REVIEW: The Flaming Lips’ “With A Little Help From My Fwends”

 photo FlamingLips14_cover_zpsd41ccabf.jpg The last time we heard from The Flaming Lips, they made a fantastic album called The Trial (my review of which can be read by clicking here.) After having a bit of surprise success with their cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon in full, the Oklahoma gentlemen decided to get into their mushroom storage shed again to cover another classic rock album, this time The Beatles’ highly cherished Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The new album is called With A Little Help From My Fwends (Warner Bros.), called this because the Lips are joined by a number of special guests, some welcomed, some unwelcomed, some surprises, others not so much. Overall, it is a split effort. Some songs work fairly well while others fail miserably, even within the context of The Flaming Lips. Some of the more demented stuff is quite good, including versions of “With A Little Help From My Friends” with Black Pus and Autumn Defense), “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite” (with Maynard James Keenan, Puscifer and Sunbears), “Lovely Rita” (featuring Tegan and Sara, Stardeath and White Dwarfs), and “When I’m Sixty-Four” (with Def Rain & Pitchwafuzz). Surprisingly, it is Miley Cyrus’ two contributions (yes, two) to the album are some of the best songs here, playing roles in “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” (which also features Moby) and “A Day In The Life” (featuring New Fumes). If Cyrus ever steers towards making more serious music, she may become a huge influence on a generation or two of many young singers. That’s not a joke.

The absolute best track is “With A Little Help From My Friends” not only because it has Black Pus but because it’s the noisiest on here. Would I listen to this on a regular basis, not really. I prefer other Flaming Lips albums and EP’s and I like The Beatles’ album a bit too much, even though I do enjoy the way they’ve always reinterpreted other people’s works. It may work very well for other listeners so if your mind is open up to this, definitely plug it in. Despite the fact that a good part of it sounds like a total failure (and definitely feel freel to define “failure” in your own way), the good thing about this is that all proceeds from record sales will go to The Bella Foundation, an organization in Oklahoma City that helps provide veterinary care to needy pet owners. Buy it for that reason.

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AUDIO: Zorch’s “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”

There’s a tribute album coming out for The Beatles’ 1967 classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and it happens to be the new album by The Flaming Lips. Titled With a Little Help from My Fwends, every song on the album features the group’s aforementioned friends, including Zorch who did a cover of “Good Morning, Good Morning”. They were also asked to do another song, the nice reprise for the album, and they did. However, when they submitted their version, another cover had already been selected for the album. Coyne liked it so much that he decided to use it, but release it as a B-side for a 45. Or something, and I say that because it is uncertain on how it will actually be released so if it does not, here it is encoded for your convenience.

As for the final version of With a Little Help from My Fwends, Warner Bros. will be releasing it on October 28th.

REVIEW: “Re-Machined: A Tribute To Deep Purple’s Machine Head”

Photobucket There was a time when I was obsessed with tribute albums. Didn’t matter if it was Sonny Bono, Love, The Damned, Alice Cooper, R.E.M., Captain Beefheart, The Outsiders, The Troggs, Leonard Cohen and I can go on and on and on, I loved them because it was one way to not only hear new interpretations of songs, but a way to hear your favorite artists covering a song that may or may not have been one of their own influences. For awhile, it seemed Sonic Youth was everywhere. Marking the 40th anniversary of Deep Purple’s Machine Head, Re-Machined<: A Tribute To Deep Purple's Machine Head (Eagle Rock Entertainment) is a way to revive the greatness of that album by having a number of artists record it, song by song.

Since “Smoke On The Water” became the big FM radio hit, the song is covered here twice, first by Carlos Santana & Jacoby Shaddix. Santana’s guitar work is still top notch while Shaddix does the song respectively. Sammy Hagar: say what you want but regardless if its his own band, joining a group that needs a replacement, or hooking up on a new project, he remains one of the best rock vocalists of all time. He gets to do what he does best with Chickenfoot as they take on “Highway Star” in a live setting and make the crowd literally piss on themselves from the excitement.

Glenn Hughes & Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith handle “Maybe I’m A Leo”, Black Label Society punch up “Pictures Of Home” with grace, while Kings Of Grace get “Never Before” into a bluesy Bryan Adams-type motif. Flipping to side two…

The second cover of “Smoke On The Water” is handled by Flaming Lips, and if you know what these guys have been capable of doing for almost 30 years, then you know that you must expect the unexpected. Wayne Coyne and crew flip the song into an mushroom-tinged political manifesto, complete with thick and fat Moog’s and… this would be that record you’d find in the back of a used record store, praised not by the owners but mold and ring wear.

