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SPIRIT

Proto-Prog • United States


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Spirit biography
Spirit is a legendary psychedelic rock band that has never managed to achieve great success although their albums, mainly their early ones are regarded by fans and critics as masterpieces.

Their history starts back in 1965, in San Francisco, when Ed Cassidy, an experient jazz drummer that played with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder among others, Randy California, a 14-year-old guitar player whose mother would marry Ed and Ed would become Randy┤s stepfather; Jay Fergusson and Mark Andes (Later Jo Jo Gunne) formed a band named The Red Roosters.

The band was shortlived and in 1966 Ed and Randy moved to New York where Ed started to play jazz venues. In New York Randy once saw a guy playing a guitar in a guitar shop and they started to discuss techniques. They became friends and Randy soon became a member of the Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, band which his new friend was the leader. They played for three months in Cafe Wha and then Chas Chandler discovered the band and invited Jimmy to go to the United Kingdom. Jimmy invited Randy to go with him but Randy couldn┤t since he was only 15. So Jimmy, whose real name was James Marshall Hendrix went to England and the rest is history.

In 1967 Ed and Randy returned to California and they met by chance Fergusson and Andes, the members of The Red Roosters and they formed a new band named Spirits Rebellious, which was shortened to Spirit. John Locke, an experient keyboardist joined then and in early 1968 they released their first album, a mix of psychedelia, blues and jazz. The jazz accent would be a trademark of their early albums, mainly in "The Family that Plays Together" and "Clear", two 1969 releases. The first contained their biggest hit, "I Got A Line on You". In 1970 they released the album considered by fans and critics their masterpiece: "Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus", featuring experimental sounds, good arrangements and some of their most solid compositions. The band broke up in 1971 due to tensions between the members and in 1971 Cassidy and Locke joined the Staehely brothers and released "Feedback" which has nothing to do with the original Spirit sound.

In 1973 Ed and Randy joined again and along with other musicians recorded "Potatoland" which was shelved and would be released only in 1981. Then they made their come-back in 1975 with "Spirit of '76" and released "Son of Spirit", "Farther Along" and "Future Games" before a break. "Farther Along" featured all original members except ...
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  • Mr Skin Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, 1970

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SpiritSpirit
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2008
Audio CD$3.83
$4.18 (used)
Original Album ClassicsOriginal Album Classics
Box set · Import
Sony UK 2011
Audio CD$16.74
$16.73 (used)
The Family That Plays TogetherThe Family That Plays Together
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2008
Audio CD$2.89
$2.88 (used)
Twelve Dreams of Dr SardonicusTwelve Dreams of Dr Sardonicus
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Repertoire 2007
Audio CD$7.86
$7.85 (used)
Spirit of 76Spirit of 76
Import · Remastered
Bgo - Beat Goes on 2004
Audio CD$11.31
$16.19 (used)
ClearClear
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2008
Audio CD$2.98
$2.97 (used)
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CD clear
SPIRIT
~ USD $6.56
CD twelve dreams of dr. sardonicus
SPIRIT
~ USD $11.32


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SPIRIT shows & tickets


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SPIRIT discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SPIRIT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.43 | 78 ratings
Spirit
1968
3.72 | 55 ratings
The Family That Plays Together
1968
3.83 | 49 ratings
Clear
1969
4.12 | 147 ratings
Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
1970
2.39 | 22 ratings
Feedback
1972
3.45 | 15 ratings
Spirit of '76
1975
2.98 | 16 ratings
Son Of Spirit
1975
2.62 | 14 ratings
Farther Along
1976
2.50 | 8 ratings
Future Games (A Magical-Kahauna Dream)
1977
2.63 | 10 ratings
The Adventures of Kaptain Kopter & Commander Cassidy in Potato Land
1981
1.56 | 9 ratings
The Thirteenth Dream/Spirit of '84
1984
2.25 | 4 ratings
Rapture In The Chambers
1989
2.33 | 3 ratings
Tent of Miracles
1990
3.76 | 6 ratings
California Blues
1996
3.83 | 10 ratings
Model Shop
2005

SPIRIT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 3 ratings
Made In Germany
1983
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live At La Paloma
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live From The Time Coast
2004
3.00 | 1 ratings
Rockpalast: West Coast Legends Vol.3
2010

SPIRIT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Spirit In Concert
2000

