Thursday, October 16, 2014


Alexander "Skip" Spence stirred things up with the weighted psychedelic folk sketches of this expansive enigmatic euphoria.  Spence was born in Ontario, Canada and moved to San Jose, California where he was given his first guitar at the age of ten.   While on his was to audition for a group that would become Quicksilver Messenger Service, he was recruited by Marty Balin to join Jefferson Airplane as their drummer, despite the fact that he didn't play drums.  He appeared on their debut album 'Jefferson Airplane Takes Off' in 1966 before being replaced when he didn't show up for rehearsals.  His song "My Best Friend" would appear on the band's sophomore release 'Surrealistic Pillow'.  Spence considered joining Buffalo Springfield as a drummer before going back to guitar and co-founding Moby Grape.  During work on their second album 'Wow / Grape Jam' in New York, Spence began experimenting heavily with LSD.  He disappeared for a while and then tried to attack one of his bandmates with an axe.  He was sent to The Tombs and then spent six months at Bellevue where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and where he composed most of the songs that would comprise his only album.  

'Oar' was recorded at CBS studios in Nashville.  Spence produced the sessions over four days and played every instrument on what he considered to be demos to be fleshed out later.  Producer David Rubinson stayed out of the way and instructed engineer Mike Figlio to keep the tapes running.  Colombia Records refused to promote 'Oar' and deleted it from their catalog when it became their lowest selling album.  The album has gone on to become a cult classic.  Spence would reflect in an interview in 1968:   "If you search for something, you're denying it's presence. The sound is there, but to look is to push it away."

 "Little Hands" 

"Books of Moses"

full album:

"Little Hands" – 3:44
"Cripple Creek" – 2:16
"Diana" – 3:32
"Margaret/Tiger Rug" – 2:17
"Weighted Down (The Prison Song)" – 6:27
"War in Peace" – 4:05
"Broken Heart" – 3:29
"All Come to Meet Her" – 2:04
"Books of Moses" – 2:42
"Dixie Peach Promenade (Yin for Yang)" – 2:53
"Lawrence of Euphoria" – 1:31
"Grey/Afro" – 9:38

reissue bonus tracks:

"This Time He Has Come" – 4:42
"It's the Best Thing for You" – 2:48
"Keep Everything Under Your Hat" – 3:06
"Furry Heroine (Halo of Gold)" – 3:35
"Givin' up Things" – 0:59
"If I'm Good" – 0:47
"You Know" – 1:47
"Doodle" – 1:02
"Fountain" – 0:34
"I Think You and I" – 1:14

More Oar: A Tribute to the Skip Spence Album

"Little Hands" Robert Plant 4:22
"Cripple Creek" Mark Lanegan 2:12
"Diana" Alejandro Escovedo 4:08
"Margaret Tiger-Rug" The Dūrocs 2:27
"Weighted Down (The Prison Song)" Jay Farrar & The Sir Omaha Quintet
"War In Peace" Mudhoney 3:15
"Broken Heart" Robyn Hitchcock 3:48
"All Come To Meet Her" Diesel Park West 4:06
"Books Of Moses" Tom Waits 3:01
"Dixie Peach Promenade" ( Yin For Yang ) Greg Dulli 3:03
"Lawrence Of Euphoria" The Ophelias 1:40
"Grey - Afro" Flying Saucer Attack 4:24 [5]
"This Time He Has Come" Alastair Galbraith 5:18 [5]
"It's The Best Thing For You" Engine 54 5:02
"Keep Everything Under Your Hat" Outrageous Cherry 3:18
"Halo Of Gold" Beck 4:32
"Doodle" Minus 5 13:18

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