The Soft Bulletin

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The Soft Bulletin
Soft Bulletin cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 17, 1999
RecordedApril 1997 – February 1999
StudioTarbox Road Studios, Cassadaga, New York
Genre
Length58:26
LabelWarner Bros.
Producer
The Flaming Lips chronology
Zaireeka
(1997)
The Soft Bulletin
(1999)
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
(2002)
Singles from The Soft Bulletin
  1. "Race for the Prize"
    Released: June 14, 1999
  2. "Waitin' for a Superman"
    Released: November 8, 1999

The Soft Bulletin is the ninth studio album by American rock band the Flaming Lips, released by Warner Bros. Records on May 17, 1999, in the United Kingdom, and on June 22, 1999, in the United States. The album was released to widespread acclaim, and was hailed by critics as a departure from their previous guitar-heavy alternative rock sound into a more layered, intricately arranged work.

Music and lyrics[edit]

The album was considered to mark a change in the course for the band, with more traditional catchy melodies, accessible-sounding music (their previous album Zaireeka was a quadruple album of experimental sounds meant to be played on four separate stereo systems simultaneously), and more serious and thoughtful lyrics.[5]

The album was also noted for its fusion of ordinary rock instruments, electronic beats, and synthesizers. Its large, layered, symphonic sound has also earned it a reputation as the Pet Sounds of the 1990s from a few critics.[6][7] This sound was achieved in part by detuning and layering multiple MIDI keyboards as opposed to recording a live orchestra.[8]

Artwork[edit]

The cover artwork of the album is a modified version of a photograph taken by Lawrence Schiller titled The Acid Test: Neal Cassady, which according to Schiller, depicts Neal Cassady dancing with his own shadow during an Acid Test conducted by the Merry Pranksters.[9] The original photograph was featured in a 1966 Life magazine article on LSD.[10]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic85/100[11]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[3]
Entertainment WeeklyA[12]
The Guardian4/5 stars[13]
Melody Maker4/5 stars[14]
NME9/10[15]
Pitchfork10/10[16]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[17]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[18]
Spin9/10[19]
The Village VoiceB[20]

The Soft Bulletin was lauded by critics and fans alike and topped numerous "Best of 1999" lists. The album is now considered by many to be the Flaming Lips's masterpiece.[21] The Soft Bulletin is considered by some to be partially responsible for establishing the latter-day identity of the Flaming Lips, and as its following expanded over the years after its release, paving the way to their being among the most well-respected groups of the 2000s.

In 2006, Robert Dimery chose The Soft Bulletin and its follow-up Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots as part of his book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[22] Pitchfork ranked the album 3rd on the Top 100 albums of the 1990s list,[23] and awarded it a rare score of 10.0. AllMusic's Jason Ankeny gave it a highly enthusiastic review, concluding that "there's no telling where The Lips will go from here, but it's almost beside the point -- not just the best album of 1999, The Soft Bulletin might be the best record of the entire decade".[3] According to Acclaimed Music, The Soft Bulletin is the most acclaimed album of 1999, as well as the 110th most acclaimed all time.[24]

Since late 2010, the album has been sporadically performed live in its entirety over the years, and on May 26, 2016, an orchestra was used to embellish sounds of the album while the band played their main instruments for the album at the concert.[25]

As of 2002 it had sold 100,000 units in the United States according to Nielsen SoundScan.[26]

Track listing[edit]

Upon its release, The Soft Bulletin was subject to record company demands for commercial-sounding music, hence the inclusion of remixes of several songs. In addition, the US ("The Spiderbite Song") and UK ("Slow Motion") CDs each contain one track that the other does not.

US CD release[edit]

All tracks are written by The Flaming Lips.

