Oar is the only solo studio album by American rock musician Skip Spence, released on May 19, 1969 by Columbia Records. It was recorded over seven days in December 1968 in Nashville, and features Spence on all of the instruments.Wikipedia
Well, this is an interesting one, and I'm trying to figure out the context and time that it's from. I've not heard of this album or this person before. I'm hearing Leonard Cohen, Richard Hawley, Sufjan Stevens and the Flaming Lips. Some neat guitar work and psychedelic elements. I started reading about the history of this album. This was made in 1969, and it feels like a blueprint for a lot of the music I've enjoyed over the years. I started playing this album as I got on I-95 this morning and it didn't register for me until "Weighted Down (The Prison Song). The album is getting scratchy and his voice feels like it's struggling. It's an album that documents a time where the musician is going through some serious psychological trauma. And forgive me, but I'm really enjoying this beautiful breakdown.
Had never heard of Skip and doing a bit of pre-reading I was ready to dismiss this out of hand. It's a surprising one, there's a variety of stuff on here and it never felt samey. War in Peace sounds like something Radiohead would produce and there's a range in his voice which adds to the appeal. Seems like Skip had a difficult life and you can feel it in some of these songs. It's not in any way polished but maybe that's part of the appeal. Overall, I enjoyed this.
This starts a nicely melodic psychedelic folk country album with lots of creative songs. Then at about Afro/Grey is steers toward a much more random sequence of "songs". Takes a bit hit at the midway point.
From the beginning, this is a biased perspective. I read Gibson's essay on Spence's pants while I listened to the front twelve, and I have a weakness for Gibson. Also read Spence's biography, of course, but the album ended up being far less devastating than I expected. That's a good sign for music, generally. Wasn't sure how much to like it, then found my attention being pulled to a huge number of songs compared to normal. Pretty much perfect arc, if at a shallow angle.
I'm not sure what I expected, after reading about this album and then checking out other reviews. But this is pretty fantastic. Setting aside Spence's personal struggles for a moment, which necessarily underpin any discussion of this work, it's just really good. He floats pretty effortlessly from folk to psychedelic to bluesy rock, ethereal to dour. Spence is a talented guitarist with an interesting vocal range. It also appears he wrote, arranged and played these songs without much assistance from his producer, which is actually impressive. The fact that these songs were essentially demos works for them and the stripped down sound has allowed the album to age quite well. The only song that seems very much of the era is the first song, "Little Hands." The lyrics overall range from whimsical to disjointed and abstract, sometimes beautifully poetic. Consider them in terms of Spence's struggles, and some of them are pretty heartbreaking. This is the first album generated for me so far that surprised me in a really positive way. I will be listening to this one a lot in the future. Fave songs: Weighted Down, War in Peace, Grey/ Afro
the dude is great, sometimes im surprised that everything on the album is him considering the diversity of singing and instrumentals, cant say all songs on the album are great but enough are
Fragile, tender, warm, haunted, fragmented in parts, with a very odd soundstage - drums (where they appear) way over one side - a singular album, an enriching and challenging listen
jesus, how fuckin' gone was this guy? (i looked him up after i wrote that...pretty fuckin' gone, i guess.) this was a rhythmically interesting album, which at times bordered on rhythmically challenging. and melodically challenging. but it ultimately won me over simply because it seemed so genuine, and not just the stoned ramblings of some egotist.
Interesting stuff - sort of a Nick Drake vibe, but with a bit more psychedelia thrown in. 3-4 stars. Big fan of 'Broken Heart'
"hey what if we put only the drums in the right channel and everything else in the left"
Composed after a stay in mental hospital
Sounded like a mumbling pub singer
A talentless retarded hobo.
It's a really weird experience
Wow! I didn't know this album. It's fantastic.
I do not own a copy of this album and had not listened to it for a long time. True sixties classic from a musician who was obviously very talented. The kind of psychedelic rock that is still very accessible, as it is mixed with strong and classic song-writing.
Why do I like this album? Muddy vocals, muddy instruments. It's the ultimate late night, stupendously drunk, sad but containing sardonic humour, epic. I hear Jeff Buckley, then I hear Tom Waits! This is the poster child for pain producing great art. This is the reward for sponsoring 1001 albums. I'd never heard anything about this man before.
