- Mercury Rev, Endlessly
- The Flaming Lips, Motherfuckers
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…
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.
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.
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
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…
Again, Fwends etc 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