First of all, hooray for compilation albums. Second of all, hooray for compilation albums compiled by musicians of their own favorite musicians. The art of these albums has been consistently growing through the years.
No longer a tangled cassette tape with Lisa Frank scratch and sniff unicorn stickers adorning the sides, unintelligible writing smeared across the top and bottom, the awkward sonic starts and stops between tracks where heavy handed ‘stop’ and ‘record’ business intertwined in the interim, the mix tape of today is seamless and expansive, often accompanied by personal face art and in depth jackets and liner notes.
Following in the footsteps of the “Back to Mine” and “Under the Influence” series, “Another Late Night,” now known as “Late Night Tales,” wrangles musicians into compiling lists of their own favorite music and releasing it for the public to enjoy. What often makes this process interesting is that it shows the influence and contributions made by the bands in the work of the artists themselves. “Late Night Tales: The Flaming Lips” is an interesting, diverse journey through the halls of the eccentric Lip’s front man Wayne Coyne’s own musical education.
What is immediately shocking about this offering is the remarkably unpretentious nature of the songs chosen. From a band whose personal lives were known to be as delightfully weird as their experimental music (“Zaireeka,” a four disk release meant to be played simultaneously as individual elements composed of tracks of sound from origins like barking dogs, and remember the album Coyne conceived to be an orchestra preformed by several tens of automobiles later entitled The Parking Lot Experiment?) their choices in this album are surprisingly tame, including tracks from Aphex Twin, Miles Davis, The Chemical Brothers (what the hell?), Mice Parade and (gasp) Bjork. Radiohead is on here fer chrissakes.
The Lips also cover the White Stripes, adding their own lyrics. However humdrum these choices might seem, almost every selection is a good one, and certainly fits the down-tempo style of the “Late Night” series. The notes accompanying the chosen songs are interesting as they explicate what highlights made the song included in the set.
Chris Bell, formerly of Big Star, renders a lodge-in-your-throat gem as does Roxy Music and Faust. Blast from the past numbers include Nick Drake and Sebadoh (thank god just because this transports me to middle school, doesn’t mean I still have to don a hand-me-down
Members Only jacket listening to them now). Finally, the disk ends with the signature LNT spoken word piece, David Shrigley’s “The Jist,” a perfect touch to the Late Night Tale’s concept.