(Sevens, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, pays tribute to the art of the individual song.)
I want you to listen to this song, so I’ll ask that you trust me and not let the following several sentences sway you from doing so. The arrival of Ultimate Spinach’s 1968 debut album was derided by critics as nothing more than a Boston-based, commercially driven, cash-in project aping the recent West coast “psychedelia” craze. Or so we’re told. Ironically, for me, this has always added to the tracks appeal much in the same way I love the bubble-gum pop & rock one hit wonders of the 1950s and ’60s. Sometimes there is real art to be found in the artifice — whether it is intentional or not. It is true that the album from which this track is culled often feels thin and sounds more than a little Johnny-come-lately, but in the span of its eight minutes “(Ballad Of) The Hip Death Goddess” is a bizarre pre-fabricated gem.
A couple of years ago, while digging for information on the track, I discovered Little Hits, a (now defunct) music blog, that featured an edit of “..Goddess” shaving off a good four and half minutes. In their post, the Little Hits gang described the essence of the track, stating “in hindsight, “Goddess”…sung by the chillingly seductive Barbara Hudson, sounds like a deadpan parody of psychedelic malarkey taken to a logical extreme.” And that, for me, is exactly what makes the song so enjoyable. Remember, this is early 1968 — this is the sound of a new sub-genre of rock music as seen through the lens of a group 3,000 miles away from its origins in the Haight of San Francisco. Hudson’s vocals sound more Nico than Grace Slick, and if I didn’t know better would swear that guitar line was purloined from Van Morisson’s “T.B. Sheets.”
“(Ballad Of) The Hip Death Goddess” has found its way onto several mixtapes over the years and makes semi-regular appearances on my radio show. Someone needs to cover this. Maybe that someone is you.
MP3: Ultimate Spinach :: (Ballad of) The Hip Death Goddess (edit)
MP3: Ultimate Spinach :: (Ballad Of) The Hip Death Goddess