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Ultimate Spinach

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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Ultimate Spinach Ultimate Spinach album cover
3.37 | 29 ratings | 2 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1968

Songs / Tracks Listing

1.Ego Trip (3:14)
2.Sacrifice of the Moon [In Four Parts] (3:46)
3.Plastic Raincoating/Hung Up Minds (2:56)
4.(Ballad of) The Hip Death Goddess (8:14)
5.Your Head Is Reeling (3:40)
6.Dove In Hawk's Clothing (3:54)
7.Baroque #1 (4:48)
8.Funny Freak Parade (2:35)
9.Pamela (3:09)

Line-up / Musicians

-Ian Bruce-Douglas/ Keyboards,Guitars,Harmonica, Theremin, Wood Flutes, Sitar,Vocals,Vibraphone,12-String Bass Guitar
-Barbara Hudson/ Vocals, Guitar
-Keith Lahteninen/ Drums,Percussion, Vocals
-Ted Myers/ Guitar,Vocals
-Richard Nese/ Bass
-Geoffrey Winthrop/ Guitar,Sitar,Vocals

Releases information

MGM E4518 (Mono) [1968]
MGM SE4518 (Stereo) [1968]

Thanks to alucard for the addition
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ULTIMATE SPINACH Ultimate Spinach ratings distribution

(29 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ULTIMATE SPINACH Ultimate Spinach reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars If you are looking for that totally unique sound known as 60s psychedelic rock, you have found it here. Like any other genre, there is good psych and bad. This album is pretty good but not quite great. If the lead guitarist had been a bit better it would have helped.

Like most psychedelic bands the Spinach displays a wide diversity of styles. Some songs sound a bit like Doors styled keyboard driven blues rockers. Other songs that feature female vocalist Debra Hudson are more similar to Curved Air or Its a Beautiful Day. There are also some short instrumental passages that are reminiscent of similar cuts on early Moody Blues records.

The songwriting and arranging are excellent. All the songs were written by the highly skilled keyboardist Bruce Ian-Douglass. The vocals sound good and drummer Keith Lahteinen displays the jazz and RnB influences that were expected of "hippie" drummers back then. Producer Alan Lorber fills the album with great psychedelic sound effects such as reverb and tape loop echo, but rarely reverts to cheap panning effects.

The overall sound and the psychoactive lyrics definitely belong to the 60s and that is why I am only recommending this album for fans of early psychedelic rock or people who want to check out this colorful and creative genre.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars Ultimate Spinach are an interesting band in that their existence was a result of the MGM label attempting to capitalize on the popularity of West Coast psych music by creating a completely contrived East Coast psych-pop ‘scene’ in the latter sixties. Ultimate Spinach were the flagship of this effort, which withered rather quickly at a time when beat and intellectual folk rock were still the dominant influences over Boston-area counter culture.

Not that the band didn’t make a decent go of things. Band leader Ian Bruce-Douglas was an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and briefly prolific songwriter who left behind several psych classics, mostly from this album. “Ballad of the Hip Death Goddess” is a very well-constructed eight-minute psych dirge that matches the best of West Coast bands like Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna and the like, and still makes appearances on the occasional late-night FM radio show or flashback podcast. “Plastic Raincoats” was more poppish but equally period-appropriate to a 1967 sound that owed as much to the Beatles and Kinks as it did to later variants like Country Joe and Todd Rundgren.

In the end though this is undeniably a commercial attempt to clone true progressive psych music, and lacks somewhat in dirty, earthy authenticity. The musicianship is excellent, and Barbara Hudson delivers seductive and engaging vocals to give the band an overall appeal that should have gotten them further on the charts than they managed to achieve.

Bruce-Douglas would hold the group together for another album the following year which would be even slightly more polished, but that appears to have been enough for him as he and the rest of the group departed shortly after. Hudson would become the centerpiece for a new lineup that featured mostly journeyman, professional musicians for a decidedly commercial third album to close out the sixties. There is apparently still a band operating under the name Ultimate Spinach today, but with no original members and little of the old repertoire there’s not much to attract prog music fans.

This album and band gets mentioned a fair amount among progressive and psych music circles even today, but given their highly commercial and contrived origins I’m not sure they deserve the elevated status often ascribed to them. This is a good but not great album, worth picking up but not taking too seriously. Three stars and mildly recommended to fans of the late-sixties psych era, but don’t expect to have your mind blown.


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