Fell in love with this lovely bit of wierdness pretty quickly...messy, incoherent, mumbling foolishness at its best...
Yes… Hahaha… Yes!
Pretty good psych rock album - not exactly my favorite genre/time period, but it was still really good
War in Peace best song. Pretty interesting
Very interesting listen and one of my new favorites from this list so far. The sound of an accomplished songwriter...losing his mind.
Jhonny cash? are you there?
Some great tracks and some filler at best
Very chill album, good for background while working. Song 2 is a banger
Surprised by how much I enjoyed this album I had never heard of. Perfect soundtrack for an early morning walk at sunrise.
This album was like a rollercoaster for me. Shifting between super melodic, reverby tenor vocals layered on top of one bass note at a time to chanting with a snare drum to almost pre-rock ballads you can picture playing on a piano with a lone spotlight overhead. Overall a beautiful album, interesting to read about 'Skip' Spence's life while playing through.
Had been holding off on listening to this one, for fear that it would be too bleak or upsetting, based on some of the description. Surprisingly light and pleasant, definitely one to revisit with a more analytical eye.
Very varied, moving between country, rock, psychedelic and more. Not heard this before,really fresh sounds
Ok, this is the type of record that leaves me speechless. It's just beautiful. Listen to this album if you haven't already.
I would say this album is very interesting, and I enjoyed listening to it. I feel like I would enjoy something from Skip that wasn't solo, so I will have to check out more work previous to this.
And here I was complaining about Taylor Swift's inclusion on this list. As much as the 1001 albums book is lost when it comes to *recent* masterpieces, its writers know their stuff about the past, at least when it comes the rock genre. Alexander "Skip" Pence's *Oar* is indeed a hidden treasure--a bold, raw, often visionary statement from an artist on the brink of madness. Moby Grape being a rock band I find horribly bland and unoriginal compared to its more famous peers from the sixties, I would never have thought of checking out this solo effort from one of their most deranged members without this 1001 album project. And because of haunting songs such as "Little Hands", "Diana" and "Book Of Moses", I'm so glad I did now. Some of Spence's cuts here even pave the way towards the future, from the proto-krautrock-tinged "Gray/Afro" to the pre-Radiohead-like "War In Peace" and its awe-inducing chord changes and guitar flourishes. Interspersed between those highlights are a number of songs going from the eccentric to the downright sinister, with a voice that's unpredictable from one track to the next. The whole is thus an uncompromising picture of the psychological hardships this American Syd Barrett went through. His life story is a very sad one, but at least we can rejoice he was able to leave this recording, a very unique one, in all senses of the word. Madness being a part of the human experience, all of this makes *Oar* a compelling album, both musically and artistically. So I'm happy I can now place this one next to other misunderstood folk misfits or psychedelic oucasts such as Barrett, Nick Drake, Mark Fry, and The Incredible String Band. Thanks, Dimery and co. Number of albums left to review or just listen to: 863 Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens: 75 (including this one) Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: 34 Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more important): 29
I like it, though others in this genre I think are better. I need to spend more time tuned in to the lyrics, but overall, a good piece. I wonder how/why I've never known about this record.
For whatever reason, I'm fascinated by albums created by artists going through some type of mental crisis or breakdown. Syd Barrett's solo work, Big Star's Third, Brian Wilson, Jay Bennett after he parted ways with Wilco. This is one I hadn't heard before, although strangely enough I knew of the album for another reason. I'm a huge fan of the Replacements, who were discovered by a guy named Peter Jesperson, who managed a record store in Minneapolis called Oar Folkjokeopus, which was named after this album and Folkjokeopus, an album by Roy Harper. Having said all that, when I saw this pop up I was intrigued. As expected, it's a really uneven album with moments of brilliance. Not all great, but enough recognizable musical genius and interest here to give it 4 stars.
To me this is just a normal album
A curious album, seemingly classic late sixties folky singer songwriter fare but as the album progresses an experimental undertone begins to appear, as if he’s on the cusp of a musical breakthrough. One to dive into further.
This was a solid country rock psychedelic album. Skip Spence certainly has an ear for creating a darker atmosphere. It’s a shame his career was so short lived, he was clearly doing something that added to the psychedelia genre, once that feels bloated even as early as 1969. The back half of the album was more experimental and reminded me of 90s alternative and indie type music, certainly ahead of its time.
