The Perfect Prescription

Front and back of the original Glass LP (pictures from Discogs) and of the Fire CD
Front and back of the Genius LP, and front of the Genius Purple Pyramid LP, with detail on the sticker (pictures from Discogs)
Front, inlay and back of the purple, silver, orange and gold Genius CD issues, and the “50th Anniversary” sticker on a gold edition
Front, inlays, and both sides of the back of the Taang! CD issue
Glass, Genius and Fire cassette inlays

Personnel
Sonic Boom – guitar ◦ tremolo ◦ organ ◦ vocals
Jason – guitar ◦ organ ◦ farfisa ◦ vocals
Bassman – bass vibrations

Releases and Tracklistings
Released on Glass Records, September 1987. LP (GLALP026).

  1. Take Me To The Other Side (Kember/Pierce)
  2. Walkin’ With Jesus (Kember/Pierce)
  3. Ode To Street Hassle (Kember/Pierce)
  4. Ecstasy Symphony (Kember/Pierce)
  5. Transparent Radiation (flashback) (Thompson/Cunningham/Barthelm)
  6. Feel So Good (Kember/Pierce)
  7. Things’ll Never Be The Same (Kember/Pierce)
  8. Come Down Easy (Kember/Pierce)
  9. Call The Doctor (Kember/Pierce)

The Glass cassette (GLAMC026), issued simultaneously, consisted of the album on side one, and extra tracks on side two:

  1. O.D. Catastrophe (Kember/Pierce)
  2. Rollercoaster (Hall/Erikson)
  3. Feel So Good (Kember/Pierce)
  4. Starship (MC5/Sun Ra)

10 is from Sound Of Confusion. 11 – 12 are from the Walkin’ With Jesus 12″. 13 is from the Transparent Radiation 12″.

Issued on Genius records, 1988, on LP (geniLP001), CD (geniCD001) and MC (geniMC001). The LP and MC issues have the same tracklisting as their respective Glass editions, while the CD adds:

  1. Rollercoaster (Hall/Erikson)
  2. Starship (MC5/Sun Ra)

10 is from the Walkin’ With Jesus 12″, and fades out at the point where it would crossfade to ‘Feel So Good’. 11 is from the Transparent Radiation 12″, and runs for more than twice the length that the sleeve would have you believe.

Reissued on Fire Records, November 1989. LP (REFIRE 6), some with photographic inner sheet. CD (REFIRE CD6). MC (REFIRE MC6). All have the same trackist as the Glass LP, with the CD and MC adding:

  1. Soul 1 (Kember/Pierce)
  2. That’s Just Fine (Kember/Pierce)

10 – 11 are from the Take Me To The Other Side 12″.

Various other vinyl issues on Fire, some on 180 gram vinyl, some on white vinyl, some on blue vinyl, and with catalogue number changed to FIRE016, SFIRE016. Various other CD issues on Fire, with either jewel case or gatefold card sleeves, and with catalogue number changed to SFIRE016CD, SFIRE016CDE.

The Genius LP was reissued in 1990 on purple vinyl in a plain back sleeve with a sticker procaliming it to be a “Limited Edition Purple Pyramid Vinyl” edition.

The Genius CD was reissued in 1995 in several editions that differ only in the colours on the sleeve, with circles that are either orange, silver or gold. Some copies were also packaged with a sticker on the shrink wrap claiming that they were “50th Anniversary” editions, although the 50th anniversary of what is unclear (certainly not of the album, which was only eight years old at this point). The contents of all of these is identical to that of the original Genius CD, although the colours on the discs reflect that of the circles on the cover.

Reissued by Taang! Records, February 1996. CD (TAANG!94). Tracklist as the original Glass release, plus:

  1. Soul 1 (Kember/Pierce)
  2. That’s Just Fine (Kember/Pierce)
  3. Starship (MC5/Sun Ra)
  4. Live Intro Theme (Xtacy) (Kember/Pierce)

10 – 11 are from the Take Me To The Other Side 12″. 12 is from Performance. 13 is the version previously released on Dreamweapon.

Other Info
Recorded at V.H.F. in Rugby by Graham Walker. Produced and arranged by Sonic & Jason. Sleeve design by Spacemen 3. Photogrpahy by Craig Wagstaff & Greg Freeman. Percussion by Rosco. Saxophones by Alex Green. Trumpet by Mick Manning. Violins by Owen John.

The second Spacemen 3 LP was recorded over a period of around six months at VHF studios. The studio was planning to upgrade from a 8 to 16 track desk, which the Spacemen contributed £3,000 towards in exchange for free studio time. It is possible that VHF didn’t realise quite how much time they would take in exchange.

