Friday, April 16, 2010

FDF Volume 2 Issue 181 - The Flaming Lips - Transmissions from the Satellite Heart

By: March

Album - Transmissions from the Satellite Heart
Artist - The Flaming Lips
Key Players - Steven Drozd - guitars (and other stuff). Ronald Jones - guitars Michael Ivins - bass. Wayne Coyne - lead vocals, guitar
* all the band members played various instruments
Produced By - The Flaming Lips and Keith Cleversley

Release Date - June 22, 1993

What caused me to blow off the dust? - It is no secret I am a big fan of this band. The last few records have been some of the best albums I've ever heard and hit me at just the right time, in just the right place. They have missed as well, don't get me wrong, but overall they are a pretty flawless band. Their earlier stuff, for some reason, I tend to not reach for as much. This was sorta their "coming out party" record so I figured to not be too "indie" or too "indie hipster" I'd toss on this record for a front to back spin.

Overview - This is the 6th album from the Oklahoma band The Flaming Lips. One track from this record "She Don't Use Jelly" would become the bands first "charting" track and garner gets slots on Beverly Hills 90210. Even with the "success" of the song the band still maintains it loves to play the song and is not apologetic for it. This was the first album that long term member Steven Drozd would perform on.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- Released as a single and gaining some popularity "Turn It On" opens the record. Sounding a bit like a radio dial tuning and acoustic guitar before the punchy distorted drums in. Coyne has a gruff, gravely tone to his voice and pushes forward. The buzzy guitar comes up more at the end of the first verse. For the second verse the rest of the band sings along with Coyne and the bass gets pushed up in the mix. The guitars remain buzzy but the drums never go over the top. The backing vocals are full with various members going in directions of singing straight harmony to just doing "oohs" and "ahhs". With no fade "Pilot Can at the Queer of God" comes in. The drums hit down hard while it gets very buzzy under it all. The bass has a "chug" sound to it, some deep heavy bottom for sure. Again the band harmonies are strong helping Coyne with the upper registers. The deep buzzy guitar is just a juicy slice of awesomeness. The final portion of the song is Coyne solo singing about helicopters around your head and the vocals swoop from speaker to speaker for a swirling effect. Showing their fondness for odd song titles we get "Oh, My Pregnant Head (Labia in the Sunlight)". A slow drum line slaps down the 4/4 beat before the vocals come in. They are "airy" and some what laid back compared to the prior tracks. The guitars are awash with delay by the mid point of the song there is a strong build up you feel is going to be a big payoff but it goes back to the same melody. The bands biggest "hit" comes in "She Don't Use Jelly" as fun sing along with all the quirky lyrics one could possibly stand. The guitar track is actually interesting as one has a bubbly run and the second more a punchy/buzzy drone. The drums are hit with some heavy hands and the swooping sound of it all keeps your toes tapping. The first real test on any new fan with regard to Coyne's voice would be tested on "Chewin the Apple of Your Eye". The acoustic guitar sounds like a campfire sing along and you really get a "warts and all" presentation of the vocals. Heck, people like Bob Dylan, why not Wayne Coyne! It never really breaks out of the the acoustic lead track and Coyne whistles the listener out. "Superhumans" is a stark contrast, at least at the intro, to the prior track. Everyone hits down and its chaos for 10-12 seconds before it comes together and Coyne leads the band. The drums have strong rolls and for the first time we hear some percussive instruments (chimes/vibes?) and the guitars have more of a ring to them over the tail end of the verses. Oh, the distorted guitars are there too with splashes of church bells tossed in there too. "Be My Head" keeps with the real buzzy guitar but seems to have more of a poppy bounce to it. You can hear the buzzy guitars but the bass and drum parts seem to push you towards some fun rhythm that hits just in the right place. "Moth in the Incubator" is another acoustic lead track and has the warbly vocals of Coyne in the forefront. After the first verse it gets back to the buzzy goodness you've grown to love and expect with the record. For a song that seemed to be so "ehh" at the start gets a joyous instrumental run down for over a minute near the end with the bass being the focal point keeping the jam locked down. In a very odd (shocking) cover "Plastic Jesus" (A cover of the song "Plastic Jesus" from the Paul Newman film Cool Hand Luke. The title is obscured on the back of the album with stars). I hushed Coyne sings with a lone acoustic guitar. The drums start and the guitars and bass fill in a strong intro to "When Yer Twenty Two". By the time Coyne comes in fans of the more recent version of the Lips can see the formula they use now. Coyne seems to be pushing himself with regard to his vocal range (which is limited of course) but the band is so full on the track it pushes him to great heights. The wall of guitar at the ends blends perfectly with the intro to the album closer "Slow Nerve Action". The driving drums slap hard as the buzzy guitar carves over it. You hear a second melodic guitar under that run before the vocals begin. It is a perfect album closer blending the bands strongest characteristics throughout ending is a nice bombastic drum run.

Where are they now? - The band is still active today both in studio and on the road. Coyne, Ivins and Drozd are all active members. Ronald Jones left the band in 1996 after what is reported "issues with other band members".

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - Before I begin, I have to say, everyone should see this band is SUCH a blast. Been able to see the band on a few occasions. The first was as a side stage act during Lollapalooza. That one was at the Airport show in Rhode Island July 17, 1993. They were on the side stage as noted, playing in full daylight. I recall "Unconsciously Screaming" being played and a bubble machine. The next was April 18, 2000 at Axis in Boston. This was the first time I really saw the band put on "shows". The band has a crew, but they set up their own gear. Wayne said to the audience "Pretend you haven't seen us..we are going to go behind the curtain and come back act like you haven't seen us". They were great. Had the chance of a lifetime when on April 23, 2003 I was able to be part of their show. The show was at the Roxy in Boston and I was able to be a "dancing animal". We weaved through the crowd in our masks and hi-fived people, danced..and had fun on stage. We got to meet Wayne and the rest of the guys and everyone had a blast. The last time was August 30, 2009 at the Bank of America Pavilion. My buddy J (same one from last weeks post) called me 2 days before and said he had landed front row tickets and "did I want to go?" Hellz yeah. It was so over the top awesome. Balloons, name it. Just a total blast. I actually have a pending show with them at Lupos in Providence on July 6th.

FDF Overall Take - The Flaming Lips have been mentioned on many lists of bands you "need to see before your die" and continue to push themselves in their artist direction. Albums such as the "Soft Bulletin" and "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" are among the finest albums perhaps ever made (there I said it..but I'll defend it as well). The band has stuck with a major label that allows for artistic freedom. They released a four cd set called "Zaireeka" that is meant to have all four cds played at the same time. The band releases standard cd packages, but the last few records have also been available in 5.1 DVD Audio or Super Audio Cd formats allowing for multi channel mixes. I'll admit that Wayne as a unique voice, but his sound is so perfect for the band. Most would see them as "weird" but give them a chance (if you haven't) and you'll be pretty impressed.

The official site is here and myspace is

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

mp3's have been removed...

When Yer Twenty Two
She Don't Use Jelly
Turn it On (Bluegrass Version)

The tracks were taken from "Transmissions from the Satellite Heart" which you can buy here.

*The version of "Turn it On" is from the maxi single "She Don't Use Jelly".

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Craig said...

IMHO Nothing from Flaming Lips beats "Yoshima". This was (and is) a masterpiece album....

At 6:12 PM, Anonymous Jason Raven said...

This "J" fella that you keep talking about sounds like a pretty awesome guy!


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