Spacemen 3

By Marilyn Roxie

WHEN: 1982 – 1991

CULPRITS: Jason Pierce/J. Spaceman (guitar, vocals), Peter Kember/Sonic Boom (vocals, guitar), Pete Bain/Bassman (bass, 1982-88), Nicholas Brooker/Natty (drums, 1984-87), Stewart Roswell/Rosco (drums, 1987-88), William Carruthers (bass, 1988-91), Jon Mattock (drums, 1989-90), Steve Evans (guitar, 1990), Mark Refoy (guitar, 1990)

ALBUMS: Sound of Confusion (1986); The Perfect Prescription (1987); Performance (1988); Playing With Fire (1989); Recurring (1990); Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To (1990); The Singles (1995)

HOW: I was recommended Spacemen 3’s Playing With Fire by Jakob Battick (a quite talented musician and artist who is part of the Tea and Oranges collective) sometime in 2008 because he’d noticed I had been listening to Suicide (70s electronic pioneers) a lot and thought I might like them as well. I noticed it was in Robert Dimery’s 1,001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, which I’ve been soldiering on to finish for some time, so I thought I might as well … and I was blown back entirely!!! I wondered why I hadn’t heard of them before, why didn’t everyone know about them (only just now approaching 100,000 listeners on, at the time I’m writing this). The Suicide association made sense, because of the drone-riff repetition throughout, and of course an 11-minute jam called “Suicide” as an homage to that band. Some months later, I obtained The Perfect Prescription, which is now one of a very few albums I’d give 5/5 stars. I hesitated a bit before getting Sound of Confusion, since people seemed not to think highly of it, but I absolutely loved it, despite the fact that much of it is covers (13th Floor Elevators’ “Rollercoaster”, Juicy Lucy’s “Mary Anne”, and The Stooges’ “Little Doll” — “O.D. Catastrophe” might as well be a cover since it’s a lift from The Stooges’ “T.V. Eye”), as well as their last album, Recurring, which is curious to listen to because of it being split between a Sonic Boom/Peter Kember side and a J. Spaceman/Jason Pierce side. I had previously heard Spiritualized’s (J. Spacemen’s band, post-Spacemen 3) Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space and Lazer Guided Melodies a couple years prior; Spiritualized is certainly more well-known than Spacemen 3, and both are further still more listened-to than Spectrum (Sonic Boom’s post-Spacemen 3 band), which is a shame, because I love them all!

WHY: Spacemen 3 have quickly become one of my most-listened to bands and part of an elite club of music that actually makes me somehow more relaxed and even help me to fall asleep (The Kinks and Natural Snow Buildings also often do the trick). As much as the band were linked with and lyrically/thematically revolved around drugs, there is also a more profound spiritual element and unabashed sensuality in the music and words that one would be hard-pressed to ignore. To me, Spacemen 3 are nothing short of musical magic.

SONGS: The song selection here comes from highlights on their studio albums (chosen with assistance from polling people on Tumblr), as well as an alternate version of “Hey Man” (“Amen” from Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To), a Perfect Prescription demo (“Walking With Jesus“), the single version of “Transparent Radiation” (Red Krayola cover), and a live track (“Things’ll Never Be the Same“). It was tough to narrow down the essentials, but I think this better than any singles/greatest collection around previously — it’s the best compilation of Spacemen 3 you’re apt to find anywhere!

LINK: Click the list below to hear our 80MFL SPACEMEN 3 iMix.

Click the list to hear our SPACEMEN 3 iMix


Marilyn Roxie is a 19-year old music blogger at A Future in Noise and an electronic, instrumental composer. She’s just released her first single “Zug der Krautrock” (a tribute to the genre that Can and Kraftwerk both share) and is getting ready to launch her own record label, Electronic Angel.

~ by Patrick Gosnell on November 16, 2009.

6 Responses to “Spacemen 3”

  1. Marilyn,

    I’ll never forgive you for omitting So Hot. Ha! Just kidding; this is a great comp that I could listen to over and over. I actually hadn’t thought of the Suicide connection before – interesting! Anyway, great job on both the write-up and song selection!


  2. Thanks Ben! Oi, you 80MFL guys really need to change that banner so that it is a pic of Spacemen 3 instead of Loop; I’ll make you another one if I must! XD

  3. “Spaceman” will forever be pronounced “Spachemin” thanks to 30 Rock, and that makes it very difficult when it comes to Spacemen 3 😉

  4. doesn’t work!

  5. good call……
    if theres 2 b an s3 comp , this cud b the tracklist ……
    glad u dug the stuff ……..
    pk xx

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