Follow these fearless alterna-rockers on their path from Eighties weird to pop bliss few would have thought in the late Eighties that the Flaming Lips, a crazed and beautiful psychedelic band from Oklahoma City, would survive the fall of alternative rock, then actually flourish in the Nineties. These two recollections of previously out-of-print Lips music document how guitarist Wayne Coyne and bassist Michael Ivins did it. They started strong: Their early lysergic tracks reveal a band bent on reinventing the raging, surreal moves of the Dream Syndicate and Sonic Youth. But The Day They Shot a Hole in the Jesus Egg captures the moment when the band came into its own by reconciling its impulse to shriek with its ability to shine. It came with the Lips' 1990 album In a Priest Driven Ambulance — included here in its entirety — on songs such as "Unconsciously Screamin'," where Coyne learned to float his high, pretty and pretty strange vocals over waves of jagged distorto-riffs. The second CD of this set, subtitled "The Mushroom Tapes," documents the delirious but limited path the Lips wisely chose not to take. Or as Coyne himself writes, in the passionately spacy liner notes, the Flaming Lips learned to be honest, even though they had initially been "convinced that to 'shock' or 'teach' listeners was more important than being real. . . . What fools we were."
From The Archives Issue 909: November 14, 2002