IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED
It seems like every rock music critic/writer has put together a list of “the best albums you’ve never heard.” And one of the albums that is on just about everyone’s list is Oar by Alexander “Skip” Spence.
Spence was the drummer in the original Jefferson Airplane and one of the founders of San Francisco’s Moby Grape. In 1968, after he left the group (after attempting to go all Lizzy Borden on a couple of his bandmates), ended up in New York’s Bellvue Hospital for about 6 months. There he wrote the songs for Oar that he recorded in Nashville, playing all of the instruments himself – about a year before Paul McCartney pulled the same trick on his own debut solo album.
Oar is emotionally raw and can be very depressing at times. But it is also one of the most authentic records I’ve ever heard and that’s what ultimately give it its legs.
The SotW is “War in Peace.”
I discovered a website called Julian Cope’s Head Heritage that has a feature called The Book of Seth. Several times a year Seth writes a review of an Unsung album or 45. In February 2004 he featured Oar. Here’s what he had to say about today’s SotW:
“The weightless “War In Peace” is an emanation from eternity’s echo chamber. Spence’s electric lead guitar bursts in midway — chipped, fragmentary and falling like glittering silt as echoed whispering and whistling crisscross the patch of snapped tight hit-hats and bass lines like posts demarcating an unswerving boundary into the distance. By the time the electric guitar solo arrives, the infamously shattered “Sunshine Of Your Love” riff is already stumbling down a ravine in slow motion hitting branches, bouncing off rocks and causing landslides while atomic particles just collect and disperse in its wake until finally breaking down into a cosmic freefall beyond their once dimensional limitations.”
There’s not much I can add to that!
Wikipedia reports that the album was the lowest selling record in the Columbia Records catalog, deleted and relegated to the cut out bins in less than a year. I’d love to have one of those copies!
Enjoy… until next week.