#173 Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence – Oar

Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence is one of those artist I have never heard of before today. Yet, he had a great career in the music business prior to his single solo effort Oar. He played the drums on the first Jefferson Airplane album, the guitarist in Quicksilver Messenger Service, and he was the co-founder of Moby Grape. He was talented. But he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and took himself out of the music business after this album, except for a few reunions with Moby Grape.

According to Spence he turned in demos to the producer who decided it was the finished product and was released as it was recorded. If this is his demos, then he was more talented than I imagined.

This album is the result of six months in Bellevue Hospital for treatment. It seems that the quiet and rest did Spence some good. He was prolific while in the hospital. His story is really sad for me. I know how it is to struggle every day with depression. I hate life. I hate myself. I wish I was dead every day. Sadness smothers me. I can feel it inside of me eating me away. I am the most alone person in the world. I do not know why I am here. Why do I feel so hated? Why am I alone? Why do all my friends leave me? Why does God hate me?

I think this is an awesome album. I find it easy to listen to even when he uses his deep voice on some of the songs. I cannot say that I hate any of the songs enough to skip, maybe his Johnny Cash sounding vocals on “Broken Heart” is my least favourite, but the lyrics are relatable,

“A broken heart would be lovely
Broken on the ground
A knife stuck in the ribs of me
Would be better be found
Hanging tree blowing gently
A noose would be ignored
Then to stand upon the receiving end
Of the right hand of the Lord”.

I like his songs when his vocals are more ethereal like “All Come to Meet Her” and “Grey/Afro” or where his music has unique sounds like “Books of Moses” and “This Time He Has Come” which was included as a bonus track on the reissue album.

It is sad that his talent was wasted on depression. Depression kills so many talented people. Support this talented person by listening to his album. This is an interesting album that should have been promoted by the record company, but they did not and it was deleted. 9.5/10.

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