Review: Flaming Lips & Stardeath - "Dark Side Of The Moon"
Flaming Lips & Stardeath
Possible leads considered for the review of The Flaming Lips’ rethinking of Pink Floyd’s most popular record and one of the highest selling albums of all-time: 1) In 2005, after buying and selling Dark Side at least five times (due to reissues, loss of interest, needing money, thinking I was “too cool” to like Pink Floyd, etc.), I told myself I’d never buy the record again. And here I am, buying Dark Side again; 2) Despite Wayne Coyne’s nephew trying to sound exactly like his uncle, this star-studded longshot of a remake works quite well; and, finally, 3) The Lips’ art-damaged, anything-goes take on Dark Side is better than Floyd’s original version.
Don’t get me wrong, at one time I loved Pink Floyd’s Dark Side. I can recall being 14 and riding my bike home from somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be, way too late at night, listening to “The Great Gig In the Sky,” feeling six-foot-one (instead of five-feet-nine). I’d just had my inaugural beer, was part of a solid set of friends and, most of all, was really into Dark Side of the Moon. Chances are, you’ve been there too.
But, after years of reissues and changes of taste, I finally grew bored of the record at age 25. So when I heard that one of my favorite current bands, The Flaming Lips, were not only covering the record live, but also making their own recording of it (featuring guests Peaches, Henry Rollins and Coyne's nephew's band Stardeath and White Dwarfs), I was not exactly intrigued. As reviews of the record came in I felt my every hunch coming true: this is an unnecessary, annoying record. Still, being the Lips junkie that I am (and considering that their recent Embryonic was my favorite record of last year), I bought their Dark Side with low expectations.
Note to self: in art, never trust critics and always trust heroes. Needless to say, I instantly loved Coyne & Co.’s reimagining of the Floyd’s seminal 1973 record. The sound is very out there and unique, an artsy rock record that makes no attempt to appeal to Floyd fans. The songs are all there, buried deep below a thick layer of Flaming Lips-style risk taking and sonic art.
If Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is the King of all drug records, then The Flaming Lips’ Dark Side of the Moon is the King’s outsider artist cousin-in-law, twice removed. Different yet somehow familiar - and with a completely different appeal. One of the most interesting - and challenging - remakes ever, surely, and made better by the low expectations that accompany its release. That the Lips took a played-out record and made it into such an unlikely and entertaining piece of work only furthers their legacy. Surely a someday cult classic of some sort, made perfect for late fall nights.