The wicked “Lazy” is turned up to 11 when given into the hands of Jimmy Barnes & Joe Bonamassa, and the late Jom Lord would be extremely proud by the B-3 solo that dominates this version.

Iron Maiden offers up the album’s proper ending with their cover of “Space Truckin'”, and hearing Bruce Dickinson singing this definitely takes the song back home to the grittiness of England, where it originated.

Then things get interesting. When I had heard Metallica were offered a chance to cover a song, I actually thought “watch them do the B-side that was recorded during the Machine Head sessions”, and they did. “When A Blind Man Cries” had always been a song some fans found difficult to find, especially Americans. It was the N-side to “Never Before”, released as a single in the UK and other European countries, but U.S. radio had taken to “Smoke On The Water”, “Highway Star”, “Lazy”, and “Space Truckin'”. James Hetfield becomes a sweet balladeer in the song’s first half before he, Kirk Hammett, Rob Trujillo and Lars Ulrich deliver the crunch that fans have loved for 30 years. As shown in the Cliff ‘Em All home video, Metallica have been Deep Purple fans since the beginning so hearing them do this (and expecting for them to do the non-LP track many still have never heard) is a treat.

The album ends with another cover of “Highway Star”, this time the team of Glenn Hughes and Chad Smith returning with guitarist Steve Vai who, I have to say, is just fucking wicked when he honors Ritchie Blackmore with his solo. I also want to say that I’m glad that he wasn’t given the task to do “Smoke On The Water”, because while everyone knows of his origins with Frank Zappa, it would have been too appropriate for him to play in the song that features the line “Frank Zappa and The Mothers”. Yet when it’s his time to do the solo in “Highway Star”, the former “stunt” guitarist flies into space (as many fans did when Machine Head came out) until the right moment.

While there are a few covers on this that could’ve been better, I still feel Re-Machined was organized properly and executed in fine fashion. Having name artists also helps give this a push, making this more than a casual tribute CD attached to a copy of Mojo magazine. I’m also glad that the producers behind this album didn’t go overboard by asking artists who would have messed up the integrity of this recording, although I’m someone who generally doesn’t mind that but this is a record that means something to hard rock and heavy metal, along with generations of guitarists, singers, bassists, drummers, and organists who made this one of their personal favorites. The twists from Metallica and Flaming Lips are great, and Iron Maiden ending with a bit of pride for the United Kingdom seems only right.

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VIDEO: Flaming Lips featuring Erykah Badu’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”

NOTE: Some of the imagery in this video, which includes shots of a nude woman, may not be for all audiences, so to be safe, this is NSFW. They’re not allowing websites to embed it, so click the image below which will take you to the video at Vimeo.com.

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Flaming Lips have a new collaboration album coming out called The Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends (Warner Bros.), where they are joined with a number of different artists, including Ke$ha, Lightning Bolt, and Yoko Ono, but what has gained a lot of attention in the last few days is a video for their collaboration with Erykah Badu, a cover of Robert Flack‘s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”. The song is Badu entering the Flaming Lips’ adventurous musical world, as if her natural and organic self decided to explore their acid and mushroom tinged soundscapes. But there has been a controversy not for the song, but for the video that was directed by Lips frontman Wayne Coyne.

If you have seen the videos Coyne has done in the last 20 years, you’ll know that he can be trippy. In this case, it seems that Badu agreed to do the video with him with a few ideas and expressed between her and Coyne. However, an alleged “rough” version of the video was placed on Pitchfork and Badu was livid about what she saw. She had claimed that she did not approve of this version of the video, even though it was presented as a “raw cut”. Badu accused Coyne of being “self serving”. You can see the views of both Badu and Coyne in an article written at Okayplayer. For a few hours, the video was removed from YouTube and Vimeo, but before it was, it lead to a lot of people discussing it in forums and in social media. It has also lead to countless videos on YouTube where people recorded their first viewing of the video, treating it as if if it was the music video equivalent of 2 Girls, 1 Cup. I initially missed it because I felt I would eventually see the video by the weekend, and when it was removed, I questioned “was it really that bad?”

I knew that what considered controversial was a nude woman that people assumed was Badu herself. Rather, it was Badu’s sister, Nayrok. As for the imagery… well take a look first if you haven’t seen it and then come back here.

