Saturday, May 1, 2010

Alexander "Skip" Spence - Oar (1969)

File Skip Spence along with Nick Drake, Syd Barrett and Roky Erickson under the unfortunate category of "mental illness exacerbated by excessive drug use" casualties of the late 1960s; they all got a chance to record wonderful albums before (Drake), during (Barrett & Spence), or after (Erickson) complete breaks from reality.

Skip's story is a tough one; he was the original drummer for Jefferson Airplane, leaving after their first record and trading his drum kit for a guitar and amp. He then went on to have a successful few years as the main songwriter and guitarist for Moby Grape, but during the recording of their second record in New York, Skip had a bum LSD trip and he went off his nuts, trying to attack band mates Jerry Miller & Don Stevenson with an axe, chopping
down their hotel door in the process. Then he went to CBS Records' executive offices and tried to attack their producer, David Rubinson. Skip was sent to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital for six months and pumped full of thorazine, this is the record he wrote while in the asylum. He went to Nashville, recorded this whole album in a few weeks on a three-track and disappeared to the woods near Santa Cruz, where he lived in a trailer until he passed away in '99.

It's a haunting and deeply affected personal statement from a man in the midst of some serious inner turmoil; there's some solace to be taken here in Spence's beautiful honesty and dark confessional lyrics. Download this album now!

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