Friday, May 22, 2009

The Drozd Effect

Ten years ago this week, The Flaming Lips released one of the greatest albums ever recorded - The Soft Bulletin. If you are somewhat new to the Lips' music, it may be hard to comprehend just how amazing this album sounded upon its release back in 1999 and why its beauty has a lot to do with addition and subtraction.

The Flaming Lips' journey began way back in 1983 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the only original members remaining are lead singer and guitarist, Wayne Coyne, and bassist, Michael Ivins, who both admit to not being very good musicians. The band went through several lineup changes, but the most notable would occur in 1991 when a talented multi-instrumentalist by the name of Steven Drozd would replace Nathan Roberts on drums. In 1996, guitarist, Ronald Jones, would quit the band because of Drozd's increasing heroin addiction, thus paving the way for Drozd becoming more influential in the Flaming Lips' sound.

The first album with the "Drozd effect" would be the psychedelic classic - Zaireeka - though few people would hear it as it was a four-disc box set meant to be played simultaneously on four separate cd players. However, on May 17, 1999, the "Drozd effect" would turn heads with the release of The Soft Bulletin - an album whose sound was a complete departure from the Flaming Lips' previous "acid-rock" output. The Soft Bulletin came out of left field and it's the defining moment in their 26-year career where a really good band suddenly became great.

For many, the Flaming Lips are defined by the eccentric, down-to-earth frontman - Wayne Coyne - a man, I might add, who can often be found inside of a plastic bubble tumbling over a live audience much to the delight of his fans. However, if you listen to the Flaming Lips' entire discography, it's apparent that the band is defined by the pre-Steven Drozd era and the post-Steven Drozd era and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which is the best.

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