Artist: The Flying Lizards
Date Released: 1980
Produced By: David Cunningham
- Mandelay Song (a/k/a Der Song Von Mandelay)
- Her Story
- Summertime Blues
- Money (That's What I Want)
- Events During Flood
- The Window
- All Guitars
- Money (Single Edit)
(Tracks 11-13 only on CD issue)
I don't know if y'all know the story of this record. So, here goes - David Cunningham was a minimalist, avant-garde composer who'd been doing some art projects—not getting too awfully famous, but, well, what minimalist avant-garde composer does, right? Anyway, he was doing all right for himself anyway. Anyway, for a larf, after recording his Grey Scale album, he recorded a cover of "Summertime Blues". It turned out that Virgin liked it and wanted to release it as a single. He thought "The Flying Lizards" sounded like a good fake band name, so he put it out under that name. Surprisingly, it sold really well, and Virgin wanted a follow-up. So, he did the same thing with "Money (That's What I Want)"... and that sold even better (and still gets played on the radio today!). So, naturally Virgin wanted an LP... so David Cunningham made this. If you're expecting an album that's full of "Money" and "Summertime Blues" retreads—sorry, that's Top Ten, but we've got some lovely parting gifts for you. Mainly, this record—the answer to the unasked question "What happens when you've got a guaranteed hit record, and don't particularly care what happens with it?". And the answer -- brilliance.
I only wish that I were alive and part of the record buying publicoid when this came out—I can only imagine what it would be like to sit down for the very first time, plunk down the needle on the run-up groove and hear "Mandelay Song" blare out of the speakers for the first time. This is one of those classic New Wave/Post Punk/Avant-Garde albums, and one of the few to hit mainstream audiences. Of course, there are tracks like the two singles to make the album palatable to the folks who were buying it to get those songs -- "TV", though an original, captures the stripped-down sound of those songs as well (and was the next single from the record), and "Her Story" and "Russia" both have a similar feel if not a similar sound to them. But, for the most part, if you're just wanting Summertime Blues Part II, you're going to be disappointed. Though if you want a really interesting, great record, you won't be.
The second side of the record is primarily made of an ambient soundscape suite (Flood/Trouble/Events During Flood), and the final cut, the brilliant and ethereal broken-pop song "The Window", which, though a departure from the record, is one of the stand-out tracks. It sounds like a long-lost collaboration between Björk and Renaldo & The Loaf. If that makes sense. Which it might not. But whatever, it RULES. And so does this entire album. Oddly enough, the more cohesive and straight-forward Fourth Wall might be a better starter to the band (as it wasn't actually recorded as an art-rock prank!), but that's impossible to find, so, hey, get this one. It's EXCELLENT, and just because it's a prank doesn't mean it's not one of the best records of 1980. - Rev. Syung Myung Me