Young Singer of the Year at the 2015 Opera Awards, Nicky Spence joins the highly praised accompanist Malcolm Martineau, just honoured with an OBE, in this unique collection of French songs from the turn of the last century, a repertoire that was very rarely performed in public at that time, the concept of the song recital still in the future.
No one except psychedelic Renaissance man Alexander "Skip" Spence could have created an album such as Oar. Alternately heralded as a "soundtrack to schizophrenia" and a "visionary solo effort," Oar became delegated to cut out and bargain bins shortly after its release in the spring of 1969. However those who did hear it were instantly drawn into Spence's inimitable sonic surrealism. As his illustrious past in the Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Moby Grape would suggest, this album is a pastiche of folk and rock. In reality, however, while these original compositions may draw from those genres, each song has the individuality of a fingerprint. As a solo recording, Oar is paramount as Spence performed and produced every sound on the album himself at Columbia Records studios in Nashville in the space of less than two weeks.
Thomas Spence's 'Grand Repository' differs from the many English pronouncing dictionaries produced in the late eighteenth century firstly in that it was intended primarily for the lower classes, and secondly in that it used a truly 'phonetic' script in the sense of one sound = one symbol. In this unique account, Joan Beal pays attention to the actual pronunciations with a view to reconstructing what was felt to be 'correct' pronunciation in eighteenth-century Britain.