Flaming Lips vs Mercury Rev

  • Mercury Rev, Endlessly
  • The Flaming Lips, Motherfuckers

0 voters

Inspired by the recent Lips activity, the two bands’ shared history, members, styles etc make a potential comparison intriguing and fun. Me, I must vote Mercury Rev, and I’ll try to explain (IMHO) why:

Albums - Building Up To Awesomeness

The Lips are hugely more prolific, but took a good while to hit their stride (and yes, I actively enjoy their pre-Ambulance work, more so than their mid-00s onward material). Mercury Rev introduced themselves to the world with one of the greatest albums ever. Nuff said.

Albums - The Golden Years

The Lips might win this in terms of quantity - the run from Ambulance to Clouds Taste Metallic is masterful, and The Soft Bulletin deserves reverence from all. Still, Mercury Rev followed up Yerself Is Steam with another three consecutive masterpieces, so it’s tricky. Stone-cold classic albums wise, the Lips slightly win numbers-wise:

Mercury Rev - 4 (YIS, Boces, SYOTOS, DS)
Flaming Lips - 5 (IAPDA, HTDITFH, TFTSH, CTM, TSB)

but given the Rev’s consistent peak from inception, plus the fact I’d take any one of their classics over HTDITFH (my Lips peak) means they win this round too.

Albums - Past Their Peak (YMMV)

It’s easy to consider TSB and DS side-by-side as the two bands’ breakthroughs, so it’s also easy to compare Yoshimi and All Is Dream in the same way. Fifteen years ago I’d say Yoshimi had the edge, but now I’d vote for AID every day of the week, and I’d vote Rev comparing The Secret Migration and At War With The Mystics. Beyond that, both bands have been peddling diminishing returns AFAIC, but since there’s considerably less of it in Mercury Rev’s catalogue (stop with the stoopid cover albums, Wayne!), they win here too…

Live
Hard to say here since I’ve seen the Lips five times and never seen the Rev, but in the live recordings section of my collection, again the Rev win hands down. Their 1992 Brixton Academy gig (supporting Ride) is available on Bandcamp in pristine audio quality, and it’s one of the most thrillingly intense live albums I’ve heard - how Ride followed that set up I’ll never understand. Still, in the interests of fairness, I’ll call it a draw.

Guitar Noise
Both bands had Jonathan gieing it laldy at their peaks; the Lips had Ronald Jones and the Rev have Grasshopper. Based purely on both bands’ guitar noise classics, it’s a draw.

Whimsy
Yep, both bands’ later careers have been plagued by it. Me, I prefer Jonathan Donahue’s introverted, slightly dark, mysterious, faerie, obtuse Tolkein-esque gibberish to Wayne Coyne’s extroverted, sunny, mysterious, alien sci-fi gibberish :wink:

Experiments/Side Projects
This is where Mercury Rev utterly slays the Lips - in Wayne’s corner we have all that Fwendy shit, and in Jonathan’s corner we have the mighty Harmony Rockets with their (at least) five albums of noisy, jazzy, folky, pastoral psych experimentation, not to mention the Cinematic Silent Sound Tettix Wave Generator…

Covers
Again, Fwends etc :frowning: I haven’t fully digested The Delta Sweete Revisited (nor am I aware of the source material) but it’s a very pleasant listen so far.

So, out of eight rounds I score it 7-1 in Mercury Rev’s favour. Vote then back me up or tell me why I’m wrong, fellow DiSers :slight_smile:

(I feel bad for not giving Zaireeka more kudos experimentation-wise (it’s great!) but a) it’s considered part of their ‘proper’ canon rather than a side project and b) all that silly 6-hour, 24-hour song nonsense as well as the Fwendiness reduces Zaireeka’s impact somewhat - throw enough shit at a wall and some of it’ll stick etc)

It’s the Flaming Lips. Full stop.

Mercury Rev have three and a half amazing albums. Flaming Lips have at least eight. Fuck’s sake, this is no contest.

6 Likes

You’re right, it is no contest :wink:

But yeah, Lips fans: I want to know why you think they’re so wonderful and why you think they’re better than the mighty Rev. And fair’s fair, the Lips are obviously great too :slight_smile:

Its flips.

Bit despite that, and even though its prob not their best album… deserters songs is the one from their combined discographies that id save from the fire.

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Deserter’s Songs is also only around a 7/10. That album falls off so badly halfway through.

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I know what you mean (DS is my least favourite of the Rev’s classic quartet, as is TSB in terms of the Lips’ classics), but I’d also argue the same quality issue plagues the Soft Bulletin (in terms of individual songs, if not pacing). More damningly, for me it’s the ‘classics’ on TSB that suffer - I could quite happily never hear “Prize” and “Superman” again, for example, whilst DS’ duller moments are mostly instrumental and atmospheric and easily ignorable. It’s probably not helped by the stupid UK edition tracklisting, but from day one I found TSB a wonderful but disjointed listen, whereas DS feels more like a proper journey…

Another plus point for the Lips on my part (see, I’m fair!):

Recording Quality of their Classic Album
Hit To Death In The Future Head is noisy and awesome and wonderful and recorded with pin-sharp clarity. Yerself Is Steam is a flat, dull, overly quiet smudge of sound in comparison (no, we don’t want no loudness war nonsense, but still, there’s no real dynamics to this album and the noisy bits should be considerably more thrilling, head-rattling and goddamned LOUD compared to the lovely acoustic moments within). The songs are some of the greatest ever written, but the recording doesn’t make it easy to appreciate them…

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Flaming lips have one good song.

which one?

The one with the nice drums

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You mean Flaming Lips songs have real drums on them? Where? :wink:

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ohhhh, that one. Yeh, they’re nice drums.

Recorded with a single overhead mic afaik

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Mercury Rev have that one song

But then Flaming Lips are a bit rubbish

Ah I’m not sure

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yeh, it’s hard when you put it like that

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15 votes in and I’m pleasantly surprised to see the Rev-Lips vote at 40%-60% thus far; shocked the Rev are doing so well TBH! :slight_smile:

Flaming Lips are probably the better band but I just can’t think of any of their songs I would want to hear again

1 Like