Many tracks were recorded over many takes, some differing only slightly, some of which amount to significantly different versions. Some of these first emerged on a bootleg known as the Out Of It sessions, and many more have been officially released as Forged Prescriptions.

Rosco’s billing with the extra musicians seems a bit tough considering he was a full member of the band at this point, although there aren’t many drums on the recordings that made their way to the final album.

Some CD copies have ‘Ecstasy Symphony’ and ‘Transparent Radiation (flashback)’ as one long track, while others separate them, which plays havoc with attempts to synchronise the tracks with players that download tracklistings from the internet.

Reviews

Reviews of the original release from the NME, Melody Maker, Sounds, Hot Press, CMJ, Rockpool, Forced Exposure, Spex (Germany), TNT (Germany), and of the 1989 reissue from the NME and Melody Maker.
Text of Spex review

Es ist spat, sehr spat, hie rim großen neuen SPEX-Büro an der Aachener Straße sitze ich. Das Freitagnacht-Leben geht unten vor meinen Augen zu Ende.  Ergriffen blättere ich in der 11/84, Rainald Goetz über Hanoi Rocks, ich selbst über Cecil Taylor, Gerald Hündgen über Gun Club, Alf Burchardt über Sisters Of Mercy, ein paar Zeilen Asger Jorn, ein Brief aus der DDR. Mir fällt Shakespeare ein, “Julius Caesar”, eigentlich die einzige Geschichte der Welt, bei der ich nie wußte, für wen ich sein sollte. Heute ist alles klar: für Caesar natürlich. Ich… ich glaube wirklich, eine Eigenschaft von Velvet Underground ist nie richtig gelobt worden:diese Fähigkeit, völlige Ruhe, absolute bettschwere Ruhe im Studio einkehren zu lassen, und dann ganz leise, so daß man es knarren hört, die Gitarre auszupacken und den Mund aufzusperren, und dann behutsam die Kinder (die Worte) freizulassen und sich dabei so unerträglich langsam zu steigern, wie man es bei den allerschwierigsten Gymnastikübungen tun muß. Nun gut, dies ist also eine echte LP der Spacemen 3 mit vielen Stücken, darunter auch dreien, die in anderer Form schon auf z.T. als LP gewürdigten Singles drauf waren, und nur noch einer S3-typischen Abstrakt-Fuzz-Übung, und sie nimmt sich dismal das Immer-wie-der-geboren-Werden der mittleren Velvet Underground vor. Um zu verstehen, wie groß und schön das ist, muß es spat sein und Du mußt spat sein. Es ist absoluter Twilight-Zone-Luxus: draußen ist die komische Nachtleben-Welt angehalten worden, damit sich hier drinnen diese Typen drei Minuten Zeit nehmen können, um den Schlagzeuger rauszuschicken und dann mal mit den ersten Gitarrentönen anzufangen. Was dann als Singen auftritt ist SPRECHEN… und zwar direct ins Ohr. Von Tier zu Tier. Jetzt darf draußen ein netter Alkoholiker vorbeischlendern. Er ist ein bezahlter Ballettänzer, den ich mir zur Illustration der “Ecstasy Suite” habe kommen lassen. Dies ist kosmisch, Mann, Charlie, Du bist nicht experienced, Eric, Du verstehst es nicht. Und ich bin so traurig, wenn ich denke, daß Lux Interior tot ist. Ich hätte viel trauriger sein sollen, als Andy Warhol tot war, aber ich bin so traurig, wenn ich denke, daß Lux Interior tot ist. Aber da: erstes Morgenlicht. Es war eine Falschmeldung. Lux lebt.