Avery interesting album that quickly draws you in with its relaxed folk vibe, interesting arrangements and excellent, idiosyncratic vocals. Then you read the back story, discover that Skip produced and played every sound on the album and it becames apparent that this is the work of a singular talent. I'm on my second listen and I anticipate many more in the coming months. 4 stars.
Very off-putting at first, but it grows on you. The end of the album is the best part. Spotify has the expanded edition with snippets of "unfinished" songs (even if most of Oar proper is full of songs that could have used a little polish.) Not sure if Oar is essential listening, but it has its moments.
Didn’t finish it . Not for me . Maybe if I was at a ranch and sitting on a rocking chair on the porch basking in the moonlight . Nice vibe
This is some legit Can-con. Very cool record.
Cool folky/blues/spacey/jammy music from an artist I had never heard of. The second half of the album is very experimental, almost like studio outtakes. Caught a "Sunshine of Your Love" tease in "War in Peace". Highlights: -Little Hands -All Come to Meet Her -War in Peace
So odd. I can hear the mental illness. Wrenching and interesting.
A very interesting psychedelic album.
I really enjoyed most of the songs, but I wish the record would have been a little bit shorter. It got too repetitive after a while
It was OK
I wanted to like this more than I did. Kind of reminded me of Syd Barrett but not as good.
J’ai bien aime mais plus psychedelique vers la fin. Quand meme surprenant pour une petite balade dans le bois. 3.90
I really wanted to like this album but I was kind of bored.
Psychedelic album; alright
Had never heard this but really liked it. Got weird! I'll throw it on every once in a while.
Jotenkin tämä levy kuulostaa siltä, että kaveri olisi LCD-päissään yrittänyt paloitella bändikaverit palokirveellä ja sen jälkeen viettänyt sairaalassa puoli vuotta, kirjoittanut biisit sairaalassa ja suoraan sairaalasta päästyään karauttanut studiolle ja äänittänyt biisit ykkösellä purkkiin. Ja ne oli sitten siinä, tulee muuten hiotun oloisia. Näin ainakin tuottajan mielestä, eikä demoja tarvinut lähteä sen enempää uudelleenäänittämään. Biiseissä on joku tietty johnnycashmäinen karisma, mikä pitää otteessaan. Tietty myönnettäköön, että minulla on heikko kohta tällaiseen singer/songwriter ja kitara -musiikkiin. Heti alussa tuntuu, onko tässä kaksi eri laulajaa kuin Little Handsin jälkeen Cripple Creekissa lauluääni on niin erilainen - jälkimmäisessä kappaleessa tumman möreä, hivenen massahtava. Kokonaisuutena vähän liian pitkä ja venytetty levy (sama rikkinäinen radio, pahoittelut), jotta alkaisin keulimaan nelosen suuntaan.
Hoo boy, this album is real slow and real sad.
I found some of this really pretty good, I liked the ramblings and the sound and the guitar work. And what a backstory
This was an album I’d never even heard about. Listening to the album and reading about its creation, it bears more than a passing resemblance to Syd Barrett’s solo work. Though this leans more on folk/Americana/country as opposed to Barrett’s blues roots. I will listen again
not totally crazy about his voice, nice bluesy guitar
Kings of Leon -aha shake heartbreak
-I like the low voice on "Cripple Creek" -Great of the album was just very plain, boring rock
It feels a bit like a rough diamond. There is something really good about this, yet there is also something missing. It sounds a bit incomplete. I did enjoy this a lot tho.
Spence spent time in a mental facility after trying to use a fireaxe on his bandmates, and this album came out of it. It's a bit long and self-indulgent, but I guess he's allowed that if it's what he needs. Best track: Diana
Ei tarjonnut ihmeitä vaikka ei mitään paskaa ollutkaan. Viimeisen 60v aikana monta tusinaa vastaavia artisteja. 2,5*
from boring to ahead of its time
The sound of one man losing his mind. This is definitely an album you need to listen to even though it may not be that easy. Sort of lo-fi country rock. Best Tracks: Little Hands; Cripple Creek, War In Peace
It was alright. Like the bass a lot.
Great and curious
Primordial Jeff Buckley?! But a little too long
Didn't grab me. Kind of boring tbh.