Ready?

  • The song turns a beautiful ballad into a distorted rock dirge, rhythmless yet still retaining its beauty in a murky haze. However, what seems to be irking people is the imagery in the video of Nayrok not so much being in the nude, but being covered in mysterious liquids. At first, Nayrok is simply covered in glitter. Then she’s covered in a red liquid. Then she’s covered in white liquid, and that’s where the arguments and debates started. People wanted to know what it meant. As someone who has watched music videos since I was a kid, music videos do NOT have to be 100% literal, things can be very abstract and mean nothing. Music videos are nothing more than promotional tools for the audio, a means of marketing with the aid of eye candy. Or in this case, mysterious red and white liquid. Some of the red/bloody liquid were displayed on Nayrok’s rear-end, and… I have not read or heard any other comments but did people view this as something to suggest rape? There’s a brief scene where the blood is covering Nayrok’s face, as the line “the first time ever I saw your face” is sung by Badu, and in my mind I’m thinking metaphors of birth.

    Then there’s shots of Nayrok being covered in a white liquid. One might go “oh, yet more objectification of a black woman being fetishized by a white man”. In other words, “a sexual object”. It can be seen that way if you want to see it that way, and with some of this white liquid shown dripping slowly, you could see it as softcore porn, a twisted bukkake shot. Or you could see it in a humorous way and look at the white liquid as sugar frosting, the ingredients for a glazed doughnut. Sounds weird? By the time it reaches this point in the video, coming up with the idea of this representing the doughnut is probably the least weird thing you can visualize. Or if you twist its possible meaning again, you can see the white liquid as something sexual, if not sensual. First kiss, first touch, first smell, first… orgasm? The first time ever I saw your face post coitus? Pre-creation? Post-creation? Procreation?

    Is this video controversial because it’s meant to be oppressive? Is it meant to be offensive? Or is it truly noting more than expression through abstract imagery that can mean anything that you want to see in it, but can also mean absolutely nothing. The video is not violent in anyway, but red liquid often brings visions of blood, or at least in a violent society that we tend to think is heavily promoted by news items of the day, we immediately see negativity. It could be positive. Then again, it can mean absolutely nothing.

    Perhaps this dispute between Badu and Coyne is complete hype and another means of promotion, nothing more than a way to promote a unique Roberta Flack cover, and the Flaming Lips forthcoming album. There are going to be people who will see this video and go “wow, how can a song so beautiful get treated with a video that is shameful?” But is it really shameful, or shameless? Or is it just images? Beauty is just as mind in the mind of the beholder as is ugliness.

    Perhaps this is the end result of what Badu mentioned a few years ago, the idea of “groupthink”. There is indeed other perspectives if you wish to look at other directions or paths, but if you are stuck in believing that this is video has one meaning, you’re going to discard other interpretations? Of course, that’s up for debate too.

    I had posted a note to Coyne and Badu on Twitter that I didn’t expect a reply to, but I had basically said that if Badu did indeed object to it, why not have her create her own video, her own interpretation of the song. I ended by saying the video could be called “conflict of vision, unity in sound”, as a way to say that she objected to this edit of the video and the way it was presented, and since this was a collaborative song, one would be able to see her vision of their song.

    Nonetheless, you can see it and think for yourself.

    http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B007P3BM3Ehttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B007VR24SQ

  • AUDIO: Flaming Lips release longest song in their career

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    The Flaming Lips have come out with a new release called Strobo Trip. Unless you were in Portland, Oregon, there was no way you could purchase this but this is sure to be made available in collector’s circles. However, the thing that makes this new release of interest is the new song “I Found a Star On the Ground”. Outside of this being a new song, the song is 6-hours in length. That is not a typo: A 6 HOUR SONG.