Translation of Spex review

It’s late, very late, I’m sitting here in the large, new SPEX office on Aachener Strasse. Friday night life comes to an end before my eyes. Moved, I leaf through 11/84, Rainald Goetz about Hanoi Rocks, myself about Cecil Taylor, Gerald Hündgen about Gun Club, Alf Burchardt about Sisters Of Mercy, a few lines from Asger Jorn, a letter from the GDR. I remember Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”, actually the only story in the world that I never knew who to be with. Today everything is clear: for Caesar of course. I … I really think there is one quality of Velvet Underground that has never really been praised: the ability to let total calm, absolute bed-heavy quiet return to the studio, and then very quietly, so that you can hear it creak, unpack your guitar and your mouth to unlock, and then carefully to release the children (the words) and to increase as unbearably slowly as one has to do with the most difficult gymnastics exercises. Well, this is a real LP from Spacemen 3 with a lot of tracks, including three that have already been on it in a different form on singles that are partly recognized as LPs, and just one more abstract fuzz exercise typical of S3, and she takes This time the being-born again and again of the middle Velvet Underground. To understand how big and beautiful it is, it has to be late and you have to be late. It’s absolute Twilight Zone luxury: outside the weird nightlife world has been paused so that these guys in here can take three minutes to send the drummer out and then start playing the first guitar notes. What then appears as singing is SPEAKING … and directly into the ear. From animal to animal. Now a nice alcoholic is allowed to stroll by outside. He is a paid ballet dancer whom I asked to illustrate the “Ecstasy Suite”. This is cosmic, man, Charlie, you’re not experienced, Eric, you don’t get it. And I’m so sad when I think Lux Interior is dead. I should have been a lot sadder when Andy Warhol was dead, but I’m so sad when I think Lux Interior is dead. But there: first morning light. It was a hoax. Lux is alive.

Text of TNT review

Nur noch zwei Songs von “The Perfect Prescription”, der zweiten LP des britischen Quartetts SPACEMEN 3, sin dim Endlos-Fuzz-Stil ihrer (sehr empfehlenswerten) Debut-LP “Sound Of Confusion” gehalten. Nach wie vor allerdings verzichtet die Band um die beiden Sängergitarristen Sonic Boom (vormals Peter Gunn genannt) und Jason fast vollkommen auf rhythmische Untermalung ihrer Songs.

Eine Einorfnung in die Kategorie “Erbe der frühen Stooges” erlaubt “The Perfect Prescription” nicht mehr. Wo auf dem Debut eine gnadenlose Feedback-/Fuzztone-Wall Of Sound etwaige Feinheiten unter sich begräbt, stehen jetzt strukturierte, aber fragile Klanggebilde, reduziert auf Farfisa-Orgel und unverzerrte (gelegentlich aukustische) Gitarren. Auf “Transparent Radiation”, einem Red Crayola-Cover, das in erweiterter Fassung schon auf einer der LP vorangegangenen Maxi zu finden ist, kann man eine Violine hören.

“The Perfect Prescription” legt über weite Strecken Vergleiche zur dritten V.U.-LP oder zum Frühwerk Kevin Ayers nahe. Doch scheinen SPACEMEN 3 dem Konzept ihrer ersten LP noch lang nicht abgeschworen zu haben: Auf der Rückseite erwähnter “Transparent Radiation”-Maxi findet sich eine 11 minütige Instrumentalversion des MC5/Sun Ra-Lkassikers “Starship”, unstrukturierter Feedbacklärm, der weit über das auf der Debut-LP gebotene hinausgeht.

Translation of TNT review

Only two songs left from “The Perfect Prescription”, the second LP by the British quartet SPACEMEN 3, are in the endless fuzz style of their (highly recommended) debut LP “Sound Of Confusion”. As before, however, the band around the two singer-guitarists Sonic Boom (formerly called Peter Gunn) and Jason almost completely dispenses with rhythmic background music to their songs.

“The Perfect Prescription” no longer allows classification in the “legacy of the early Stooges” category. Where on the debut a merciless feedback/fuzztone wall of sound buries possible subtleties, there are now structured but fragile sound structures, reduced to a Farfisa organ and undistorted (occasionally acoustic) guitars. A violin can be heard on “Transparent Radiation”, a Red Crayola cover, which can already be found in an extended version on a maxi that preceded the LP.

“The Perfect Prescription” suggests comparisons to the third V.U.-LP or to Kevin Ayer’s early work. But SPACEMEN 3 doesn’t seem to have renounced the concept of their first LP for a long time: On the back of the “Transparent Radiation” -maxi there is an 11-minute instrumental version of the MC5/Sun Ra classic “Starship”, unstructured feedback noise that goes far beyond that on the debut LP.

Other Pictures

Cassette with unfinished versions, showing that the album artwork was completed well ahead of the album itself

My Take
I am not going to be able to write anything objective about The Perfect Prescription. It is my favourite album, not just by Spacemen 3, but by anyone.

Join the conversation

3 Comments

  1. “Starship” on the Taang release is actually the Performance/Threebie version, notwithstanding the liner notes claiming it’s the long version (a reverse of the Genius situation)

  2. This album never ages or bores me. Definitely one of my most played albums of all time. Discovered S3, like a lot of people, after playing with fire but as much as I love PWF this is the S3 at their finest. Great web site btw, getting lost in it. It’s making me tempted to spend a small fortune on the German version of recurring just so I get when tomorrow hits on vinyl!!

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