Thursday, October 30, 2014

Release of the Day: Ultimate Spinach - Ultimate Spinach

Hands down the most important book I read all year has been the Acid Archives Second Edition. It's an expensive investment, but worth its weight in gold. This book compiles thousands of reviews in addition to boasting short introductions to lesser-listened-to genres like New Age, Exotica, and obscure Soul. It focuses on private press, rare records generally of a psychedelic bent from about 1965 to 1985. The book is quick to admit that not all of the records that are reviewed are great, but many are and have been passed over, only to become collector rarities to the few who spent time digging through crates at record fairs.

Another thing that I've discovered this year is just how many excellent full albums are available to be streamed on YouTube. I mean, you can find anything there (though most is definitely not good). Anyway, Bill Roe from Trouble in Mind more or less hipped me to the "YouTube Album K-hole," which is when you just keep clicking albums on the right side of the screen to see if you hear something cool. It's basically fool-proof and I've discovered some pretty great jams. Maybe it's that I'm easy to please, but I'd say that most of the albums are worth at least a little attention: it's how I have discovered some pretty incredible records like The Bachs.

Today, I'm discovering and listening to Ultimate Spinach's lone long-player album from 1967 Ultimate Spinach. This band came out of Boston and wasn't happy with three-minute nuggets, so they instead decided to really psych out for extended periods of time, which can be heard in the the first song on the album "Ballad of the Hip Death Goddess." I mean, how badass is that title? I'll answer the question for you - pretty friggin' badass. And it's a great song to boot, starting with a uncanny vocal intro.

The album has familiar vocals, somewhat similar to early Kinks, which is a fairly good reference point to this record. "Funny Freak Parade," is a bouncing nug of psych pop like you'd hear on Kinda Kinks, but it also utilizes non-human vocals and exotic sounds to create a more untamed ambiance to the composition. The following song "Pamela," begins with a baroque organ trill before getting into more folk rock area. The use of classical or baroque-rooted instrumentation is consistent throughout the album, though the band never commits fully to either old-world or new-world music, resulting in something far out that could just as equally played in bars as in cathedrals.

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