Good folk music
This is the first one I didn't quite make it through. There were a lot of songs I liked like Weighted Down, but I also found the vocal affects and left/right split of the recording pretty irritating at times.
Fine - didn’t finish yet
First time hearing of this guy. I really like it. I want to hear more of it. 3/5
Nothing grabbed me
Extraño. Experimental. Rock, country...
first listen fascinating listen given the context, an interesting jumbled mess
It was okay. Interested reading about the background of the album and definitely makes sense why it's a bit of a rambling, meandering mess.
This was okay, but way too long for not having all that many good songs .
Wow. Never heard of this before. I could listen to this one gladly for another day (maybe more). 3/5
Borde kanske lyssna igen...
Having never heard of of Spence, I was impressed at how his sound serves as an influence for the more popular singer songwriters we are familiar with. 3.5/5.
Boring i didn’t listen to very much of it
I mean, I guess this was an influential album? Its not terrible, but its not great either. 3/5
Worth a listen. I appreciated all the experimentation in the second half, but it's not something I'll probably revisit.
Way before it’s time but not ready yet imo
I love the work that he did with moby grape but I think his talent was spent at this point. It’s too bad, really make you wonder what could have been
Hard to get through to be honest
A few gems, but otherwise feels a bit like it was written in a van down by the river under a bridge. With lots of heroin.
Omituinen levy, jonka taustat aukesi paremmin wikipediasta lukemalla. Jotkut biisit hyvinkin tavanomaisia ja jopa ihan mukiinmeneviä, mutta kokonaisuuden rikkoo monet todella erikoiset ja heikot kappaleet jotka tuntuu jopa jonkinlaiselta improvisaatiolta. Jokin levyssä silti kiehtoo, ja ehkä tätä pitääkin kuunnella vielä paremmalla keskittymisellä uudestaan.
A dude songwriter.
I hated almost every single moment of this album and after reading his tragic story and death here in Santa Cruz it was incredibly depressing as well. I feel like its so well regarded because of his story and not the music.
This album has some good sounding music. The instrumentals are decent enough for similar era country/folk music. The lyrics can be hard to understand due to them sometimes no making sense to me and at other times they're muffled.
Discount Jim Croce
it was alright
Pretty boring. A worse Syd Barrett.
Liked Little Hands and Diana. The rest was not for me. The emphasis of a psychedelic core was a little overbearing.
Tää on varmaan joku legendaarinen kaveri, vähä valjuksi jää.
Can't see anything special there
This album is mental. So is Skip apparently. Most of this is pretty poor and Lawrence of Euphoria is a genuine contender for the worst song I’ve ever heard. But also quite a few songs on here I really liked so he gets a 2
Bob Dylan-Lite but with an even worse singing voice, which I didn’t even think was possible
Sunshine of your love reference was my favorite part. Didn't really know what to make of this album. It was long, and quiet, a little boring but the singer's voice was interesting and the fact that this was called 'a soundtrack to schizophrenia' by reviewers... makes me wonder how to learn from it.
Mumbling singer-songwriter whose lyrics and musicianship have lost a bit of the way. Too much acid, without the soul or funk.
Gar nicht meins...
Did not enjoy
Another mumbling American whose genius is "misunderstood". Can play the axe tho. And chase his former band mates with one...
Es un álbum curioso y entiendo que esté en la lista, pero no me parece que haya coherencia a lo largo de las canciones. Eso sí, me sorprende que saliera en 1969.
The circumstances around the creation of this album are interesting (and a bit sad), but I can't say Columbia were wrong to think it's bad.
Ihme settiä taas, säälikakkonen
Don’t really dig this. It’s got a Leonard Cohen feel to it, just not as interesting. It’s an achievement to do a whole album solo but this could have benefitted from a little bit more accompaniment. Moses and Dixie feel like highlights for me. Very unlikely I’ll revisit this one.
This album definitely needs background reading to really be appreciated. But that's a pretty bad thing in my book. I'm judging this album purely on its musical merits and the music simply can't quite stand by itself. I'll give the guy that he was a surprisingly varied singer and that the instrumentation is very simple but passable, considering he did it all himself. I'll also give him that the music is full of feeling. But even considering that - these are only demos and they definitely sound like demos. In that light, a 2 (would give 2.5 if I could) is a pretty good score. If the music were fully fleshed out, played by a band and produced in a good quality, this would probably be a 4 with a possibility of going on 5. I liked Books of Moses, that one had a Doors vibe.
