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SPACEMEN 3

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United Kingdom


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Spacemen 3 biography
UK outfit SPACEMEN 3 was formed in Rugby, England in 1982; the first incarnation of the band consisting of Jason Pierce (guitar, vocals), Peter Kember (vocals, guitar) and Tim Morris (drums). This line-up soon folded though; but in 1984 Kember and Pierce hooked up with Nicholas Brooker (drums, percussion) and Pete Bain (bass) for a more stable line-up, and the act landed a record deal with Glass Records, who issued their debut album "Sound of Confusion" in 1986; a production strongly influenced by heavy psych rock.

Changes were afoot on many levels for the band though, having achieved something of a cult status after their debut album. Prior to the recording of their sophomore effort Brooker was ousted, replaced by Stewart Roswell (drums, percussion), and in the fall of 1987 "The Perfect Prescription" was released; an album that saw the band exploring more of a droning, minimalistic type of psychedelic rock. The album got Spacemen 3 international attention, and a European tour quickly followed.

After the tour Bain and Roswell left, replaced by William Carruthers (bass) and Jon Mattock (drums); and with this new line-up in place, and a record deal with Fire Records to boot, their third and most critically acclaimed production "Playing With Fire" saw the light in 1989. This creation is still a highly influential album for acts exploring musical landscapes within the ambient/droning space rock genre.

Despite critical and commercial success the band was falling apart at this time; with the two remaining founding members barely on speaking terms. When hitting the studio for the recording of their next album, Kember and Pierce recorded their compositions on their own; and the album was assembled with one half dedicated to the works of each of them. In 1991 the final product was issued as "Recurring"; but at that time Spacemen 3 had already folded; the main members already active in other groups and projects.


WHY IS THIS BAND LISTED AT PROGARCHIVES:
UK outfit SPACEMEN 3 managed to achieve commercial and critical success in their brief time together; and at the same time they expanded the borders of progressive, psychedelic music in general; and for minimalistic, droning space rock and ambient psychedelic rock in particular.

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SPACEMEN 3 discography


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SPACEMEN 3 top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.40 | 6 ratings
Sound of Confusion
1986
3.87 | 14 ratings
The Perfect Prescription
1987
3.24 | 6 ratings
Playing With Fire
1989
2.06 | 7 ratings
Recurring
1991

SPACEMEN 3 Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Performance
1988
3.00 | 1 ratings
Dreamweapon
1990

SPACEMEN 3 Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SPACEMEN 3 Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Translucent Flashbacks (The Glass Singles)
1995

SPACEMEN 3 Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Transparent Radiation
1987

SPACEMEN 3 Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sound of Confusion by SPACEMEN 3 album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.40 | 6 ratings

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Sound of Confusion
Spacemen 3 Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

2 stars SPACEMEN 3 got their start as far back as 1982 in Rugby, England by Peter Kember aka Sonic Boom and Jason Pierce better known as J. Spaceman. These guys were the only members to stay with the band for the entire eight year run but soon encountered kindred spirits in creating a style of psychedelic garage rock that was inspired by heavy drug use and longed for the missed opportunities of the 1960s psychedelic drug culture.

After a few years of playing live gigs, SPACEMEN 3 found interest in a select concert in Coventry which led to a demo tape and then this first album SOUND OF CONFUSION which appeared in 1986. In addition to Sonic Boom (guitar, feedback) and J. Spaceman (guitar, vocals), this first album also featured Pete Bain on bass and Nicholas Brooker on drums and percussion. The original album came out on the Glass label only on vinyl but found a second issue in 1989 on Fire and yet another release with bonus tracks in 1994 on Taang!

This debut is roughly half originals and half covers of songs by artists like13th Floor Elevators and The Stooges who were the band's primary influences. The band became well known even at this early stage for its self-penned brand of "minimalistic psychedelia" and the members promoted heavy drug use which the hypnotic and minimalistic music perfectly represented. The members not only promoted cannabis use but LSD, magic mushrooms, MDMA, amphetamines, cocaine and were admitted heroin addicts which explains the lackadaisical almost robotic performances on SOUND OF CONFUSION.

