Saturday, September 5, 2015

Saturday Vinyl - Ultimate Spinach

ULTIMATE SPINACH is growing...expanding and exploding with myriad consciousness, laughter, feelings, thoughts, ideas...Barbara looking out at the world through a pierced retina, always the Jolly Green Earth Mother to us all...Richard continues his forever search for the eternal black horse...while Keith races, enlightened, out of the nineteenth century looking like a modern Diogenes on a ten-speed bicycle.

MGM Records SE-4518 1968
Yes! You're in for a heaping dose of 60's psychedelia here when you got liner notes that start like that! Ultimate Spinach's first album is one of those records that I've never gotten tired of playing. Probably because I don't play it too often. But when I do, I always enjoy it.

Released in January of 1968 their 1st album is probably their best known and most successful. It actually got as high as number 34 on the Billboard 200. Coming out of Boston and marketed as part of the "Bosstown Sound" intended as the east-coast response to the San Francisco sound, the band was Ian Bruce-Douglas on vocals, player of most of the instruments, songwriter and guru of the band. Well maybe guru is a fancy way of calling him the band's leader. He also wrote the liner notes for this album. Lengthy liner notes that continue in style to what you have above. The other members were Barbara Hudson on vocals and guitar, Keith Lahteinen on drums, Richard Nese on bass, and Geoffrey Winthropon on guitar and sitar.

The record is composed of nine cuts, with each song explained, well kind of explained, in the liner notes. I'm sure I've read the songs' notes, but really, one doesn't have to read them to enjoy the songs. It's the usual 60's tropes here, and nothing earthshaking. Youthful earnestness and anti-establishment rebellion combined with poetic angst swimming in a lot of keyboards and guitar, and you get the idea. That said, the songs, all of them, are pretty good if you're a fan of psychedelic music.

Gateway sleeve, liner notes by Ian Bruce-Douglas

Later in the year, Ultimate Spinach released a second album, but personnel changes and burnout were dampening the thrill. Psychedelic music travels best in short and brilliant journeys. It's not something you're going to pack for a long trip with. In 1969 the band released a third album which crashed right out of the gate. By the end of the 60's the band was no more.

You can check out their songs in all the usual places. I've seen their first two albums occasionally in the used record stores. I screwed up not buying the second one when I had the chance, but it'll show up again some day. As for their third record, well...I think I'll stick to the ones the band liked.