I paid a visit to iTunes this morning to see if there were any bar-goons to be had in the Bach Oratorio department (I know, I know). When I glanced to my right at the daily charts I was surprised to see the number 10 spot taken up with Dark Side Of The Moon, by The Flaming Lips.
It is what it says. At first glance it looked like too slight a project for me to drop a ten-spot on. But after reading all the hate-mail in the customer reviews I reached for my wallet. If an album by the Lips is this loathed, they must be doing something right. But what?
Most of the angry reviews stem from the fact that anyone would have the nerve to cover the entire classic Floyd album. After that we have comments from people who seem to think the covers should sound exactly like the originals. Then there are the moderately happy, in whose camp I reside.
The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. First of all, for $10 (Cdn: I understand Yankees only have to pay $8) it's a sweet deal. Wayne Coyne and Co. take the project seriously and produce a 40 minute set that entertains from beginning to end. And the music mostly works, often impressively. I was caught pleasantly off-guard by Coyne's version of “Time.” When the original, with a grumpy stridency, pronounces: “The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older / Shorter of breath and one day closer to death” — the final exclamation mark is so obvious it usually gets me giggling. Coyne's approach is softer-footed, and delightfully compassionate — a revelation, in fact.
In a project as Quixotic as this, there are the inevitable other moments. A completely digital makeover of "Money" is thematically appropriate but won't get me hitting "replay" too often. While listening to "Us And Them" I simply could not shake the image of a sweetly emotional Kermit The Frog in “It's Not Easy Being Green” mode. And Henry Rollins(!) sits in for Floyd's collection of barking nutters, acquitting himself quite well at times, but occasionally sounding a little too jolly in his Nietzschean pronouncements to be convincing as an ac-tor.
There are the usual fans crying out for a plasticized copy of this project, but that strikes me as overkill. I expect to play the album a half-dozen times or so, before moving on to other, more lasting fare. But for now the Lips' Dark Side Of The Moon is a welcome and appropriate addition/interruption to the holiday playlist.