Having been the starting point for the later band Spiritualized which J Spaceman would find greater success, SPACEMAN 3 pretty much started out as a fairly generic garage rock band inspired by Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground as far as the mopey presentations are concerned along with a rough proto-punk guitar sound of early Stooges. The 13th Floor Elevator influences come in from the psychedelic droning and swirling synth sounds that accompany the minimalistic two and three chord patterns that indeed do become monotonous and well, rather dull actually.

While the band would venture out into more diverse soundscapes, SOUND OF CONFUSION is truly an album that was meant to be really [%*!#]ed up on drugs as it is about as monotonous and uninspiring of an album as i've ever heard. Admittedly not my musical bailiwick, i do appreciate beautifully crafted psychedelic rock and even angsty clever garage rock that has some melodic heft under its wings however SOUND OF CREATION doesn't really excel in either. While perfect for zoning out on ketamine or your drug of choice, this album doesn't really offer much to the active listener with an incessant plodding of extremely minimalistic guitar fuzz, a lazy percussive beat and mopey almost comatose vocals.

The following album "The Perfect Prescription" would add more musical elements and at least allow some variations to accompany the minimalistic guitar chords but on this one it's all above the ultimate zoning out and for my tastes a complete waste of time as the album literally sounds like the same track recorded over and over with nothing more than a few chord changes and literally the type of music anybody could record in like 10 minutes as there is no actual compositional approach attempted. While that may not be the point, the album just doesn't work from a psychedelic standpoint either as the Stooges attempt distracts from the shoegazey droning and the trippy background while sounding decent enough doesn't really deviate from the one-trick pony stylistic approach. Not my thing!

 Recurring by SPACEMEN 3 album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.06 | 7 ratings

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Recurring
Spacemen 3 Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by ssmarcus

1 stars So this is what Chinese water torture must feel like. Nothing particular abrasive upfront but the sheer repetitive uneventful monotony of it all is more than a enough to bore a hole straight through your brain anyway. The music on this record is what would have emerged had 60s British invasion bands decided that Heroin, and not acid, was their drug of choice for musical inspiration. Instead of Strawberry Fields, we get "hey mate, don't sweat it. Just like sit down and press record. Life's too short to care too much."

I had the displeasure of coming across this record when a friend of mine recommended it to our album club. Had I merely been indifferent to the music here, I would have avoided publicly sharing my thoughts on the Archives. After all, I don't know much about this genre and what would constitute a worthwhile addition to its ranks. But given that I would rather have no music playing at all than having this record playing, I felt compelled to warn other potential listeners before they subject themselves to this.

For what its worth, the second half of this record with its relatively more standard compositionally choices is significantly better than the first. Its not good, but its also not entirely unlistenable. Apparently, internal strife had reached a fever pitch within the band causing its two main song writers to write and record separately. Thank God for that!

 Transparent Radiation by SPACEMEN 3 album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1987
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Transparent Radiation
Spacemen 3 Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars 'Spacemen 3' was a psychedelic band that existed between 1982 and 1991. Through those years, the line up changed several times, but 2 members remained consistent, both Jason Pierce (who would go on to form the band 'Spiritualized') and Peter Kember (who would later record as 'Sonic Boom' and 'Spectrum'). Both members would have success with these later projects.

Spacemen 3 was well-known for it's members use of recreational drugs and how this influenced it's music. They used the formulas of other previous psychedelic/space rock bands like 'Hawkwind' and experimented with other styles as ambience. After their debut album and the companion EP, they broke away from the louder and heavier psychedelic rock and started to introduce more dynamics and ambience into their music. While working on their 2nd album 'The Perfect Prescription', they recorded a cover of the 'Red Krayola' song 'Transparent Radiation' and released it as a 5 track EP in 1987. The EP is actually as long as many albums at over 38 minutes. The tracks from this EP would later show up in a collection named 'Translucent Flashbacks ' The Glass Singles', released in 1995 and combining this EP with two other early EPs onto one album. The original EP would also be reissued in 2011.

