For All The Fucked Up Children Of The World We Give You Spacemen 3, is a hell of an LP title, but Spacemen 3 were one hell of a band. Their late 80’s indie take on drugged-out, burnt-up, dead-eyed psychedelia was a wonderful bludgeoning gift, before their inevitable flame out.
This is where it all began though. I don’t mean this is their debut LP, or even their first demos, For All The* is a recording of literally their first ever recording session in their home town of Rugby**. It’s dang good too, suffused with echoes of their hurtling narcotic future and a surprising amount of the primitive raw blues and gospel touches in their DNA.
This incarnation of Spacemen 3 consisted of Jason Pierce, Sonic Boom^ and drummer called Gnatty. The sound is therefore two distorted electric guitars and drums, with occasional harmonica and tambourine.
For All The was first released in 1995, when I was as yet 22 years too uncool to grok it and so I snagged the clear vinyl version that was released for RSD 2017 as a limited edition of 1000, like the sheep that I truly am. Plus I’ve never been able to resist a good sweary title.
The band weren’t yet blasting out a VU-inspired minimalist wall of noise and so hearing the likes of ‘Things’ll Never Be The Same’ as a wiry belligerent blues shuffle is educational. I’ve always been a sucker for that whole love/heroin metaphor in any case, you can’t beat a bit of vicarious living dangerously; I find it easier on my middle-class sensibilities.
Speaking of which, the waiting-for-a-fix-tastic ‘2:35’, is as close as Spacemen 3 get to a perfect fusion of the Stooges and the Seeds on For All The. Jason Pierce sneering the words like he really can’t be arsed enunciating them properly whilst laying down a mean backing shuffle over which Sonic Boom detonates seemingly random chords. It’s great.
If you dig the magic combo of slide guitar, skeletal song structure and gratuitous mentions of our saviour’s name, then you’ll really dig ‘Walkin’ With Jesus’. This version is far superior than any of the other recorded versions I’ve caught and a groovier, more doomed outlook on sin it’s be hard to imagine:
So listen sweet lord forgive me of my sins
Cause I can’t stand this life without all of these things
I know I’ve done wrong but I’m in heaven on earth
I know I’ve done wrong but I could have done you worse
Jesus please meet me at the center of the earth
Because these wings are gonna fail me
And I could’ve done you worse.
It carries a whiff of brimstone straight out of the Robert Johnson songbook.
Glossing over ‘Fixin To Die’, which sounds not unlike Exile-era Stones busking disinterestedly/Jonesing on a windy corner, we get a big, umm, hit from ‘TV Catastrophe’. This is the track where we get to see the big chromium future for Spacemen 3 spinning erratically out into the void like a fucked-up satellite. This is the one where they really break out the guitars and Mr S. Boom shows us what he’s got in his arsenal; quite a lot as it happens. It’s a wonderful instrumental full of snarl, drone, distortion and space, ugly chords piling on top of each other to great effect and some whooshy atmospherics at the end. Top dollar^*.
The band obviously thought so too. ‘TV Catastrophe’ got dragged out and amped up with some extra-tricity two years later on debut LP ‘Sound of Confusion’. Spacemen 3 contrived some lyrics based on their leisure activities and relaunched it as ‘O.D Catastrophe’.
For All The is rounded out by two alternate mixes of ‘Things’ll Never Be The Same’ and ‘Walkin’ With Jesus’. They both sound a bit more assertive, a little more like the Cramps and the Gun Club, but they aren’t essential.
This LP is an early pointer towards some of the visceral, ugly, beautiful thrills that Spacemen 3 doled out; after all this is the band who released an album called (very accurately) Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To. The various shoegazers planed off some of the rougher edges of their later sound and robbed some of their sound and with Spiritualized Jason Pierce eventually got to follow his space gospel muse elsewhere. For All The remains the wellspring of it all though and is worth exploring as much as it is a damned good listen, as for historical reasons. Dig it.
PS: On a psychedelic whim I started up ‘O.D Catastrophe’ in three separate windows slightly out of phase with each other. Hey presto – the sound of drugs without any of the probable inconvenience.
*shortened for reasons of decency and finger fatigue.
**originating place of the sport of sports.
^billed here as ‘The Mainliner’, which may be a top-secret covert drugs reference, but known to his mother as Peter Kember.
^*even if it is a bit of a ‘TV Eye’ rip off.