Review Revue: The Legendary Pink Dots - The Maria Dimension

All right class, now we’re going to play a little memory game here on Review Revue. Remember when we discussed Robyn Hitchcock’s Eye, and one of the stickers made a joke about a green sticker on the record? (“Is this a Legendary Pink Dot?” “No, it’s green.”) As hilarious as that was, there was apparently more to the story, as our friend Damon Creed -- who is as much of a commenter today on the blog as he was back then on the record covers -- implied that I should “follow the clue” to the Legendary Pink Dots, and that I would be “amply rewarded” with material. Well, he was right!

LPD are another band that released several albums during the heyday of KCMU album-cover-reviewing (10 albums between 1981 and 1991, and at least that many more since then), and there were quite a few well-discussed albums to sort through. So much so, in fact, that if Damon was referring to a specific album, well, I couldn’t figure out which one. So instead I picked the one with some of the most intense discussion on it -- to wit, The Maria Dimension, which appears to have been somewhat controversial among the staff here at the station. I’m sure I don’t know why: I’m listening to it right now, and the first song is five and a half minutes long, with one droning riff, featuring jaw harp, saxophone, precious psychedelic vocals, and swirling guitars and synthesizers. What’s not to love?

  “Yep, it’s the Pink Dots serving up a batch of their fragile + delicate melodies. Seems a little incomplete to me, though.”"Yeah, not so hot but still OK.”

“What he said.”

“Since I’ve never appreciated this band and the two comments prior are luke-warm, how do you think I feel about this?”

“Why does KCMU have such a hard-on about this group?”

“Down, down, down”

“Everyone has a hard-on about this band because they’re great. This isn’t their best on the first few listens, but let it sink in some more.”

“Fuck you all!” [Now that's constructive criticism!]

“Second rate Current 93.”

“Evolution is swell.”

“Never thought I’d live to see the day an LPD LP would get so thoroughly dissed @ KCMU. [Side note: When did people start saying "dissed" in common parlance? This is 1991, seems like the bleeding edge of slang for that time to me, but I have no idea what I'm talking about, of course.] What did Edward ever do to y’all to make you so mean-spirited towards him? Yes, this is real low key, but I like it. Ah well... down it goes.”

“PLEASE GET THE CD VERSION!!”

“Hmmm, I dunno...”

“I’ve never really been one for Ed-Ka-Spel’s lisping, precious little tunes. This is no exception. This should not be in H!”

“To hear this release in this format is an absolute travesty. The CD version clocks in at 75 mins and if we had that version it would definitely still merit H. To dismiss this as second rate C93 is the same as dismissing the Feelies’ latest as second rate Velvet Underground. The LPDs have created a body of work most bands can barely compare to. In that work, they’ve staked out a unique sound and lyrical content not matched by many bands. As such they’ve become a lasting testimony to the roots that this station is built upon. They’ve continued evolving, maintaining 100% integrity and challenging musicianship that cannot be denied. It seems that many of you have a bit of homework in front of you.”

“And that,” Creed might have added, “is why this station has such a hard-on for this band. So suck it!” Here’s to doing your homework!

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3 Comments

  1. Matt
    Posted January 8, 2009 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    “The LPDs have created a body of work most bands can barely compare to. In that work, they’ve staked out a unique sound and lyrical content not matched by many bands. As such they’ve become a lasting testimony to the roots that this station is built upon. They’ve continued evolving, maintaining 100% integrity and challenging musicianship that cannot be denied. It seems that many of you have a bit of homework in front of you.” - i just wanted to chime in and say this explains alot about the band and was a great commentary on why they are worth a listen to in the first place. I didn’t like LPD at all as a first reaction but six years later I am a huge endearing fan and they are up there in my mind with bands like The Beatles. What’s really unfortunate is that this band wields some pretty memorable and fantastic melodies that deserve to be heard by everyone yet hardly anyone knows of them. Not everything they do is gold, by far, but you could gather over 50 “greatest hits” from this band and it would rival the catalogue of any well-respected rock or experimental band over the last century.

  2. Damon Creed
    Posted January 10, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, bit of cranky comment there regarding LPD’s ‘body of work.’ Nonetheless, as valid now as it was then.

    The Legendary Pink Dots soldier on into 2009, their most recent release being 2008′s “Plutonium Blonde.” They’ve continued to add to their body of work following their own path and inviting anybody along who cares to see where their musical travels take them. They last visited Seattle just a few months ago in October 2008 at El Corazon. They’ve played most venues of note in Seattle since Edward Ka-Spel’s first solo performance in Seattle at the Rainbow Tavern in the U.Dist. And that was back in 1986!

    One of the perks of being a KCMU staffer was getting one of the five spots on the staff guest list for KCMU welcomed shows. KCMU staffers would practically race to the station on the day the station’s staff guest list would open up for free tix to the next LPD concert, their popularity being so great with the staff. Fisticuffs may’ve almost broken out but my recollection is not too clear on that point.

    In addition to the great number of LPD albums there’s almost an equally deep reservoir of Edward Ka-Spel’s solo albums. Dig in there too.

    If you’re a fan of under the radar musical groups and haven’t yet stumbled into LPD, what are you waiting for? They offer something for music buffs of all stripes. Give ‘em a try.

  3. frank patten
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    (Hank’s International House of Noise changed my life.)

    I missed The Maria Dimension when it came out, I walked into the Dots backwards, through Edward’s Hotel X on the Third Mind compilation and on Tear Garden’s Tired Eyes Slowly Burning.

    I saw Edward or the Dots in SF about three times 2002/4-ish. I like the second vinyl album of the Tanith and the Lion Tree set. it has all of Edwards’s WTC stuff from 2001.

    every year or so, I google “Hank’s International House of Noise” to see what my pal and hero Damon Creed is up to. thanks, Damon

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