Rediscovering Oar

Chatting with a friend the other day, we stumbled onto the topic of ‘legendary’ or ‘landmark’ records. We made little distinction between those two labels and that of ‘infamous’ but a few titles tumbled out onto the table. “Pet Sounds” was one of the first and, when my friend noted that he hadn’t dug it for years after first listening until he learned more about its genesis, I expressed a bit of shock and countered with a confession of my own.

“A classic album stands up on its own whether you know its history or even like the music. Hell, you couldn’t have gotten me to like My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” back in the 90’s but I could tell that they were doing something powerful on there.”

(That’s true. In the mid-nineties, while I was expanding my musical vocabulary with older music across the boards of rock, pop, jazz, and folk, I neglected much of the contemporary material. I’ve been working to rectify this over the past ten years.)

As our discussion progressed, he asked me about Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence’s acclaimed solo record, “Oar”. Was it really a masterpiece as he’d often heard? Who was Skip Spence, anyway? Continue reading