Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ultimate Spinach 1968 [1995] "Behold & See"

Ultimate Spinach's second album The Penultimate Spinach (as they would make only one more LP) is a slightly more subdued continuation of the derivative psychedelia in their debut. Again, it's like a hack take on West Coast groups. There's Country Joe & the Fish in Ian Bruce-Douglas' electric keyboards (which don't play anything as good as his solos on "Sacrifice of the Moon" from the first album); Jefferson Airplane-like female vocals (by guest singer Carol Lee Britt) and songwriting on "Where You're At"; some Quicksilver Messenger Service-type guitar arrangements on "Mind Flowers"; a melody and vocal reminiscent of Kaleidoscope's "Keep Your Mind Open" on "Fragmentary March of Green"; and more. Songwriter Bruce-Douglas' lyrics are unintentional hippie parodies without any irony or humor, whether solemnly aspiring to a beatnik state ("take a trip to the center of your mind") or indicting the straight world ("he has an ulcer in his brain, from thinking of how to divorce his wife"). When the album turns to social critiques, it's uncertain whether the band is trying to mimic the Mothers of Invention without the wit, or whether they're unwittingly embodying the very kinds of groups whom the Mothers took the piss out of on We're Only in It for the Money. 

A psychedelic rock masterpiece, a musical tour-de-force from 1968 and the second album from the Boston psychmasters. Weird song structures, off the wall lyrics, use of unusual instruments. Reverb, feedback, drone.
More complex compositions, such as the suite in four movements 'Genesis of Beauty' and "Fragmentary March of Green', two pieces soaked in mysticism.. 'Jazz Thing' and 'Mind Flowers' experimented with even more unusual tempos and atmosphere, while the graceful "Gilded Lamp Of The Cosmos" exemplifies the best of their psychedelic folk ballads.This album's songs focus on a hippie society which would eventually give way to suburbia, status-symbols, relationships, religion and success. Beneath the "Mind Flowers" musical streams of consciousness was a picture of life in a changing society at the beginning of the new ‘70s decade. As the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Ian Bruce-Douglas, Ultimate Spinach privileged long elaborated suites, alternating instrumental passages, poetry and multipart vocals (the voice of Barbara Hudson reminding Grace Slick and Sonja Kristina) with original arrangements, including flutes, sitar, harpsichord and the electronic Theremin instrument.
IAN BRUCE DOUGLAS :"My lyrics have always come from two places: from my own observations and experiences and from that Dream Place the Shaman walks in. Some of the lyrics I write; some of the lyrics are written through me. Either way, don't listen to my lyrics if you're looking for that warm-and-cuddly feeling "We Are The World" gives. Listen to my lyrics because you want to be reminded that you are alive and capable of independent actions: that it's all right to be "unique" instead of common...or because you want to be taken to surrealistic places not accessible in the 9-to-5 world...or, if you're really nuts, for BOTH reasons! My stuff has ALWAYS been dark and my sense of humor is not for folks who dig Chevy Chase movies or TV sitcoms".


All tracks written by Ian Bruce-Douglas.
01. Gilded Lamp Of The Cosmos – 3:01
02. Visions Of Your Reality – 5:50
03. Jazz Thing – 6:39
04. Mind Flowers – 9:35
05. Where You’re At – 3:09
06. Suite: Genesis Of Beauty (in four parts) – 9:45
07. Fifth Horseman Of The Apocalypse – 5:56
08. Fragmentary March Of Green – 6:37
09. Mind Flowers (mono version) – 9:32
10. Fragmentary March Of Green (mono version) – 6:35


– Ian Bruce-Douglas – vocals, electric pianos, organ, vibes, electric guitar, recorders
– Barbara Jean Hudson – acoustic guitar, female vocals
– Geoffrey Winthrop – electric guitar
– Richard Nese – bass
– Russell Levine – drums, percussion
– Carol Lee Britt – female vocals
– Alan Lorber – producer