Mercury Rev this evening. Recorded live at Reading Festival 2001 on August 16th and preserved for posterity by BBC Radio 1.
Mercury Rev is an American indie rock band formed in 1989 in Buffalo, New York. Original personnel were David Baker (vocals), Jonathan Donahue (vocals, guitars), Sean Mackowiak, a.k.a. “Grasshopper” (guitars, clarinet), Suzanne Thorpe (flute), Dave Fridmann (bass) and Jimy Chambers (drums).
With their early records, Mercury Rev offered experimental, psychedelic rock, which gradually shifted to a melodic, ornate sound. Mercury Rev is often compared to The Flaming Lips, and in fact share close ties: soon after the band’s formation, Donahue also joined the Flaming Lips as second guitarist and appeared on two of their albums; and since the 1990 album In a Priest Driven Ambulance, Dave Fridmann has co-produced every Flaming Lips studio album to date except 1993’s Transmissions from the Satellite Heart.
Despite considerable critical acclaim, their early releases never gave Mercury Rev more than cult popularity, though they appeared on the smaller second stage at some 1993 Lollapalooza stops. Baker left after their second record, Boces (1993), citing musical and personal disputes; he later recorded an album as Shady. With his departure, the thematically darker and musically experimental]
The 1998 release of the acclaimed Deserter’s Songs (which featured appearances by Garth Hudson and Levon Helm of The Band) made Mercury Rev unexpected pop stars. In the UK, NME magazine made Deserter’s Songs their Album of the Year.Donahue’s earnest, high-pitched vocals and concentration on relatively concise, melodic songs gave the band’s material an entirely new feel and much increased popularity (Deserter’s Songs spawned three UK Top 40 singles).
All Is Dream was issued in 2001. It included, “The Dark is Rising,” which reached No. 16 in the UK Singles Chart.
You’ll be happy to know that Mercury Rev will be on U.S. tour, celebrating 20 years together, which starts sometime in October and includes some L.A. dates – so mark your calendars.