Acoustic Sounds

The Flaming Lips

Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)



Label: Warner Records

Produced By: Dave Fridmann, Scott Booker, The Flaming Lips

Engineered By: Dave Fridmann, Michael Ivins

Mixed By: Dave Fridmann, The Flaming Lips

Mastered By: Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering

Lacquers Cut By: Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering

The Flaming Lips Battle History

20th anniversary deluxe deep dive from Oklahoma's favorite sons

As someone who’d missed the early psycho-garage days and didn’t care all that much for the “Jelly” song, I was fully unprepared for the full force of what the Flaming Lips had become when they touched down in Athens, Georgia in September of 2000. Sure, the LSD helped, but long before we were inside of its fluorescent metallic grip, it was clear that the Category-5 euphoria of their live show could not be denied. Let’s remember that at the time, they were performing as a three piece - having watched guitarist Ronald Jones evaporate into the candy-colored ether a few years before. Sitting in with them that night instead was all of the high praise that had been bestowed on “The Soft Bulletin” over the preceding five months. It was and will probably always stand up as the moment when their Midwestern psychedelic experiment achieved escape velocity.

So when the band returned to producers David Fridmann’s studio lair up in western New York to record what would become Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, it was feeling victorious and untethered. The group was still unbound by any script the industry might want to impose on it, and they’d come away from the Grammys and the media limelight with a playfully mischievous desire to recast their sound with the pop beats of the day. The results were as epic as its predecessor and this 20th anniversary five LP deluxe reboot is an appropriate (and very pink…) monument to the album’s story


From the moment Wayne Coyne does his electro-James Earl Jones impression to kick off “Fight Test,” it’s instantly clear that we’ve traversed into hardcore Lips territory where light-hearted futurism is painted in their own psychedelic impasto. Not that Cat Stevens heard it that way. The song’s resemblance to his “Father and Son” track (even after they had reworked the familiar elements…) was enough for him to ask and get a 75% share of the royalties. The “I’m a man not a boy” lyric probably didn’t help. For his part, Coyne was ashamed and hyper-apologetic about the lift throughout the record’s original publicity cycle and beyond.

That gaffe aside, the album marches on with the gentle, bass-propelled of “One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21” – a song about a cyborg falling helplessly for the woman he’s supposed to vanquish in mortal combat. It’s the one point where the band’s approximation to their colleagues in Mercury Rev. Both outfits benefitted from Fridmann’s talents (and studio…), and it’s commonly held that the Rev’s Deserter’s Songs and The Soft Bulletin were two yolks separated out of the same egg.

The title track clomps on to the stage next featuring its winsome melodies and wobbly guitars.  It’s also perhaps the best example of the band successfully injecting some of the Timbaland-like beats they were hoping to appropriate. From there we get more squelchy synth workouts and a semi-acoustic lullaby (“In The Morning Of The Magicians”) that stands as the side one closer and a supple link to the flipside which begins with the similarly dreamy “Ego Tripping At The Gates of Hell.” By contrast “Are You A Hypnotist?” begins to ratchet up the tension again with a booming choirs and a driving drum performance from utility player Steven Drozd. If “It’s Summertime” feels slight eight tracks deep into the record, it may be because it tees up the grand vision that is “Do You Realize??” – the album’s first single and its eventual calling card.

Since its release, however, Wayne’s paean to joy and mortality has become the official state song of Oklahoma and a celebration of life in delivery rooms and gravesites. How it didn’t get slotted in as the album’s closer is a question worth asking, but maybe it’s simply because the Lips wanted to pull back from what might have seemed like an overly grandiose gesture. Or maybe they just couldn’t gauge its universality. Instead we get the song’s argument ethereally restated by a time traveler in “All We Have Is Now,” and a trumpet blasted instrumental to listen to while the credits roll.

Spread across the remaining four records in this we get a collection of demos (don’t sleep on “Syrtis Major”…), a full album’s worth of Non-LP b-sides (their take on “Seven Nation Army” is a fun and irreverent send up of the original…), and two platters worth of radio sessions (including stellar versions of the album cuts for BBC Radio 1…). It’s a completists journey to be sure, but housed as it is in a sturdy slipcase plastered over with Coyne’s fantastic artwork, the set feels as if that period in the band has been thoroughly encapsulated.

There is an all “baby pink” vinyl version of the set, but our copy came in traditional black with each record weighing in at about 170 grams. While not profanely expensive, it would have been nice if something other than plain paper inners would have been used. Then again, a poster is included. The included liner notes probably also could have used some beefing up. While again, beautifully decked out in the various paintings Wayne’s did around the theme of the Yoshimi character, a thicker companion piece with something other than several extended interviews (where bassist Michael Ivins does not chime in…) would have been welcome. But the sound of these pressings are top notch and not one of the records came out of the shrink with any visible warping


Coyne and Drozd are all that’s left of the Lips core unit now. And while there’s no end to the touring side of the band in sight thanks to their capable squad of younger lieutenants, the heft and timing of this reissue feels like the band are down shifting into some weird new condition. Maybe that feeling will lift once there is some new music to consider, but in the interim there’s plenty to pour over here.

Music Specifications

Catalog No: 093624873051

Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Presentation: Box Set


  • 2023-04-20 05:05:44 AM

    Anton wrote:

    Love this band, love this album.

    This is a set I’d wanna listen to with the artist.

  • 2023-04-20 02:26:50 PM

    bwb wrote:

    I watched the video. It amazes me that the guy is obviously so excited to open the box set to show off the records and even more obviously so ignorant about how to properly handle them.

  • 2023-04-21 02:07:18 AM

    Mark wrote:

    Watching Wayne buzz with pride and excitement he comes across as a really nice guy.

    'But the sound of these pressings are top notch' - then why a sound score of 8?

    Hopefully they will rerelease the original album on vinyl as a standalone.

  • 2023-04-21 09:38:19 PM

    kevin l westerbeck wrote:

    I always found this Album quite depressing....also the band