The Flaming Lips

Heady Nuggs: 20 Years After Clouds Taste Metallic 1994-1997

Warner Bros.

Dec 17, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Among certain Flaming Lips fans, the apex of their early career is not The Soft Bulletin, but rather Clouds Taste Metallic, an album more or less showcasing a band in a state prior to transition. This was the last Lips album to feature the enigmatic virtuoso Ronald Jones, and in retrospect there really was nowhere else for the band to go as a traditional four-piece alt rock outfit. It is equal parts inspired brilliance and bored restlessness, a prelude to the coming chaos.

Therefore, Clouds Taste Metallic is the final note in The Flaming Lips second act—the first act consisting of their messy '80s output—and it is nearly flawless in that capacity. Ultimately, Jones' departure would force new creativity, but in reality, any follow-up to Clouds that wasn't a total departure from their previous sound would have been a disappointment.

Heady Nuggs certainly does the album justice with plenty of great bonus material, but these tracks reveal just how polished the final version of Clouds is by comparison. Live and studio outtakes illustrate how unrefined the band were without careful production or focus. Interestingly, there is not much even among this peripheral material that even remotely hints at the experimentation that resulted in Zaireeka or The Soft Bulletin, making this a fascinating collection of sounds the Flaming Lips eagerly left behind. (www.flaminglips.warnerbrosrecords.com

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