An early member of Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape, Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence was one of the most mercurial presences in a West Coast psychedelic music scene that wasn’t exactly short on them. After two albums with the Grape, drug-induced psychosis sent Spence to Bellevue Hospital; on leaving, he drove a motorcycle down to Nashville to make Oar. It’s easy to see these lonesome, braying songs as singing out of hard times, and sure, there’s an element of that, but Spence’s material is too eloquent and rich in wisdom to be mere damaged psychedelic reverie. “Little Hands” and “War In Peace” are whispers of high-flying visions; “Cripple Creek” and “Weighted Down” are deep, dank blues numbers; the lengthy “Grey/Afro” is a thread of circular logic, slowly unspooling. It’s one man’s account of a world placed into question.

Jon Dale