    You are able to take an endurance test and listen to it in full, as three separate parts, by clicking the Soundcloud players.

    http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F23818790
    The Flaming Lips – I Found a Star On the Ground [Part One of Three] by Slow•Nerve•Action 3

    http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F23817939
    The Flaming Lips – I Found a Star On the Ground [Part Two of Three] by Slow•Nerve•Action 2

    http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F23820627
    The Flaming Lips – I Found a Star On the Ground [Part Three of Three] by Slow•Nerve•Action

    RECORD CRACK: New titles from Warner being prepared for Record Store Day


    Warner Bros. Records is very active in making sure each Record Store Day is as festive as previous years, not only in attendance but in getting new items out in stores. As always, many of these items are made exclusively for and meant to be sold on that day only. Here are some the titles the Warner family have ready to go:

  • Bad Brains-God Of Love + bonus 7” (vinyl LP + two song 7” single)
  • The Belle Brigade-The Belle Brigade (vinyl LP)
  • Built To Spill-Ripple (7” picture disc) (this one is a 1-sided picture disc and will feature a previously unreleased live cover of the Grateful Dead song, which BTS recorded in Charlotte, North Carolina on October 11, 2010.)
  • Eric Clapton-Unplugged (Two-disc set on 180-gram vinyl; mastered by Bernie Grundman)
  • Deftones-Covers (vinyl LP)
  • The Flaming Lips-Heady Nuggs: The First 5 Warner Bros. Records 1992-2002 (this one is a 5 LP box set, indivudually numbered, of the first five albums the band did for Warner Bros. each of which has been remastered by Bernie Grundman. They include:
    Hit To Death In The Future Head (Single Disc)
    Transmissions From The Satellite Heart (Single Disc)
    Clouds Taste Metallic (Single Disc)
    The Soft Bulletin (Two Disc)
    Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (Single Disc)

  • Fleetwood Mac-Rumours (Standard and Deluxe Editions, both mastered by Bernie Grundman)
    Even if you have this album (and really, with sales of over 10,000,000, you know someone who does), you may want to pick up these editions. One will be a standard pressing at 33 1/3 rpm, while the other is for the audiophiles: a 2 LP 45rpm edition pressed at Pallas in Germany. Yes, the thick stuff.

  • Mastodon-Live At The Aragon (Deluxe 2-disc set on 180-gram vinyl + DVD; Bernie Grundman Mastering)
  • My Chemical Romance-Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) (7” picture disc)
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-self-titled debut (two limited edition pressings, one on white vinyl, one on blue, both mastered by Bernie Grundman)
  • R.E.M.-Three (3 – 7” single 45 RPM discs, first three singles from their new album, Collapse Into Now, each with non-LP B-sides, each record in individual art gatefold sleeves. Bernie Grundman on this one as well.:
    Disc 1. Mine Smell Like Honey/ Supernatural Superserious (live in Raleigh , NC )
    Disc 2. Oh My Heart/ Harborcoat (live in Riga , Latvia )
    Disc 3. ÜBerlin/ What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? (live in Oslo , Norway) )

  • Regina Spektor-Four From Far (Limited Edition 7” 33 1/3 RPM EP on powder-blue vinyl)

    Want even more limited edition craziness that will no doubt bring up the old Poison Idea title Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes? Warner Bros. are also introducing a series of records called Side By Side, limited edition 45’s where a Warner-related artist of today covers a classic Warner-related song of the past. In the works:

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers covering The Ramones‘ “Havana Affair”
  • Green Day covering Hüsker Dü‘s incredible “Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely”
  • Mastodon covering ZZ Top‘s “Just Got Paid” (probably no chance of Mastodon including a brief passage of Johnny Kemp‘s “Just Got Paid”, but you never know)
  • Jenny & Johnny getting Americana on us with their cover of Gram Parsons‘ “Love Hurts”

    Obviously, many of these releases are in-house, if not down right incestuous, but with luck this will spark the noggins in other artists and labels to do the same not only for this Record Store Day, but for releases throughout the year, across the board.

    If you have any soda or wine bottles lying around, or know of parks with many empties, I suggest geting some bags and making the rounds, as this will definitely cause a dent in your pocket.

  • RECORD CRACK: You can now see the Flaming Lips’ “Dark Side” in LP form

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing the Dark Side of the Moon received a digital release late last year to a positive reaction, and why wouldn’t it? Flaming Lips covering Dark Side Of The Moon from start to finish in their own unique way.

    If you’ve avoided the digital release, or felt “one day someone will release it on vinyl, where DSOTM belongs”, you’ll now get a chance. The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing the Dark Side of the Moon will be released on vinyl in time for Record Store Day on April 17th. The artwork proofs created by the band’s “Visual Generalist” George Salisbury were approved according to Salisbury himself. This means that the artwork and design for the vinyl version should be very interesting, considering the original Pink Floyd album came with a poster, stickers, and postcards. Considering the visuals Salisbury have created for the group over the years, it will no doubt be very interesting to see. Will it become the new album to roll hash joints on? Only time will tell. The bongwater stains await.