Monday, January 26, 2004

#91) Flaming Lips - In A Priest Driven Ambulance (released in 1990, I ordered the CD from City Lights sometime in late 1999/early 2000, back when I was under the false impression that The Soft Bulletin represented a glorious new breakthrough in pop music - I still think "What Is The Light?" is beautiful, though. Sadly, this album is now only available as part of a bloated 2CD compilation called The Day They Shot a Hole in the Jesus Egg. It's probably still worth it.)

On In A Priest Driven Ambulance, the Flaming Lips had a sinister edge (not to mention a spazzoid guitar assault) that would be gradually be replaced over the decade by benign cutesypoo pomp – today they’re the indie Supertramp at best and the indie Styx at their worst. But in 1990, the Lips resembled a thoroughly unprofessional Neil Young & Crazy Horse trying to turn John Lennon’s Sgt. Peppers-era work into actual ROCK songs. Wayne Coyne would never again sound as frustrated as he does on “There You Are,” or as foreboding as he does on blasphemously bonkers tracks like “God Walks Among Us Now” or “Rainin’ Babies.” There’s an affecting sense of manic insecurity here, which reaches its peak on “Mountainside,” a six and a half minute kamikaze burst of horror and affection, with guitars (courtesy of Coyne and future Mercury Rev leader Jonathan Donohue) squealing and swooping over the rhythm section’s nutso throb, symbolizing Coyne’s repeated declaration that he’s “flying into your mountainside, dying in your plane crash of LOOOOOOVE!” The closing cover of “What A Wonderful World” is definitely a mawkish portent of the schlock to come, but the rest of the album is plenty engaging and twisted enough to make up for it.

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