Spaceman 3 Recurring
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Recurring is really a Spacemen 3 album in name only. Once the 90's had rolled around, Sonic Boom and Jason Pierce's relationship had become so acrimonious that the two wouldn't even enter the studio together. In fact, I don't think they both appear on any of the album's tracks. Thus, we get sort of a weird double EP with Boom's tracks on side one and Pierce's tracks on side two. Even the backing is different as Boom uses some friends and a few folk that would follow him on to his next project, Spectrum. Pierce's backing is in fact the first line-up of Spiritualized. I guess Spacemen 3 simply had a contract to finish. Let's look at this as two separate collections. I thought Sonic Boom supplied the better tracks on Playing With Fire (although only by a hair or two), but he sounds positively wasted here. Tracks like the opening "Big City," "I Love You," and "Why Couldn't I See" include some lame automated-sounding backing and a half baked 'Madchester' influence. Unfortunately, that influence comes through like a second-rate Inspirial Carpets. To add insult to injury, his vocals are a big cut below previous performances and he comes across as drug-addled bored rather than surreal and altered. With some different arranging and performances, these would've been a lot better. Maybe that's where Boom needed Pierce. I can't really say that for "Just To See You Smile," which appears in a vocal and instrumental version. Actually, it's a fine song with great production, but it was also a fine song with great production on Playing With Fire, where it was called "Honey" and sounded EXACTLY THE SAME. Fortunately for this album, Pierce came in with his game face on. His tracks with the soon-to-be Spiritualized take the gospel vibe of Pierce's Playing With Fire tracks and amp up the production and dreaminess. With Boom out of the picture, Pierce goes for an airy, atmospheric drone rather than Spacemen 3's previous pulsing drone (not that there's anything wrong with a pulsing drone). Blessed with some great organic performances, this side of the album seriously contrasts with side a's badly programmed beats. The tracks on this side are uniformly great and serve as the not-so-missing link between Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized. If you're new to this album, it would probably be in your best interest to skip to track 8 in case you have trouble stomaching Boom's songs. Or you might try the Mudhoney cover of "When Tomorrow Hits" on track 7 which harkens back to the Sound Of Confusion-era style. Mr. Boom manages to come through ok on that one.