Hear It Is (1986)
Superhumans (Band Lineup): Wayne Coyne (g, v), Michael Ivins (b), Richard English (d)
Duration: Originally 10 songs, 41:51; later CD pressings included “Summertime Blues” making it 11 songs, 44:22 (early pressings on the Pink Dust label also included the self-titled debut EP)
Longest Track: “Jesus Shootin’ Heroin”, clocking in at 7:21, takes the title.
Most Bizarre Song Title: The Lips aren’t too crazy this early out with “Jesus Shootin’ Heroin” being the most outlandish song title.
Album Cover Imagery: The front cover is simply a photo of the band while the back cover is rumored to be Richard English’s eye while tripping on LSD (though the lack of dilation leaves me calling bullshit).
Just Like Before (Song Reprisals): “With You” opens the album and then reappears in a brief reprisal at the end of album closer “Staring at Sound” to give the obvious song title “Staring at Sound/With You II”.
Shine on Sweet Jesus (Songs That Mention Jesus): 2, “Jesus Shootin’ Heroin”, “Charlie Manson Blues”
Other People Name Dropped: Well, Mary gets named in “Jesus Shootin’ Heroin”, Charles Manson – “Charlie Manson Blues”, Clint Eastwood – “Godzilla Flick”
Does Godzilla Make An Appearance?: Yes, in “Godzilla Flick”.
Number of Covers: 1, “Summertime Blues” was included with later CD pressings. The Lips attack the song with Blue Cheer’s ferocity only instead of Cheer’s sludge, the Lips favor Eddie Cochran’s hair gel.
Verdict: This is the Flaming Lips at their most rock ‘n’ roll. Much of the album has a strong connection to the American Underground of the mid-80s. The Lips are perhaps at their most Replacements-like with songs such as “Staring At Sound”, “Trains, Brains and Rain”, “Charlie Manson Blues”, and “Man From Pakistan” featuring Coyne’s voice in a slightly Westerberg style (if years of alcohol and smoking hadn’t made their marks).
Fans of the group’s more recent fare might find some comfort in “She Is Death”, a dimly psychedelic haze. However, it’s between the dark, brooding nature of “Jesus Shooting Heroin” and the subject matter of “Godzilla Flick” where the roots of The Terror can be found. —Len Comaratta
Wayne’s Words: “If you listen to Hear It Is, it’s radically different to who we are now. If you didn’t know it was the same group, you could easily like what we do now and really hate what we did then. Some people would see that it’s just an evolution of personalities. I loved those early records because they are just so far away from who I am now. I see them being done by a different person. They are just ridiculous, ridiculous records. The part of our past I really like was how it was always a little bit of a surprise. There was no particular style; it was just very freaky music. That first album forced me to find a way to sing more emotionally. Back then, it was a lot of screaming and out-of-tune guitar. We are always trying to be more emotional, and if we hadn’t been able to do that, we would have stopped and killed ourselves.”