Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cycle of CDs: The Flaming Lips - 'Transmissions from the Satellite Heart' (1993)

The evolution of MTV's programming amazes me. In bad move, worse move, to horrid move, MTV went from a place to catch some varied music and an occasional funny show to being the channel that brought us the unwatchable shit known as "The Jersey Shore." (I judge people who claim with pride that they watch this crap.)

Back in the day, MTV was still devoted enough to music to incorporate it into their programming. Remember "Remote Control," which brought us our first sight of a young Adam Sandler? How about "Beavis and Butthead"? I watched Beavis and Butthead from almost day one -- I remember catching them late night in a hotel room in Mobile and laughing while loving the music. I found them funny, 'till they wore out their welcome in my house. But, before that day, they played the recent, odd-ball videos and commented on them from their couch, much like my friends and I did. Even when the stopped being funny, I'd still tune in to see if they'd play "Punk Rock Girl" or an awesome Violent Femmes tune.

That's where I first saw The Flaming Lips with their psyhed-out crazy, if not interesting, "She Don't Use Jelly" video. It was catchy. I sang along. I loved it. About half of my friends did not. I went out and bought the cassette tape. Hell, as it turned out, the whole tape was amazing!

It started out with a bit more serious song, if not equally as fun. "Turn it On," with its talk of supporting radio that plays things totally different than corporate stations, sort of predicted what MTV was going to become ("If it ain't got no relation/To all those other stations/Turn it on").

The album, as a whole, is a joyful one that perfectly tempers its loud, boisterious, original rock with the sporadic slower songs.

The thick riffs on here are loud and crunchy as if they are played from a wall of Marshall stacks. They also stick with you for you to hum along to on a summer day.

Sure, the Lips would go on to be praised for their later albums (they deserved it, too), but I always will love this one. A full theme had yet to emerge for the album as a whole, but I still think that the theme of fun prevails. Summer music from a time when MTV gave a shit about artists rather than the almighty, shitty-show dollar! Can you imagine that now? Grab it, 'cause I know you got it, and turn it on.

Editor's Note: This is number twelve of a series of essays where the author takes a look and listen into every CD he has in his collection.


  1. The early 90s were some great years in music.

    I remember the first time I watched MTV. I was 10 and I knew I had discovered something great. Not too long after that, I was introduced to Pearl Jam on MTV unplugged. As soon as I could I went out and bought TEN. It basically changed my life.
    Oh, how things change.

  2. My dad was a t.v. freak. He still sort of is -- he likes the biggest, best things. So, when I was as young as seven or so, he bought a satellite. It was one of those big, white, round numbers you put in your yard.

    I watched MTV back when they actually "went off" at a certain hour and would return with music. It's so hard to imagine this, but they honestly just played videos from the time they started in the morning 'till they signed off. That was amazing. I can remember a lot of those videos and songs.