No.TitleLength
1."Race for the Prize" (Mokran remix)4:09
2."A Spoonful Weighs a Ton"3:32
3."The Spark That Bled"5:55
4."The Spiderbite Song"4:02
5."Buggin'" (Mokran remix)3:16
6."What Is the Light?"4:05
7."The Observer"4:11
8."Waitin' for a Superman"4:17
9."Suddenly Everything Has Changed"3:54
10."The Gash"4:02
11."Feeling Yourself Disintegrate"5:17
12."Sleeping on the Roof"3:09
13."Race for the Prize"4:18
14."Waitin' for a Superman" (Mokran remix)4:19
Total length:58:26

The worldwide digital edition uses the US track listing but switches the versions of "Race for the Prize" (track 1 and 13).[27]

UK and Australian CD release[edit]

No.TitleLength
1."Race for the Prize"4:18
2."A Spoonful Weighs a Ton"3:32
3."The Spark That Bled"5:55
4."Slow Motion"3:53
5."What Is the Light?"4:05
6."The Observer"4:10
7."Waitin' for a Superman"4:17
8."Suddenly Everything Has Changed"3:54
9."The Gash"4:02
10."Feeling Yourself Disintegrate"5:17
11."Sleeping on the Roof"3:09
12."Race for the Prize" (Mokran remix)4:09
13."Waitin' for a Superman" (Mokran remix)4:19
14."Buggin'" (Mokran remix)3:16

Vinyl release[edit]

Side One
No.TitleLength
1."Race for the Prize" 
2."A Spoonful Weighs a Ton" 
3."The Spark That Bled" 
4."The Spiderbite Song" 
Side Two
No.TitleLength
5."Buggin'" 
6."What Is the Light?" 
7."The Observer" 
Side Three
No.TitleLength
8."Waitin' for a Superman" 
9."Suddenly Everything Has Changed" 
10."The Gash" 
Side Four
No.TitleLength
11."Slow Motion" 
12."Feeling Yourself Disintegrate" 
13."Sleeping on the Roof" 

The Soft Bulletin 5.1[edit]

On January 31, 2006, Warner Bros. re-released The Soft Bulletin in the US as a two-disc package titled The Soft Bulletin 5.1. It includes a remastered CD and a DVD-Audio disc that contains a 5.1-channel surround sound mix of the album.

Package content[edit]

CD and DVD[edit]

  1. "Race for the Prize" – 4:18
  2. "A Spoonful Weighs a Ton" – 3:32
  3. "The Spark That Bled" – 5:55
  4. "Slow Motion" – 3:49
  5. "What Is the Light?" – 4:05
  6. "The Observer" – 4:11
  7. "Waitin' for a Superman" – 4:17
  8. "Suddenly Everything Has Changed" – 3:54
  9. "The Gash" – 4:02
  10. "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate" – 5:23
  11. "Sleeping on the Roof" – 3:04
  12. "The Spiderbite Song" – 4:02
  13. "Buggin'" – 3:22

DVD videos[edit]

  1. "Race for the Prize" – 4:26
  2. "Waitin' for a Superman" – 4:39

DVD outtakes[edit]

  1. "1000 Ft. Hands" – 5:50
  2. "The Captain Is a Cold Hearted and Egotistical Fool" – 5:14
  3. "Satellite of You" – 4:32

DVD radio sessions[edit]

  1. "Up Above the Daily Hum" – 4:38
  2. "The Switch That Turns Off the Universe" – 7:54
  3. "We Can't Predict the Future" – 3:04
  4. "It Remained Unrealizable" – 8:34
  • The 5.1 package has the UK track list with the remixes at the end removed. They were replaced with "The Spiderbite Song" and the original mix of "Buggin'" which had previously only seen release on a US promotional CD.
  • This package marks the first time that US consumers have been able to get "Slow Motion" on CD, as this had previously only been available on the UK CD and the US vinyl releases.

