30 Best Loved Albums - Transmissions from a Satellite Heart

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #23 of the list...

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23. The Flaming Lips - Transmission from a Satellite Heart (1993)

The Flaming Lips have had such a long and storied recording career it’s hard to pick out an album as a favorite without igniting a huge debate. While many think The Soft Bulletin or Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots are The Lips’ best album, I come down strongly on Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. Other albums may have singular stronger or stranger songs, but as an entire album it’s Satellite Heart that I come back to time and time again. I go back not only for the weirdness but also for the fact that musically the entire album has a lot to love.

The Flaming Lips had been around for about 10 years with a couple of albums when Transmissions came out. They weren’t really that well known outside of their Oklahoma roots except among a small group of hard core fans who had come to love their weirdness. In 1993 however, the song She Don’t Use Jelly came out and was a big hit on “Alternative Rock Radio.? Suddenly the band was exposed to a whole new group of fans. Usually in cases like this a band's output can’t match the level of the “hit song? and fade back to obscurity. Not so with the Flaming Lips which continues to release albums and generating new fans. While not a band with mega-stardom, they are one of those bands that operates just under the pop-culture surface, recording albums that are hard to classify but loved nonetheless.

Transmissions starts with Turn It On, a straight ahead rocker that could have easily been a hit on par with Jelly. The Lips’ weirdness really comes out on the second track, Pilot Can at the Queer of God. Besides the nonsense name, the song contains a real chunky base riff, strange lyrics, and a bunch of studio craziness. In short a typical Flaming Lips song. The rest of the album has a bunch of trippy, fun songs that can be a perfect soundtrack to the end of a wild night or as a prelude to a night of partying. It’s one of those albums that works as a way to get a crowd riled up or to take a crowd down when it’s getting late.

One listens to The Flaming Lips for the weirdness and they don’t let you down on Transmissions. Headphones are a must as guitars play notes you’ve never heard before, studio tricks play with the head, and songs end in one ear as the next song begins in the other. Besides the aforementioned Pilot Can, Moth in the Incubator and Oh my Pregnant Head are sonically two songs that are mind expanding with bone crushing guitar licks erupting in places you least expect. But don’t get me wrong, Transmissions is not some weird album that is unlistenable unless you're under the influence, these songs are pop masterpieces and totally accessible even to the most staid listener.

Because the Flaming Lips were able to combine studio weirdness with pop sensibility, creating a lush environment that never gets old or mundane, Transmissions from the Satellite Heart is one of my 30 Best Loved Albums. What’s your opinion? What’s your favorite Flaming Lips album?

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List

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This page contains a single entry by Freealonzo published on September 4, 2007 8:56 AM.

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