Spine 96 - Spine 96 (Off the Hip)
What a great cover! I mean, what a fucking great cover! And the inside is really interesting too. Now for the music. 14 songs of it.
I had no idea what to expect other than it’s on Off the Hip, and that apparently there’s a Green Circles connection, they’re from Adelaide, and this was recorded 20 years ago and there will be no reformation, no live gigs. There’s also no bio, no lyric sheet, no other info bar a negative-style image of the band, so … if I get these lyrics wrong, blame the band. Bastards.
So you’d better dig it ‘cos this is all there is.
If I had to give one description to ‘Spine 96’ it would be Venus rising from the garage, the half-shell being a snapshot of mid-90s rock. Of course, on the other hand you can kinda imagine the band working to take R’n’B forward in a London pub off the Old Kent Road in mid-’67 ("Justine" or "Appurtenant", for example, are old-time groovy). Also, lines like "we are nowhere/ fuckin’ nowhere" are pure Adelaide. I mean, people I know describe it as "Sadelaide", and I must agree.
Spine 96 must’ve been damned interesting to see. There’s harmonies, beautiful playing, some well-worked out songs. The second, ‘Heartbeat’, is Nick Drake-ish, for example, with some fuzzy guitars and judiciously placed synth layered over the top. It’s great.
"Blind" is equally idiosyncratic, soaring, rather glorious and muzzy at the same time. ‘Now I’m blind I can see…’
I won’t go on - I’ve given "Spine 96" four bottles, but there’s an even chance you’ll give it more. There’s a wealth of inspiration here, and with such quality songs one wonders why on earth they split up. I don’t really want to know why, of course. But the songs - because that’s all we have - indicate a band which … well. They shoulda been big.
I wish I’d seen them live. I wish I still could. I wish you could. But this is all there is. "Spine 96" is a grower, a keeper, and you really do need this in your collection.