ALMOST THERE | ISSUE NINE
Keep your mind open
A juicy slice of sixties psychedelia.
No. 3 Ultimate Spinach, ‘Your Head is Reeling.’
Counter culture and crass over-commercialisation do not mix. One only needs to recall such feeble attempts to cash in on the 1967 Summer of Love as the ‘spot a hippy’ bus tours around Haight Ashbury or the rash of hurriedly released flower power exploitation films for confirmation of that. Another unsubtle attempt to jump on the psychedelic bandwagon was the marketing project that came to be known as the ‘Bosstown Sound’.
The idea, devised by record producer Alan Lorber, was to create a music scene on the East Coast to rival the vibrancy (and presumably the profitability) of what was happening in San Francisco. Whatever its merits, many viewed the Bosstown concept with suspicion, if not downright hostility, right from the start. For one thing much of advertising used to promote the scheme rang false and sounded like it had been written by men in suits trying to look cool, which was almost certainly the case. For another, the idea that there was an original, distinctive yet homogenous new sound emanating from Boston was hardly credible: the first three bands held up to showcase Bosstown- Ultimate Spinach, The Beacon Street Union and Orpheus, didn’t sound the least bit like one another. Sadly the negative vibes created by all the marketing hype served to obscure the fact that some genuinely good music did come out of Boston at that time.
Ultimate Spinach were formed in 1967 by classically trained multi-instrumentalist Ian Bruce-Douglas. The band were relatively unknown and still playing small gigs in the Boston area when they were spotted by Lorber and signed up for the Bosstown project. Under his direction they released two fine albums, Ultimate Spinach and Behold and See (both 1968) but the relationship between Lorber and Bruce-Douglas never seems to have been that cordial and the latter left later that year, effectively signalling the end of Ultimate Spinach. Bruce-Douglas had been the main creative force behind the band: lead singer, guitarist, keyboard player and principal song writer. However in those days bands often did not even own their own name, and Lorber was able to create a new Ultimate Spinach (with only one original member remaining) in order to put out a third album, Ultimate Spinach III. Perhaps not surprsingly it is a disappointing LP and has nothing in common with the other two.
Your Head is Reeling, taken from the band’s first album, is a real psych stomper I believe compares favourably
with anything coming out of the West Coast at the time.
The self-titled first album
Click on the Dansette to listen to
Your Head is Reeling