Friday, 6 November 2009

Spirit -The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus (1970)

Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus was a largely successful, and decently grossing, album released by the psychedelic rock ensemble Spirit. Produced by David Briggs, who is best known for his work with Neil Young, its 1970 publication, undertaken by record label Epic, came shortly before the original group disbanded.

This loosely-based, sci-fi concept album is a diverse yet cohesive effort, and long considered by fans, critics and musicians alike to be one of the finest albums ever recorded.The album's second song is the keynote track "Nature's Way", the most notable hit (along with "I've Got a Line on You") the band would ever produce. "Mr. Skin" also became a hit single in the U.S., three years after the album's release. The album also includes several other lesser-known tunes which are considered to have had an impact on the genre of experimental rock in the United States.

The album evidently had an influence on other groups -- the track "Morning Will Come" presaged the emerging glam rock trend and sounds strikingly similar to the music of Marc Bolan and T-Rex. The piano figure that opens the instrumental track "Space Child" so closely resembles the piano intro of the 1978 Steely Dan hit "FM" that it is almost certain that Steely Dan was making a musical reference to Spirit.

Just as in previous attempts, Spirit fused aspects of jazz and folk together with their traditional rock stylings, but unlike them, they introduced added elements of space rock, or popular music's science-fiction subset. This innovative LP is also notable as one of the first rock albums to use the newly-developed Moog synthesizer.

The album is characterized by an audacious blend of catchy pop and experimental sounds, as on the folkish, daring "Why Can't I Be Free" and the musically ambitious "Love Has Found A Way." Unfortunately, this was the band's final album. Randy California and Ed Cassidy continued to resurrect the Spirit name over the decades, but the perfectly balanced tensions of this original lineup were gone. Here, though, the supremely focused yet adventurous playing and writing make TWELVE DREAMS OF DR. SARDONICUS Spirit's finest hour.

Prelude - Nothin' to Hide
Nature's Way
Animal Zoo
Love Has Found a Way
Why Can't I Be Free
Mr. Skin
Space Child
When I Touch You
Street Worm
Life Has Just Begun
Morning Will Come