ULTIMATE SPINACH: top quality pretentious psychedelia

9th November 2016

Title: Behold & See

Label: Sundazed 

Ultimate Spinach’s second album (there would be three in total) may be a muted variant of the band’s debut but it continues to push the essence of the Bosstown Sound. That is, the product of arranger, Alan Lorber, who wanted to physically create a music scene in his home town of Boston. The Monkees proved that you could manufacture a band, he wanted to manufacture an entire scene. The prime bands that were manoeuvred into this plan were Orpheus and this outfit. The results tended to be overly sincere psychedelia which borrowed too much from the West Coast. Despite the pretentiousness of the approach and the featured ideas, there is still much here for the psychedelic fan to enjoy: even though the San Francisco bands hated them. If you don’t take the LP too seriously and enjoy it for what it is, Behold & See is a fun album for period fans. Arguably the best LP in the band’s roster.

There is a tremendous sense of ‘period’ clarity from this LP, in mastering terms, that is reflected well in the vocal presentation. For example, Carol Lee Britt’s vocal on the track Gilded Lamp of the Cosmos has a slight nasal edge to it, giving it an edge that is successfully tracked by the mastering without tipping into distortion. That vocal contrasts well with the smooth and more easy going Ian Bruce-Douglas, the ‘brains’ behind the outfit. This localised detail, the soft focused approach to the rhythm guitar and the popping dynamics from the xylophone on Jazz Thing all indicate that original master tapes were used to produce this LP. There is a mature dynamic quality about the LP, tinted slightly with late 60s mastering studio valve kit no doubt, that not only gives this LP a sense of time and place but effectively conveys the often complex arrangements.