Four years in Tulsa meant endless red, dusty sunsets for my eyes. The wind blew hard across the open plains, hard enough to distract me from the "Creem" and "Hit Parader" punk-rock stylings floating upward from Oklahoma City's Flaming Lips, just two hours south. Thankfully, a 1987 live show -- complete with Led Zeppelin covers -- saved me from a lifetime of Lipslessness.
The CD "1984-1990" is a thoughtful collection of their indie-label years when the Lips naively fused a hickish enthusiasm for classic rock with '80s hardcore-punk gusto. Liner notes from founding member Wayne Coyne detail their amateurish yet intuitive approach to writing and recording. "Chrome Plated Suicide" boasts a chord progression intentionally close to "Sweet Child O' Mine." The here-and-gone snippets of orchestration and random radio broadcasts in "Hell's Angels Cracker Factory" seem as avant garde as angelic. Lips enthusiasts will appreciate the selection of covers -- including Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" -- previously found only on odd singles and benefit compilations.