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Spacemen 3 'Playing With Fire'

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Quick Overview

Every once in a while a record comes along that somehow manages to define an era. In the late 80's there can be no doubt that one such record was released - and that record was "Playing With Fire" by Spacemen 3. Fuelled by narcotic indulgence and an overwhelming sense of darkness it was rightly hailed as a classic at the time and is still considered to be one of the greatest albums of the time by many today. Its mesmerising beauty and sublime originality are still recognised as a genuine triumph to this day.

When "Playing With Fire" was released in February 1989, the creative abilities of Sonic Boom (aka Pete Kember) and Jason Pierce were at their peak - all but gone were their earlier homage's to The Stooges and MC5, replaced by a graceful, blissed-out beauty which had writers everywhere clamouring for their dictionaries. Only on the insurrectionist's clarion call of "Revolution" and the Vega/Rev tribute "Suicide" did they allow the guitar assaults to cut loose, instead they used gentle waves of sound to produce the same effect; powerful, emotive and yet somehow also genuinely disturbing.

By this time, Spacemen 3's use of drugs had become notorious (a major factor in their eventual demise) and they seemed to be trying to achieve that same (almost religious) high within their music, strangely foreseeing the dance explosion which was to happen shortly after.

Now, Space Age Recordings are making this legendary record available again, complete with live versions of "Suicide" and "Repeater" and recordings of "Che" and "May The Circle Be Unbroken". Not only that but they've also included a second CD full of studio out-takes and demos, including the Spacemen 3 version of "Any Way That You Want Me" - the song which went on to become Spiritualized's debut single.

Producers: Jason Pierce, Pete "Sonic Boom" Kember. For the majority of its six-year career, of which 1988's PLAYING WITH FIRE is the approximate midpoint, the British trio Spacemen 3 pursued its sound-for-sound's-sake obsessions in near-total oblivion. It turns out, however, that the band was merely a decade or so ahead of its time. Spacemen 3 featured guitarists/keyboardists Pete "Sonic Boom" Kember and Jason "Spaceman" Pierce, who later formed Spectrum and Spiritualized, respectively. The commercially and critically successful '90s work of these two sonic iconoclasts earned much more interest than the material of Spacemen 3 did during its 1985-1991 lifespan. The band's third full-length studio album, PLAYING WITH FIRE finds the band moving beyond its earlier, somewhat more song-oriented work into more abstract and improvisational areas. The highlight is the corrosive "Suicide," one of the band's most visceral works.

Editorial reviews
...their biggest album at the time....Sonic Boom's avant aesthetic tempered {jason] Pierce's tendency towards drippy songforms, and the latter had a strong line in beautiful, melancholy melodies and lyrics...
The Wire (08/01/1999)

...[Spacemen 3] at their most confidently minimal and succinct....plenty of nape-tingling moments...
Mojo (07/01/1999)


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Disc One
1. Honey
2. Come Down Softly To My Soul
3. How Does It Feel?
4. I Believe It
5. Revolution
6. Let Me Down Gently
7. So Hot (Wash Away All Of My Tears)
8. Suicide
9. Lord Can You Hear Me?
10. Suicide (Live)
11. Repeater (How Does It Feel?) (Live)
12. Che
13. May The Circle Be Unbroken

Disc Two
1. Honey (Demo)
2. Let Me Down Gently (Drum Mix)
3. How Does it Feel? (Alternate Version)
4. Suicide (Demo Vocal)
5. Lord Can You Hear Me? (Demo Vocal)
6. I Believe It (Alternate Mix)
7. Che (Maracas Mix)
8. Any Way That You Want Me (Demo)
9. Girl On Fire (Demo)