As mentioned previously, the first track, 'Transparent Radiation' is a cover of a song by another psychedelic band 'Red Krayola'. In this track, we get the expected psychedelic sounds, but everything is muted and the vocals have a thick echo/delay effect, making for a blurry, layered background with guitar riffs appearing from the foggy accompaniment. There is also no percussion.

'Ecstasy Symphony' builds from a drone that fades in and is soon joined by spoken word 'I was wide awake in a dream.' Swirling ambience continues with synths and a subdued violin. This drone ebbs and flows while the violin plays around it, twisting in, out and through the drone while occasional short spoken word passages come out of nowhere. This continues on for just over 9 minutes.

'Transparent Radiation (Flashback)' comes next, thus bookending the 'Ecstasy Symphony' with different versions of the title track. This time, the track is much softer and the lyrics easier to understand. It is also longer at over 7 minutes. Where the previous version used a thick wall of layers, this one is much softer allowing you to hear each individual instrument which is mostly driven by the violin and the melody. Strummed and plucked guitars become more apparent later.

'Things'll Never Be the Same' begins with a wailing guitar fading in and becoming backed by another fuzzy guitar providing a drone base. This one is more intense and heavy with somewhat angrier vocals. Percussion is finally apparent, but it is minimal as everything else is intense. The entire track is based around a non-changing chord.

'Starship' is the final track and the longest on the EP at over 11 minutes. It is written by the band with help and inspiration from 'MC5' and 'Sun Ra'. Reverb effects are applied to the entire group of instruments playing, melding and melting sounds together. This all breaks down after minutes with nothing but guitars churning out feedback and losing control. Intensity rebuilds until that wall of noise returns being led by punished guitars that soon return to their repeating patterns. At 7:30, the wall falls apart again and this time the feedback is not as heavy, but the fuzzy guitar is trying to generate intensity again, which it finally succeeds in doing. Now everything really comes crashing together into chaotic noise which continues to the end.

This EP is good insight into the differing styles of Pierce (who is responsible for the softer, more ambient tracks) and Kember (who influences the noisier and heavier tracks). While some of these tracks appear on the album 'The Perfect Prescription', they appear in different mixes, or versions. The EP itself is still a worthwhile recording showing psychedelia and space rock taking on new sounds and textures as Spacemen 3 expand the boundaries of the genre. The EP is one of the first to demonstrate the use of ambience more extensively to lend variety to the sound. If you are a lover of this style of music, then this is an important recording to have whether you can get it as an EP as originally intended, or in the collection. Either way, it is an excellent album for your progressive library as far as the development of psychedelic music goes.

 The Perfect Prescription by SPACEMEN 3 album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.87 | 14 ratings

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The Perfect Prescription
Spacemen 3 Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Spacemen 3 arguably took the spirit of Hawkwind to even more narcotic extremes in the 1980s, being as they were a space rock band who, unlike their more coy predecessors in previous decades, made no bones about their extensive appreciation for and endorsement of narcotics. But don't make the mistake of thinking they were too intoxicated to produce interesting material; few neo-psychedelic units would have contemplated producing a song like Ode to Street Hassle, an esoteric rant juxtaposed with a bass groove reminiscent of the classic Lou Reed Song, for instance. Although it sounds like anaesthetised chaos on a first listen, give it more of a chance, because there's more going on here than meets the ear at first.
 Playing With Fire by SPACEMEN 3 album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.24 | 6 ratings

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Playing With Fire
Spacemen 3 Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is SPACEMEN 3's third studio LP. Good album but not as good as their classic "The Perfect Prescription".

Things get started with "Honey" a slow paced tune with organ, acoustic guitar and bass. Psychedelic vocals a minute in. "Come Down Softly To My Soul" is another laid back song but better than the first one. Keys, guitar and bass open as reserved vocals come and go throughout. "How Does It Feel ?" opens with spoken words as a guitar line comes in and seems to echo. This continues throughout. The spoken words return after 1 1/2 minutes and another guitar comes in. Drums for the first time before 5 1/2 minutes. Vocals follow. Great track !

