Monday, 31 January 2011

Spirit - (S/T US 1968) Heavy Psych. Great stuff!

–SPIRIT –1968(US)heavypsych Spirit's debut unveiled a band that seemed determine to out-eclecticize everybody else on the California psychedelic scene, with its melange of rock, jazz, blues, folk-rock, and even a bit of classical and Indian music. Teenaged Randy California immediately established a signature sound with his humming, sustain-heavy tone; middle-aged drummer Ed Cassidy gave the group unusual versatility; and the songs tackled unusual lyrical themes, like "Fresh Garbage" and "Mechanical World." As is often the case in such hybrids, the sum fell somewhat short of the parts; they could play more styles than almost any other group, but couldn't play (or, more crucially, write) as well as the top acts in any given one of those styles. There's some interesting stuff here, nonetheless; "Uncle Jack" shows some solid psych-pop instincts, and it sounds like Led Zeppelin lifted the opening guitar lines of "Taurus" for their own much more famous "Stairway to Heaven."

Randy California (guitar, vocals)ay Ferguson (vocals, percussion)
Mark Andes (bass)
Ed Cassidy (drums) J
ohn Locke (keyboards)

1 Fresh-Garbage 3:11
2 Uncle Jack 2:44
3 Mechanical World 5:15
4 Taurus 2:37
5 Girl in Your eye 3:15
6 Straight Arrow 2:50
7 Topanga Windows 3:36
8 Gramophone Man 3:49
9 Water Woman 2:11
10 The Great Canyon Fire in General 2:46
11 Elijah 10:42 bonus track
12 Veruska 2:50
13 Free Spirit 4:27
14 If I Had a Woman 3:11
15 Elijah (Alternate Take) 9:42

Spirit were america’s equivalent of Traffic -an accomplished, stylish psychedelic heavy-progressive outfit with consistently excellent songwriting. Very, very colorful music. Their albums sold quite well, charting in the 20’s although they seem to be less celebrated than they deserve to be, possibly because critics tend to mark down most of the psychedelic music of the era. They are one of very few groups to record three near classic albums in psychedelic mode. They just failed to record a good hit single to lodge them in the public consciousness, which is surprising given the quality of their songwriting. They were closer to their British equivalents in style and technique than almost any other American band.