Sunday, July 25, 2004

SPACEMEN 3 - Perfect Prescription LP
Dragged this one out the other day for its annual review, and I'm glad to say I'm giving it an A- this time around. A smart person once wrote, at the time Spacemen 3 were around, that they were the only British rock group in existence they'd bother walking across the road to urinate on. Believe it or not, that's a complement, and a motion I'd like to second. I don't know if it was something in the water, but the Brits, since roughly 1982, have barely put a foot right when it comes to Rock Music. Sure, they've got the art nonsense of Current 93 and Nurse With Wound (both of whom I love), but when it comes to ROCK, they've been lost a hell of a long time, which is a pity, since so many of my pre-1982 favourites are Brits. Anyone care to differ? Please give me some examples.

There's a few crazy Scots whom I still have great affection for, even after all these years (Dawson, Dog Faced Hermans, Stretchheads), and sure there's the drone-rock of Skullflower, but other than that I can only see a few half-measures (Walking Seeds, Billy Childish and his many mutations), art projects (Simon Wickham-Smith and Richard Youngs, Vibracathedral Orchestra, etc.) and doomsters (Electric Wizard and their kin) I tend to like, none of whom I really consider "rock" in a classic sense or, indeed, "rock" at all.

OK, so you might as well throw in My Bloody Valentine (a band I never gave a hoot about at the time, but have grown to greatly enjoy the last couple of years, much to my surprise), Scott Walker, Robert Wyatt and the odd Fall LP in there, too, but that's it! Here's the point: Spacemen 3 were probably the only new, hot and exciting rock 'n' roll band England managed to produce throughout the mid/late '80s. Whilst the cynic in me says they merely reproduced their impressive record collection - featuring the MC5, Suicide, Stooges, Roky, Velvets, etc. - in an even more impressive fashion, the optimist in me says Yes, they did, and for that be thankful.

Spacemen 3 took these bands and strangled them for their own purposes, it was never simple regurgitation, and for proof of this I will point out their mind-boggling rendition of Red Crayola's "Transparent Radiation", in which they take the very basic essence of the song and give it a whole new interpretation, the result sounding more like an Alan Vega version of a classic psychedelic number. Like Spinal Tap say, "It's a twist". It  is simply a fucking awesome display of power. As far as truly psychedelic rock music of a grade A caliber from the last 20 years anywhere, Spacemen 3 were really it. Amen to that!

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