"I Believe It" opens with organ as spacey vocals come in. It kicks in around 2 1/2 minutes to a fuller sound. "Revolution" is my favourite. It's full of attitude and life. Guitars are ablaze as drums join in. Vocals follow. Bass 5 minutes in then it speeds up and an all out assault is the result. "Let Me Down Gently" brings us back down to the mellow side as organ, bass and softly sung vocals come in. This is slow and psychedelic. "So Hot (Wash Away All Of My Tears)" is a cool song with the focus on the fragile vocals. "Suicide" is powerful as the guitars create a wall of sound. It's actually pretty high pitched and somewhat annoying considering it's an 11 minute song. "Lord Can You Hear Me ?" is a laid back tune with gentle piano and soft vocals. Some guitar 1 1/2 minutes in.

Just doesn't touch me like the previous album, but well worth the 3 stars.

 The Perfect Prescription by SPACEMEN 3 album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.87 | 14 ratings

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The Perfect Prescription
Spacemen 3 Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Jason Pierce and Peter Kember are the leaders of this band and pictured on the album cover of "The Perfect Prescription".This album and "Playing With Fire" were very significant records in the late eighties. Alternative Press describes them as having "...a British style and an American heart". The music is very psychedelic with fuzzed out guitars, drugged out vocals and spacey soundscapes. Let's just say the Krautrock spirit is alive and well on this album. Drugs and spiritual themes seem to be their obsession but there is no denying the talent of these space cadets. In fact Jason Pierce would go on to form SPIRITUALIZED and continue the themes started on these SPACEMEN 3 albums. Please check out "Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space", a very significant record from 1997 by SPIRITUALIZED.That album has vintage keys, strings,horns and noisy guitars much like this one. On this record we can hear farsifa, violin, sax, trumpet and organ as well as the usual bass, percussion and guitars.

This recording is truly a trip and I love it. I came to know it years ago through James Unger's (loserboy) website. He's so into the Psychedelic scene, and this was one of many I purchased back in those days. I didn't even know until getting info on this album that my version (a 1996 edition) has four bonus tracks.They don't specify that, and I thought they were part of the original recording.

"Take Me To The Other Side" is led by drums, guitar and bass as he pleads "Come on take me for a ride, take me to the other side". Very repetitive but oh so good. "Walkin' With Jesus" opens with organ as almost spoken vocals come in. Bass followed by strummed guitar and drums follow as this contrast continues. Love the lyrics here. Amazing tune. "Ode To Street Hassle" might be my favourite on here. It's like the theme from the previous song is continued as he talks about walking with Jesus and talking to him. Different vocalist on this one. Again I love the lyrics. Bass and synths are prominant. "Ecstacy Symphony" features spacey synths that would make TANGERINE DREAM proud. It blends into "Transpaent Radiation (Flashback)" which is a RED KRAYOLA re-worked song. The original was released in 1967. Violin and strummed guitar lead as bass joins in.The vocals before 1 1/2 minutes are almost spoken.This is melancholic to say the least. For many this is the best track on here. Great lyrics.

"Feel So Good" features guitars, horns and bass with almost spoken vocals. Very laid back. A second vocalist comes in. "Things'll Never Be The Same" has this dissonant, fuzzed out guitar. Very psychedelic with vocals that have attitude. One of my favourites. "Come Down Easy" is a catchy tune about getting high. "Call The Doctor" is darker with almost whispered vocals. Spacey organ after 2 minutes. "Soul 1" is an instrumental with keys and guitar standing out. "That's Just Fine" is a top three tune for sure. Check out the intricate guitar ! "Starship" is a re-worked MC5 tune from 1969. Check out the guitar feedback as drums come in. Guitar follows. Great sound ! This song was on an EP of theirs called "Transparent Radiation" released the same year as this album (1987). It turns chaotic and freaky. Love the guitar 3 1/2 minutes in to end it. "Ecstacy" is over 8 1/2 minutes of Klause Schulze-like spacey music. Very cool.

An excellent and important addition to any Psychedelic collection.

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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