The Flaming Lips

Finally, The Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid

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Finally, the Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid is the first, and largest, of two archival sets from Restless which collects nearly all the material released by the Flaming Lips before they left independent rock for one of the most unexpected major-label deals in history. Over the course of three discs, it tells the story of what Wayne Coyne calls "a talentless, inexperienced, poorly conceived, poorly equipped drug damaged group of friends and family who had an enthusiasm for punk, new wave and classic rock." It's difficult to argue with any assessment from the notoriously honest Coyne, and especially so based on much of this material. It begins with the band's debut EP from 1984, five rockers that certainly aren't pedestrian, but also don't make much sense. Coyne's brother Mark -- later the subject of the classic "Put the Waterbug in the Policeman's Ear" -- takes lead vocals, but disappears by the time of the Lips' first album, Hear It Is, which encompasses the straightahead acid-rocker "With You" as well as more addled material like the epic (in length) "Jesus Shootin' Heroin" and "Charlie Manson Blues." Oh My Gawd!!!... from 1987 and Telepathic Surgery from 1989 are even less straight-ahead than previous work; the band basically used these albums as sounding boards for all the studio- and effects-experimentation that would only pay off later in their career. Still, though Coyne has less control over his voice, and the band attempts prog or metal clich├ęs at the drop of a hat, much of what made the Flaming Lips so special later is here to be found -- if not enjoyed, or as frequently. Since the quantum leap made by the band with In a Priest Driven Ambulance is documented only on the second of these sets (The Day They Shot a Hole in the Jesus Egg), consider this three-disc set an enjoyable fan-only collection and not the genesis of masterpieces like Transmissions From the Satellite Heart and The Soft Bulletin.

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