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Scratching the Door: The First Recordings of The Flaming Lips

Open Mic Controller | 26th July 2018

The Flaming Lips

Scratching the Door: The First Recordings of The Flaming Lips

Rhino/Warner Bros.

Jul 25, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

One of a series of recent Flaming Lips reissues, including an early years studio album collection and a Greatest Hits compilation, Scratching the Door highlights the earliest recordings The Flaming Lips made, back in the '80s and with Wayne Coyne's brother Mark on vocals. Included here are the band's first two cassette demos and its first self-released EP.

The results are a beautiful, jumbled psychedelic, garage rocking mess—in other words, exactly what you'd expect from early Flaming Lips. Nothing that would remotely resemble anything that would appeal to a major label is present on these tapes, which is what makes listening that much more interesting. This was the sound of The Flaming Lips experimenting with sound, with song, and with who they wanted to be musically.

What is surprising, listening to these recordings 30-some years later, is how well they stand up in light of the band's more lauded work. "Bag Full of Thoughts" sounds like a lost post-Floyd Syd Barrett track, riding high on driving guitar riff and airy vocal. "Garden of Eyes" is two minutes of instrumental LSD swirl. "My Own Planet" absolutely shreds, with furious guitar and lyrics about not being able to tolerate the human race. "Real Fast Words" is blistering quasi-punk.

All is not perfect. The longer six- and seven-minute tracks have a tendency to plod. Some of the garage rock on the second half of this compilation is not as interesting as the psychedelia of the album's first half. Covers of the "Batman Theme," "Summertime Blues," The Who's "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere," and Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown" aren't much more than curios.

But ultimately, Scratching the Door is more than mere historical document. It's a still vital collection and reminder that The Flaming Lips didn't begin with The Soft Bulletin or even "She Don't Use Jelly." They were exciting from the start.(

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