Spacemen 3: Playing With Fire

Have you ever bought an album on the recommendation of a friend, listened to it and thought: “Meh.” So you put it away where it sits for a few years until you grow bored enough to give it another shot where after you exclaim: “This is f*&ckin’ great!”

Spacemen 3’s Playing With Fire was one such album for me. Initially I thought it a little too repetitive, more concerned with mood than actual tunes. So away it went. But I’ve kind of rediscovered one of the bands that emerged from the ashes of Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, and it made me dig out PWF again. Drone rock of the highest order, with a strong gospel influence is the best I can describe this album.

Their sound had a lot of influence on the so-called “shoegazing” scene of the late ‘80’s/early 90’s, but the two primaries in this band had a lot more to offer than most of the bands associated with that particular genre. These guys took the psychedelia of the late ‘60’s and have twisted it into something a little experimental and a little nostalgic. Off times the noise they make can be a little harsh for the average ear but overall the beauty far outweighs the discord. Dig into the history of this band and you’ll find that the two leaders were on the outs with each other, and the record sounds like an aural divorce. Pierce, who would go on to found Spiritualized, writes the spiritual, softer songs while Sonic Boom (Pete Kember) keeps on bringin’ the noise. Of special note is the amazing “Revolution” which sounds like a supergroup comprised of members of the MC5 and My Bloody Valentine.

Well I’m sick…
I’m soooo… sick !
Of the lot of people
Who try to tell me
What I can’t
Count do
In my life
And I’m tired…
I’m soooo… tired !
Of the lot of people
In a lot of high places
Who don’t want
And me
To enjoy ourselves
Well I’m through the people
Who can’t get up their ass
To help themselves
Change this government
And beat up the society

(It’s a shit !)

So hold on a second
I smell burnin’
And I see a change
The bend
And I suggest to you
That it takes
Just fiiiiive… seconds
Just fiiiiive… seconds
Of decision
To realize
That the time
Is right
To start thinkin’ about
A little

 *For fans of the Velvet Underground, Suicide, 13th Floor Elevators and The Stooges, The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Galaxy 500.