Zoals de beschrijving beloofde een erg sombere plaat. Het verhaal erachter is op zijn minst opmerkelijk, maar de muziek spreekt me niet aan
So interesting low country/psychedlic rock but I just found it too meandering.
So I don’t really love this album so far. It’s not terrible, but I don’t really like his voice and singing style all that much. Honestly, I don’t even want to listen to the whole album. It’s just not my jam.
A bit too folk country for me
Interesting listen but not one i am likely to repeat.
"What if every single folk album from the 60s except maybe slightly more dull?" It seems like Skip was just noodling around, thinking about maybe writing a few songs, and someone accidentally recorded it. AND YET SOMEHOW THERE'S LIKE 90 MINUTES OF ALBUM HERE. I forgot every song literally 2 seconds after it ended.
12th October 2021 Mainly listened in the shower while at home home. Really interesting to read about Alexander spence and his struggles with mental health and how he wrote this album while in an asylum. I like that he was left totally alone in the studio and recorded all of this all on his own with the tapes running.
Un altre descobriment de la llista, disc en solitari d'aquest Jefferson Airplane tancat per esquizofrènia. Em resulta més destacable pel seu posi històric (sembla que les composicions van ser gestades durant la seva estada al frenopàtic) que pels seus resultats. Folk rock psicodèlic, a mig camí entre l'intimisme depressiu d'un Nick Drake o el folk piscodèlic d'un Syd Barret amb tonades que semblen provinents de la seva banda mare. El conjunt, però, no destaca per una inspiració de primer nivell
i mean… okay for a literal insane person it wasn’t that terrible… yes i would never voluntarily listen to it again however i have to give him a little credit for doing this while he’s him
The guy on the cover looks smacked off his tits. the music is way to indie/Psychedelic/surreal for me. 2/5
A bit slow and dreary for me. Has a country twang to it. Decent album
Heartbreaking. The guy has talent. I like his singing style, and the mixing is impressive despite the fact he plays all the instruments. Doesn't sound too bad either. The best tracks are in the first half. Songwriting is unique and whimsical, and I appreciate his efforts, but they aren't particularly remarkable by any means. He has some diversity in his tracks, but the majority are misses. My favorite track is the psychedelic "War in Peace," although I'm also partial to "Margaret-Tiger Rug." I honestly do feel bad for the guy. His life sucks, and he tries to do something creative, but it doesn't hit the mark.
Real weird. That's not necessarily a bad thing and I thought I might like it after the first song but it quickly devolved into indecipherability after that.
Was a weird album. Then I read the wiki and get why. My heart already belongs to one psychedelic 60s rock icon who was certifiably insane and institutionalized. I don't need another. This guy didn't even mention 2 headed dogs once
Sorry, Spence, but it's a Skip
Does not like his voice... the style is too under the weather
He’s a hippy
Not a fan
the mumbles of a vagabond hippie street musician. Protip: the original issue of this ended after Grey/Afro
Very lame psychedelia. Not a fan
Honestly, the story behind this album was far better than the music in it. It sounds like a bunch of demos that never got to get finished - which, spoiler alert, it was.
I generally like psychedelic music. Not this one though.
countryblues. I'm sure it's a sad story behind the record, but I just couldn't get into it.
2, interesting lore for this but ultimately not very enjoyable
Became dull after a bit
This didn’t do much for me. Nothing stood out. Now, it may have been because of a head wind and hills but I don’t think so.
Not necessarily bad, just extremely dull. It was much more interesting reading about this guy than listening to his music.
Psychedelic rock, probably would sound great while tripping, but I don't dabble in that so it was a bit boring.
boring and mumbling
Wat een ge-dooie-mol.
Schijnt dus de oude drummer te zijn van Jefferson Airplane. Buiten dat vond ik het maar weinig vermeldingswaardig.
Dit had mij zomaar positief kunnen verrassen maar vandaag niet. Ikvond het erg langdradig
Just nonsense - interesting story, but really not worth a listen
Fine but dull
Kind of good but kind of not also. Wouldn’t come back.
Not pretty enough to have so little energy.
