Re-issued last month (as all records seem to be these days) Jason Pierce recently said that he didn’t even think about remastering or tinkering with his 1997 masterpiece, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space’ – an album he wrote following his break-up with band member Kate Radley (now married to Richard Ashcroft).
“I couldn’t think of anyway I could make it any better”, he said.
And he’s right. It’s a perfect album brimming with beauty and chaos. One minute it’s a punch to the head, the next the heart, and all done amid majestic ‘how did he do it’ arrangements. It’s genius on a par with Brian Wilson’s ‘Pet Sounds’ – that ability to take the sound in his head and place it on record. It’s also a record which probably would have had difficulty getting made today, for budget reasons. Spiritualized weren’t a particularly popular band in the years leading up to its making – even by indie standards. And yet this is a record packed with brass, strings, choirs and all the musical pieces Pierce needed to construct the aural jigsaw in his head.
There’s too many great moments to single out – the majestic opening (of which the re-issue comes with an Elvis sample, as Pierce originally intended, but which proved too costly first time around – see below) to the stomping ‘Come Together’, with those great juts of brass, and the pulsating ‘Electricity’, or the way he delivers the lyrics to ‘I Think I’m In Love’ (probably just hungry).
My favourite moments? Well ‘Broken Heart’ is one of the greatest heartache songs ever recorded – from its fantastic straight-from-the heart lyrics to the mournful, tear-jerking string arrangements through to the sublime vocal, as Pierce sings like a man desperately trying to hold it together before coming apart with the line “..and I’m crying all the time.” Tender and beautiful.
And just on ‘Tender’, Blur’s great tune perhaps owes much of a debt to Spritualized’s ‘Cool Waves’, with its vocal, lyrics and use of the London Gospel Choir preempting Damon Albarn by two years or so. To sum things up, anyone who doesn’t own this record – go buy. The special edition (as the original did) even comes in some of the best packaging you’ll see – packaged in a box designed to resemble prescription medicine, complete with “dosage advice” and a foil blister pack containing the CD. Essential stuff.