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Spirit - The Original Potato Land CD (album) cover

THE ORIGINAL POTATO LAND

Spirit

 

Proto-Prog

4.71 | 5 ratings

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Dragontrouser
5 stars The original recordings on this CD are a better reflection of the effort Spirit gave to the Potatoland project during 1972/3 compared to the belated 1981vinyl "Adventues in Potatoland" (Rhino Records etc). The belated 1981 issue provided a rather watered-down and confused mix of tracks, embellished by some contemporary disco or popular music influences on overdubs and re-recorded parts, to promote sales in the new decade of the 1980s. This contrasts with the thoroughly imaginative, unconventional and free-thinking way in which the work was originally conceived and performed, as shown on this release.

Although the tracks are less well produced - and without the finishing touches and overall production quality etc of the 1981 release - they better capture the free feeling, inspiration and extent of the truly quite bizarre adventure of Captain Kopter and Commander Cassidy on their rather special trip. For those who dont know, the story of the album begins as the pair leave a motorway to follow a previously unseen exit to Potatoland (Junction 27) out of curiosity, hoping to find an escape from the boredom of everyday life, like finding love.

Even if their playing is not as tight. precise or careful as it could be, or their special effects as convincing or powerful (in hi-fidelity terms at least) as contemporary standards, there is great camaraderie, humour and originality here, along with awesome playing. The album is a total antidote to all self important and/or pretentiously elaborate prog-rockers everywhere. The band get to the spirit of what they are doing and you just want to be there with them 100% all the way. Amidst the off-the-wall humour and silliness there is more Orwellian darkness too than was hinted at back in 1981.

The CD also contains some bonus previously unknown live tracks from 1972, where they are also really in-form, with Randy California producing some top Hendix-like work with wild fuzz guitar.

This is just about my favourite Spirit work - recommended alongside Twelve Dreams and the best of the rest of their earlier work for conventional musical reasons. However, for the comic-book clarity of the proceedings, the humanitarian and environmentalist leanings of the songwriting, or for other reasons like simply wanting to be on board in the message, there is perhaps no equal in their catalogue for me. A truly unique adventure and a classic even though it was unfinished back in the day, and remains so..

Dragontrouser | 5/5 |

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