This struck me as 60s de rigeur
Ok start, rough finish.
Very pleasant, but got bored
Not the biggest fan, uneven quality across the songs. Singer has a good voice which matches the tone of some songs better than others on this album
hard to get through. almost unbearable.
Could barely make it through the first few tracks and you want me to do this 22 times? No thanks. Horrible.
Ein Album wie eine Wurzelbehandlung!
Without knowing the context of this album, I would have given it one star. I'm giving it one star anyway because I'll never listen to it again. In context, there's some redemption to it, but altogether sad...
Jos T Rex oli köyhän miehen David Bowie, niin tämä oli köyhän miehen Bob Dylan. Levy oli turhan pitkä ja mielestäni muutenkin aika turhanpäiväinen ja yllätyksetön. Ensimmäisen 20min jälkeen kuuntelu oli lähinnä kellon vilkuilua.
Not as bad as lenny but pretty bad
O Diana I’m in pain!!!! Mate we are all pain listening to this shit. I got to the 3 song and had suicidal thoughts if I had to listen anymore. Hope u didn’t waste ur money on producing this pile of 💩
I did not know any of the songs and I did not care for any of the songs. I could have died without hearing this album.
Alexander Spence has to be the luckiest man to ever live for two reasons: 1) He stumbled across someone that thought his music was worth a record deal and 2) this album slipped through the cracks when someone was making the list of 1001 greatest albums. 1/10.
This album was far more interesting to read about than to listen to. Not sure what drugs I'd need to be on to actually enjoy it.
No, these musings, mutterings and noodlings are not for me.
If you enjoy hearing the real-time sounds of a guy singing songs with a terrible voice while in a mental breakdown with acoustic guitar in hand and sounding as if he's been awake for 24 hours drinking non-stop and sounding like he has never touched an instrument before, HAVE I GOT AN ALBUM FOR YOU... Nothing redeeming here - it sounds like a crude 4 track demo I would have made in my high school bedroom but without questionable language, fart noises, and silly giggling. Any/all of those would have improved things here. ...take "The Prison Song" - seriously, things like this make me unnecessarily angry. Not tuning the guitar/bass doesn't make it authentic - it makes it AWFUL. Sorry, that's not fair. It implies that tuning the guitars would have any effect on this - it wouldn't. <Please insert a gif of me diving headfirst through a skyscraper window here>. I love reading and hearing about the history of pop/rock music and what-if stories but honestly what the absolute bloody hell. Here's a what-if: what if this album never saw the light of day? It would have allowed anything else in the history of earth onto this 1001 list. 0/10 1 star only because I tried digging lower and there's nothing underneath.
Hated it. Just all sounded the same.
Got as far as broken heart before my will to live was similarly broken. What a load of melancholic guff.
Demasiado plano, casi sin ritmo y sin voz destacable. Le falta de todo
“Teetering near the precipice of sanity.”
You ever wonder how it feels to have to walk across a super muddy field? Where your foot sinks in all the way to your knee every step. If so listen to this album. I swear time literally slowed while listening to it. 22 songs and not 1 was worth a second play. Not sure why this is on the list. You must have to be on a few hits of acid or a fist full of shrooms to know.
Music is okay. Not a fan of the mumbling rambling singing style so far. Reading about the guys life is sad and tragic and puts into prospective the music he created. While interesting, the music isn't my favorite and you definitely need to be in a certain mood to listen to it. War in Peace the album has come alive a bit, still going to keep listening. Back to a slow folksy sound that doesn't excite me much. War in Peace is probably my favorite track.
the "skip" in his name is actually due to the fact you'll find yourself wanting to skip every song in this album
I usually like a lot of early psych music but this is just incoherent ramblings of some hippie fried on LSD
Ha ha, very funny. Now can you please remove it from the list again. I feel sorry for those who would still have to endure it.
Did not enjoy
Wat was dit? Dit klonk als een zeer ongeinspireerde licht beschonken zwerver.
Little hands is an ok opener with some grunge and psychedelic rock elements but the album just goes way down from there. Sounds like a drugged out man trying to sing songs he half remembers the words to
Would happily ‘skip’ this one
I feel context is important with this one. I didn’t know that it was a three track solo demo by a guy who just got out of a mental home. Having said that, it sounds just like you would imagine.