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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Alexander Lee Spence - AndOarAgain (1968 us, a warped blend of acid folk and far out psych rock, 2018 three disc hard sleeve set remaster)

Like a rough, more obscure counterpart to Syd Barrett, Skip Spence was one of the late '60s' most colorful acid casualties. The original Jefferson Airplane drummer (although he was a guitarist who had never played drums before joining the group), Spence left after their first album to join Moby Grape. Like every member of that legendary band, he was a strong presence on their first album, playing guitar, singing, and writing "Omaha." The group ran into rough times in 1968, and Spence had the roughest, flipping out and (according to varying accounts) running amok in a record studio with a fire axe; he ended up being committed to New York's Bellevue Hospital. Upon his release, 

Spence cut an acid-charred classic, Oar, in 1969. Though released on a major label (Columbia), this was reportedly one of the lowest-selling items in its catalog and is hence one of the most valued psychedelic collector items. Much rawer and more homespun than the early Grape records, it features Spence on all (mostly acoustic) guitars, percussion, and vocals. With an overriding blues influence and doses of country, gospel, and acid freakout thrown in, this sounds something like Mississippi Fred McDowell imbued with the spirit of Haight-Ashbury 1967. It also featured cryptic, punning lyrics and wraithlike vocals that range from a low Fred Neil with gravel hoarseness to a barely there high wisp. Sadly, it was his only solo recording; more sadly, mental illness prevented Spence from reaching a fully functional state throughout the remainder of his lifetime. He died April 16, 1999, just two days short of his 53rd birthday; the tribute album, More Oar: A Tribute to Alexander "Skip" Spence, featuring performances by Robert Plant, Beck, and Tom Waits, appeared just a few weeks later. 
by Richie Unterberger

AndOarAgain provides unparalleled access to what David Fricke calls “the most harrowing and compelling artifacts of rock & roll’s most euphoric era” across three dozen unheard tracks! In addition to the quintessential original album, AndOarAgain features nearly two hours of unheard music on the way to Oar–along with roads not taken–that both clarifies and muddies the enigma of how psychedelic legend Alexander “Skip” Spence determined the final state of his iconic masterpiece. The time: December, 1968. The setting: the Columbia Recording Studios at 504 16th Avenue South in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Alexander Spence – a singer, songwriter, and guitarist commonly known as Skip, recently relieved of his duties in the San Francisco rock band Moby Grape after a descent into excessive hallucinatory-drug use and a psychotic episode with a fire axe – is recording Oar, his first album as a Columbia solo artist. It will also be his last. Made in six days spread over two weeks, then released six months later on May 19th, 1969, Oar will be Spence’s only complete expression of his experimental verve and musical facility, under his real name and creative control, before he recedes into rapidly deepening, ultimately conquering darkness. A half-century after its brisk, strange birth, Oar remains an apparent chaos of eccentric composition and overwhelming melancholy, wreathed in country-blues shadows and the smokey blur of Spence’s wounded-baritone singing. 

AndOarAgain, a 3-CD set including the seminal original album, the 1999 bonus cuts, and nearly two hours of unheard Oar; all packaged in a hardbound book-style jacket with rare photos and extensive notes from David Fricke! 

Disc 1 Oar
1. Little Hands - 3:43
2. Cripple Creek - 2:15
3. Diana - 3:31
4. Margaret-Tiger Rug - 2:16
5. Weighted Down (The Prison Song) - 6:25
6. War In Peace - 4:04
7. Broken Heart - 3:28
8. All Come To Meet Her - 2:03
9. Books Of Moses - 2:42
10.Dixie Peach Promenade - 2:52
11.Lawrence Of Euphoria - 1:29
12.Grey/Afro - 9:38
13.This Time He Has Come - 4:42
14.It's The Best Thing For You - 2:49
15.Keep Everything Under Your Hat - 3:06
16.Furry Heroine - 3:35
17.Givin' Up Things - 0:59
18.If I'm Good - 0:48
19.You Know - 1:47
20.Doodle - 1:03
21.Fountain - 0:34
22.To Think You And I - 1:14
All compositions by Alexander Lee Spence

Disc 2 Or
1. Little Hands (Take 2) - 3:43
2. Cripple Creek (Basic) - 2:08
3. Diana (Take 3) - 4:39
4. Furry Heroine (Halo Of Gold) (Alternate) - 3:29
5. My Friend - 2:52
6. War In Peace (Alternate) - 3:49
7. Broken Heart (Vocal And Acoustic) - 4:47
8. All Come To Meet Her (Alternate 1) - 2:17
9. I Want A Rock 'n' Roll Band - 3:13
10.Dixie Peach Promenade (Yin For Yang)  (Alternate) - 2:09
11.Lawrence Of Euphoria (Alternate) - 2:03
12.Mary Jane / Steamboat - 5:01
13.I Got A Lot To Say (Version 1) - 1:53
14.Diana (Alternate 1) - 2:41
15.War In Peace (Instrumental) - 3:29
16.Diana (Alternate 2) - 5:57
All Music and Lyrics by Alexander Lee Spence

Disc 3 More
1. Little Hands (Vocal Overdub) - 3:48
2. Diana (Version 2) - 1:13
3. Weighted Down (The Prison Song) (Rehearsal) - 1:13
4. The Shape You're In - 0:57
5. I Want A Rock 'n' Roll Band (Instrumental) - 1:50
6. It's A Hard Life (Version 1) - 0:36
7. I Got Something For You - 2:03
8. Diana (12 String Version) - 4:00
9. I Got A Lot To Say (Version 2) - 0:52
10.It Ain't Nice (Version 1) - 1:19
11.She Don't Care - 0:58
12.All Come To Meet Her (Alternate 2) - 2:16
13.It Aint't Nice (Version 2) - 1:07
14.It's A Hard Life (Version 2) - 0:38
15.All Come To Meet Her (Rehearsal) - 3:03
16.Diana (Overdub) - 4:04
17.War In Peace (Take 2) - 4:18
18.Broken Heart (Extended Master) - 4:38
19.War In Peace (Guitar Overdub) - 4:48
20.Diana (Basics) - 3:44
All songs by Alexander Lee Spence

*Alexander Lee "Skip" Spence - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Drums, Production

Related Act
1967  Moby Grape - Moby Grape (2007 remaster)
1967-68  The Place And The Time (2009 Sundazed release)
1969  Wow (Sundazed Issue)
1969  Moby Grape - Moby Grape 69' (2007 remaster and expanded)

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