100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #67 Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space

Released : 1997

The phrase goes “Packaging – the silent salesman”. There was little ambiguity around the three dimensional design of Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, a prop intended to mimic pharmaceutical containers and an unconcealed nod to leader Jason Pierce’s decades-long quest for absolution by narcotics. “Taking drugs to make music to take drugs to”, indeed.

Under the cover of these blurred realities things can fall apart unnoticed. Pierce’s girlfriend and then Spiritualised keyboards player Kate Radley left the band and him in 1995, but this was due to more than simply musical differences. In secret she’d immediately then married The Verve singer Richard Ashcroft, an assignation which Pierce discovered four days before his band were due to open for them on a UK tour.

Two years on, it was Radley’s voice at the beginning of the album’s title track, an earth bound introduction to a seventy minute long opus which ironically had some of The Verve‘s early dazed mysticism, threaded around moments of extraordinary beauty and soul. For a man who’d turned out of body experiences into his art, this simple waltz was a gateway to loss, love and peace, a moment of transcendency that made everything before it seem hollow. Just a single dose of it was enough to get you hooked.

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