Year of Release: 2003
Label: Snapper Classics
Catalog Number: SDPC119
Total Time: 77:39:00
The Ozrics are a band that have quite a cult following over here in Blighty, and in spite of media indifference, their albums are always well stocked in the mainstream shops and their gigs always sell very well. Judging by the traffic on the band's (temporarily defunct) message board they also seem to have lots of friends in the US, but because of label and financial hassles the band haven't been back to those shores for a while. So the reissue of this album is slightly ironic in that it was recorded in front of a US audience a few years ago, during the pioneering days of internet streaming. The set was then pressed into a CD but demand was so high that stores actually had their orders cut back to ensure as wide a distribution as possible. Inevitably the CD then disappeared and fans had to be content with bootleg copies, until now. Re-pressed, and with a new digi-pack cover, Spice Doubt is back in the racks and at a budget price too!
This album is a live-in-the-studio production, which means that you get the raw one-take feel, and excellent sound into the bargain. It's great to be able to hear Jon's distinctive woodwind contributions on this set, because I've found on the other live albums that the woodwind instruments tend to get lost in the mix. Overall, the sound is a bit heavier than the other live albums, but the mix has clarity and depth and stands up well when you turn the volume up.
"Cat DNA" opens the set with twinkling synths and a spiraling guitar solo, very reminiscent of Steve Hillage's style, gently easing the listener into the vibe before drums and bass kick in and off we go on the cosmic tour that is "Spice Doubt Streaming." It's rock, but not as we know it Jim. Just as you think the song is settling down into familiar riff territory, the band throw a curve-ball and go off in a different direction, usually in a flurry of freak-out soloing.
"Eternal Wheel" slows things down to a more ambient frame of mind, with a repeated sequence of synth notes attuning the senses to the new vibe. Even when the guitars and rhythm section take over, the mellow, inspirational vibe, continues, as the song winds its way round the ears, and the eventual arrival of the synths and keyboard textures is just bliss. The song breaks out into more guitar and synth jamming while the bass keeps the tempo steady and assured, before a satisfying fade-out.
"Sploosh!" is one of the band's most exciting tracks live, with its insistent synth-riff pumping the song along, and when the drums and bass tumble in, you can't sit still to this one. On both occasions that I've seen the band live, this is the one that gets everyone in the audience grooving as one, like some sort of tribal convergence. The sound on this version is particularly good, with some of the bass notes on the keyboards so deep that they rumble across the floor and all the way up my legs.
After such rhythmic intensity, "Ahu Belahu" is a welcome ambient interlude, accompanied by waterfall samples that would not sound out of place in the Amazonian forests. And from there it's off to the land of sand with "Papyrus" which, naturally enough, has the kind of melody that you associate with the Pharaohs, and a groove that would have the snakes swaying out their baskets without any encouragement.
"Oolite Groove And Citadel Jam" opens with a superbly melodic guitar solo accompanied by swirling keyboards before spiraling down into an extended jam that allows the band to open up and flex their fingers. At times the guitar sounds like more Hillage, other times it sounds akin to a spaced out Alex Lifeson. The jam also shows how well the band gel together as you've no idea which direction they'll take things in, but no one sounds out of place. Same goes for the track "Myriapod".
"Oddentity" is another of these songs that I just have to get up and groove to. It was used as the opener on the last tour to great effect, and the combination of the driving bass-line and the call-and-reply melody of the guitar and the keyboards is irresistible. It also gives the-then drummer Rad an opportunity to show his stamina and inventiveness on the skins. "Dissolution" on the other hand is Ed's showcase. An oldie from the first fully metamorphosised album Pungent Effulgent (as opposed to the six demo tapes later re-pressed onto CD) which begins with an amazing blur of guitar notes gradually picking up speed and intensity before the band blast the song off into the stratosphere.
The closing track "Spice Doubt" was written especially for this set, and you can tell because of the loose improvised nature of the song. On repeated plays it grows on you, but I often think that it's a bit of an antic-climatic way to close the set. Then again, the Ozrics are hardly the kind of band to resort to the cliché of closing with the 'big number', and as the song has hardly ever been played since this live set, it's a bonus attraction for fans who already have the other live albums.
This is a nice little introduction to the Ozrics for beginners, as the band perform a set that perfectly sums up what they're about. The label describes the album as a sort of greatest hits, which is perhaps slightly wide of the mark (unless you count the success of "Sploosh!" as a single), but it is representative of their different styles, and the live setting is a bonus as the newcomer gets a chance to hear the band in their most inspired element.
Cat DNA / Eternal Wheel / Sploosh! / Ahu Belahu / Papyrus / Oolite Groove and Citadel Jam / Oddentity / Dissolution / Myriapod / Spice Doubt
Ed Wynne - guitars and synths
Jon Egan - flutes and woodwind
Seaweed - synths and samples
Zia - bass
Rad - drums and percussion
Tantric Obstacles (1985/1994)
Live Ethereal Cereal (1986/1994)
There Is Nothing (1986/1994)
Sliding Gliding Worlds (1988/1994)
The Bits Between The Bits (1989/1994)
Pungent Effulgent (1989/1990*)
Sploosh/Live Throbbe (12-inch single) (1991)
Afterswish (comp.) (1991)
Live Underslunky (1992)
Jurassic Shift (1993/1998)*
Vitamin Enhanced Ozric Tentacles (6 CDs) (1994)
Arborescence (3-sided LP w/extra track) (1994)
Become The Other (1995)
Curious Corn (1997)
Spice Doubt - Streaming A Gig In The Ether (ltd ed webcast live CD) (1998/2003)
Floating Seeds (remix album w/var. artists)(1999)
Waterfall Cities (1999)
The Hidden Step (2000)
Swirly Termination (2000)**
Pyramidion (ep) (2001)
Oakum (Ozric fan club only) (2001)
Live At The Pongmasters Ball (CD/DVD) (2002)
Spirals In Hyperspace (2004)
Eternal Wheel, The Best of Ozric (2004)
The Floor's Too Far Away (2006)
Nodens Ictus - Spacelines (2000)
*CD has extra track; **not an official or recognized OT release
Genre: Psychedelic-Space Rock