Posts from 18th August 1999

18
Aug 99

98. FLYING SAUCER ATTACK – “Sally Free And Easy”

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Tom Ewing’s Top 100 Singles of the 90s 

A cover of a forgotten fifties folk tune, “Sally Free And Easy” is the track that makes explicit Flying Saucer Attack’s romantic purpose, tightly drawing the strings together which connect their dignified feedback thrum to earlier English art traditions. What results is a record which has slipped out of time: its committment to noise and blur would have barely qualified it as music in 1958, but it somehow belongs more to then than to now, even so.

Maybe it’s because, unlike most covers, this sounds absolutely freed from cynicism. I’ve nothing against cynicism, it’s served me well as a first line of defense against cant and bogusness, but it’s undeniable that this decade has been perhaps a bit too knowing and hard-faced. One way to get away from that is to get off your face on chemicals or noise or both, and to the very casual observer Flying Saucer Attack probably come over as another neo-psychedelic crew, blasted on some West Country heath, a more ruralist Spacemen 3.

Far from the truth. Flying Saucer Attack’s most plainly enjoyable songs remain their brace of fuzzed-up indie covers, which took songs by Suede and Wire and showed that turning up the noise just made them more pop. Though those tracks are far from typical, they point up how FSA at their best used feedback not to get out of it but to get further into whatever was there in the song-skeleton in the first place. In the case of Sally Free And Easy, that means skin upon skin of expressionist noise-gauze which wring every last drop of wistfulness from the song, leaving this listener feeling cleansed.