years passed until it resembled Neil Young lost in the toy department. All this and ascension metaphors too! Gee whizz!
Multiple-disc releases usually elicit a groan from this reviewer (a dedicated fan of brevity and concision in music) but "Acid" (3 CDs) and "Egg" (2 CDs) are a universe away from the usual multidisc tedium. Sure, you probably won't often feel the need to listen to the whole of both sets back to back, but as a huge treasure trove of consistently interesting and frequently inspirational music they're great to have around to dip into now and then, and indispensable for hardcore fans and completists.
review: joe stannard (
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