Packaging error[edit]

The first pressings of The Soft Bulletin 5.1 were erroneously shipped with an original US CD instead of the new remastered CD with the revised track list. The band offered to replace the incorrect CD with the new version for anyone who received the wrong CD in their package. In addition, many people who sent their incorrect CDs in for replacement also received a handwritten letter of apology from the band's bassist, Michael Ivins. Warner Bros. has since fixed this problem.[28]

Personnel[edit]

The Flaming Lips

Production

  • The Flaming Lips – production, mix, recording
  • Dave Fridmann – production, mix, recording
  • Michael Ivins – additional engineering
  • Scott Booker – production
  • Steve Hall – mastering (at Future Disc Systems)

Remixes

  • Peter Mokran – additional production & mix
  • Scott Bennett – additional bass on "Waitin' for a Superman (Remix)"

Packaging

  • Lawrence Schiller – cover photograph
  • George Salisbury – layout & design

References[edit]

  1. ^ Terich, Jeff (July 2, 2015). "10 Essential Neo-Psychedelia Albums". Treble. Retrieved November 6, 2021.
  2. ^ Hughes, Rob; Dome, Malcolm (October 9, 2018). "16 of the Best Psychedelic Rock Albums Ever". Classic Rock. Retrieved November 6, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Ankeny, Jason. "The Soft Bulletin – The Flaming Lips". AllMusic. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
  4. ^ Terich, Jeff (April 5, 2012). "10 Essential Dream Pop Albums". Treble. Retrieved November 6, 2021.
  5. ^ "The Flaming Lips official site, Soft Bulletin album notes". flaminglips.com. Archived from the original on June 8, 2003.
  6. ^ "Mojo Pie Artist of the Week thread, April 17, 2005". ipbhost.com. Archived from the original on July 2, 2007.
  7. ^ Masley, Ed (December 31, 1999). "The Best of 1999/Pop CDs". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved November 6, 2021.
  8. ^ "The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin - Pitchfork Classic". YouTube. February 27, 2013. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  9. ^ Pattison, Louis (June 25, 2011). "The beatnik and the 'Bulletin: The Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin sleeve". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  10. ^ "Can any law keep the awesome drug away from reckless hands?". Life. Vol. 60 no. 12. Time Inc. March 25, 1966. p. 32. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  11. ^ "Reviews for The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips". Metacritic. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  12. ^ Weingarten, Marc (July 9, 1999). "The Soft Bulletin". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  13. ^ Cox, Tom (May 14, 1999). "Mouthwateringly soft". The Guardian.
  14. ^ "The Flaming Lips: The Soft Bulletin". Melody Maker: 36. May 15, 1999.
  15. ^ Oldham, James (May 6, 1999). "The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin". NME. Archived from the original on August 17, 2000. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
  16. ^ Josephes, Jason (July 1999). "The Flaming Lips: The Soft Bulletin". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on October 10, 2004. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
  17. ^ Berger, Arion (May 27, 1999). "The Soft Bulletin". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  18. ^ Kot, Greg (2004). "The Flaming Lips". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 300. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  19. ^ Hoskyns, Barney (July 1999). "The Flaming Lips: The Soft Bulletin". Spin. 15 (7): 126–27. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (February 1, 2000). "Happy You Near". The Village Voice. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
  21. ^ "Soft Bulletin 5.1 - The Flaming Lips". Amazon.
  22. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (March 23, 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  23. ^ "Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork. November 17, 2003. p. 10. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
  24. ^ "Acclaimed Music". www.acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  25. ^ "The Flaming Lips performing The Soft Bulletin + Dinosaur Jr perform Bug + Deerhoof perform Milk Man - All Tomorrow's Parties". Atpfestival.com. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
  26. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (August 3, 2002). "Flaming Lips' New Warner Set Reminds Us To Live For The Now". Billboard. Vol. 114 no. 31. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 11. Retrieved November 6, 2021.
  27. ^ "The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips". Apple Music. 17 May 1999.
  28. ^ "Dave Fridmann/Tarbox News/Notes". www.davefridmann.com. Archived from the original on August 8, 2019.