While it may seem kinda odd to write about things that shreek and glow in the dark at Christmastime, perhaps it is fitting in the Tim Burton-attuned Nightmare Before Christmas world in which we live. Last year, one of my favorite bands of semi recent vintage — The Flaming Lips — issued numerous limited edition 12-inch extended-play singles, each a collaboration with different cutting edge artists you may or may not have heard of, depending upon your tastes in music and art.
I was able to get my hands on three of the releases fairly easily thanks to the good folks at Amoeba Records in San Francisco. The fourth one, however — a collaboration with Yoko Ono and The Plastic Ono Band — proved particularly elusive; I’d read in some places that it was only sold at The Flaming Lips’ New Year’s Eve show in Oklahoma but I’m not sure if that is 100% accurate. I finally obtained a copy about a year later — late last month, in fact — when I visited Amoeba Records in Los Angeles for Record Store Day.
Then I found out it was a glow-in-the-dark record, so I broke out my tripod and actual real camera (not just my iPhone) to grab some long exposures of this ghoulish disc in action.
Honestly, though, the groovy glow is mere gravy, because of all the Flaming Lips collaborative EPs from this group, this one is the most appealing and fully realized of the four collaboration discs. One side has three tracks that sound like a cross between 1968-era Pink Floyd, Neil Young, The Flaming Lips, Phil Spector and, well, Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band. The other side (which spins at 45 RPM) has one tune on it, a Christmas song that feels like a loose sequel to John and Yoko’s now-classic smash hit from the early 1970s, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” .
The neat thing is, you don’t have to track down this ultra-rare glowing record to hear the project for yourself. Via an archive page on Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace site comes this embeddable shareable sound cloud player with all four tunes from the EP, so please do check them out below.
While I like the experimental jam tunes, my favorites are the more melody driven pieces:
“Brain of Heaven” plays like some lost Lennon B-side circa Mind Games, with Yoko appearing as Ronnie Spector starring in a remake of David Lynch’s Lady in the Radiator song (“In Heaven Everything is Fine”). It’s really very haunting and beautiful and over the top — an almost gospel tune from beyond the grave. The Christmas tune, “Atlas Eets Christmas” (say it slowly and you get “At Last It’s Christmas”) is a really sweet song that lovingly pays homage to the past while being its own thing. Give it a listen and you’ll see what I mean. Having Sean Lennon’s voice there in the mix adds to the decidedly Lennon-esque flavor of the song.
What a treat!
Here are two of the songs. Visit the Imagine Peace site to hear the rest of the tracks and read about the sessions and more.