Music To Shoot Down UFOs To
Happy Valentine's to those that celebrate. Penguin Pete wants you all to know that you are all my precious cosmic blueberries; I'm proud of you for hanging onto the bumpy ride aboard spaceship Earth.
If you pity yourself for lacking a valentine, spare a thought for those poor blighters without a groundhog on Groundhog's Day. (B_Dum_Tsss.wav) Dear diary, it's been a busy start to 2023 so far, with the unexpected plot twist of a replay of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but with UFOs. As we know, that's not aliens, but "unidentified flying objects" which our air force is shooting down like the generation that trained on Space Invaders and flight simulators they are. We of course have the Chinese balloon incident recently passed, from which the media stirred a bit of strained national relations. So these other invasive foreign aircraft are coming in, not to point any fingers or anything, from an "unknown" source.
In the midst of this chaos, we have had back-to-back Grammy Awards and Sportsball (Stupidbowl) weekends we were supposed to get excited about. And you know what? People who want to read what everybody wore to the red carpet or astroturf should be reading Rolling Stone right now. We like blowing up UFOs right now, no offense to the band of the same name.
How about we make a space-themed playlist? Not silly jokes like a Star Trek soundtrack or solemn Parliament / Funkadelic collection. We covered them last time. We have to remember, the movie playing out in the skies overhead only involves near-space, stratosphere levels at most. For flying F-22s shooting down UFOs that just might be Chinese spy balloons (they'll never live it down!), we need something on the spectrum between "Danger Zone" and whatever shifts it into a higher gear. But with UFOs. But not into David Bowie territory this time, because, seriously, you hear plenty about Bowie around here already.
"Space Truckin'" - Deep Purple
Yes, I know I used this in my former space rock post, but what can you do? Deep Purple seemed to go through a phase where they really wanted to produce a soundtrack for a sci-fi flick, but apparently the agent calls never matched up, so they'd just resignedly dump out one exceptional album after another.
Space Ritual (entire album) - Hawkwind
Hawkwind should be the first name you think of for classic space rock. Their progressive, psychedelic sound is like the British answer to Sun Ra, but far more accessible to novice listeners. The whole album is just one beautiful cosmic trip. You may need to smoke something inspiration just to achieve the proper orbit!
"Spaceball Ricochet" - Marc Bolan and his band T. Rex
This song plays like a lost David Bowie track, but filtered through Bolan's classic glam rock style. Bolan was another artist who seemed preoccupied with space - see also "Ballrooms of Mars," also from his The Slider album. Johnny Marr of The Smiths calls this one of his favorite albums. And for a bit of bonus trivia, the photographs on the album cover are credited to Ringo Starr.
"Interstellar Overdrive" - Pink Floyd
You knew we couldn't have a space rock list without Pink Floyd getting in here! This is a lengthy instrumental that feels like it tells the entire story of an outer space excursion. You can fell it "change gears" to free jazz and back, as if we have endured warp speed at some point. Vintage Floyd.
"Third Stone From The Sun" - Jimi Hendrix
Another instrumental track (notice how often this happens in space rock?) from the legendary Purple Haze himself. Hendrix was another rocker who was interested in science fiction. Hendrix's manager at the time, Chas Chandler, recalled in interview:
> "I had dozens of science fiction books at home... The first one Jimi read was Earth Abides. It wasn't a Flash Gordon type, it's an end-of-the-world, new beginning, disaster-type story. He started reading through them all. That where 'Third Stone from the Sun' and 'Up from the Skies' came from."
"Space Junk" - Devo
Yes, we will never be done yelling about Devo. This is from their legendary Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! album, produced by the legendary Brian Eno. The rest of the album is not particularly space-themed, but Devo is spacey enough that they can easily build a playlist for your galactic exploration.
"Inca Roads" - Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention
Likewise, when I stop raving about Frank Zappa, check my pulse because I'm probably maggot chow. This song is off their play-it-straight-through-with-no-skipping One Size Fits All album, the final studio release as the Mother of Invention (though Zappa & company would continue to record and perform under Zappa's own solo billing). "Inca Roads" examines the phenomenon of the famed Inca civilization, which is another case where a prior civilization was supposed to be so advanced that they must have had flying saucers assist them. Nevertheless, the song eventually degenerates into the typical Zappa trope of playing with time signatures and restating the song until it turns into playful gibberish.
Space, the Final Front Ear!