SPIRIT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.09 | 4 ratings
The Best Of Spirit
1973
3.00 | 3 ratings
Chronicles (1967-1992)
1991
4.00 | 7 ratings
Time Circle (1968-1972)
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
I Got A Line On You
1995
3.05 | 2 ratings
The Mercury Years
1997
2.00 | 2 ratings
Cosmic Smile
2000
3.00 | 2 ratings
Sea Dream
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Now Or Anywhere
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Eventide
2002
2.00 | 2 ratings
Blues from the Soul
2003
3.33 | 3 ratings
Son Of Spirit /Farther Along
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mojo Presents ... An Introduction To Spirit
2004
2.50 | 2 ratings
Future Games/Spirit Of '84
2005
3.00 | 1 ratings
Son Of America
2005
4.71 | 5 ratings
The Original Potato Land
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Original Album Classics
2010

SPIRIT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
1984
1984

SPIRIT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Spirit by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.43 | 78 ratings

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Spirit
Spirit Proto-Prog

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

2 stars In Good Spirit

This debut certainly has a 'feel good' spirit about it. Almost simultaneously with the start of the legal battle against Led Zeppelin (for apparently ripping off Spirit's "Taurus" to create "Stairway to Heaven") some 40+ years from Zep's "IV" release, I was presented with the first five albums of this band as a treat. And let me say the 'spirits' in this release can go high (but also low)...

To the untrained late 60's listener (such as myself), this may sound as a fusion of Brit psych pop in the vein of the more cheerful aspects of The Beatles and The Moody Blues (e.g. "Uncle Jack") with an intermittent injection of jazzier elements and the 'looseness' of some The Doors compositions - see for example the intriguing jazzy middle sections of "Fresh-Garbage" and "Gramophone Man". It appears to me that the album tilts more towards psych-pop than psychedelic rock and builds more on accessibility rather than mature song-writing. There are exceptions to this with the highlight "Mechanical World", a dark, slow, captivating composition with serious progressive leanings, a memorable solo and epic use of background keyboards. "Taurus", which follows, is a nice atmospheric interlude with a melody ahead of its time (as it has been proven to be!!).

The long "Elijah" is potentially the most innovative piece, which reminded me of The Doors in its main theme. Unfortunately, the jazzy improvisations derail the whole composition and the numerous returns to the main theme don't do much to save it. The rest of the album flows in a rather pleasant/ok mood but somehow 'directionless', with naive, albeit catchy at times, melodies.

Potentially ahead of its time, but seldom convincing for its potent, Spirit's debut may be a pleasant listening experience for the late 60's fans but somehow fails to maintain consistency and make a mark in my books. 2.5 stars.

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 Spirit by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.43 | 78 ratings

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Spirit
Spirit Proto-Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Forum & Site Admin Group Forum & Site Admin

4 stars Right at the outset, Spirit was a band that had a lot going for it. With their first album in 1968, they were active at a time when rock music was turning into an art form -- a medium for mixing and matching styles and influences, and seeing how interesting you could make it. The members of Spirit were seemingly united in their desire to take advantage of this new musical renaissance. The band hailed from Topanga Canyon near LA, neighbors of Neil Young and right in the middle of a frothy brew of local talent. Spirit also had chops galore - the Hendrix protege' Randy California was a commanding presence on guitar even at the age of 16, and John Locke (electric piano) and Ed Cassidy (drums) both had extensive jazz experience. The band even had the looks -- not exactly handsome, but striking, and the right look at the right time. Take a look at the back cover of this LP and tell me those guys weren't hip.

And yet, this debut album was just a bit too quirky, too unclassifiable, to really invade the public consciousness like it could have. Is it psychedelic rock? Blues? Jazz? What are those orchestral arrangements doing in there? Why are they singing about garbage cans and some Robin Hood character? All valid questions for the young audience at the time. Were Spirit too eclectic for their own good? Perhaps if they'd been a little easier to pin down, they might be as well known today as, say, Buffalo Springfield; and yet, they remain a relatively obscure band.

This debut album is sneaky. It never really shows you all of its cards. These songs often have surprisingly high-energy instrumental sections inserted in the middle of otherwise downbeat pop songs ("Fresh Garbage", "Straight Arrow", "Gramophone Man", "Topanga Windows"). They strongly suggest mainstream pop with their Marty Paich-arranged string parts, and yet everything else about the song screams "underground!" There's a 10-minute jazz instrumental closing the album ("Elijah"). To put it succinctly, the strange collision of styles on an essentially low-key, mellow album makes for a fascinating experience for listeners curious to hear how many different styles can all co-exist. Less sympathetic listeners would probably dismiss it as "unfocused", but I don't ever get the impression that the band wasn't sure what they were doing.

Not Spirit's absolute best album, but a pivotal first step, and pretty much set the tone for their next few albums. Jay Ferguson's lead vocals (he also writes most of the songs; future bandleader Randy California had not come into his own as a songwriter yet, notwithstanding the lovely instrumental "Taurus") are pretty tentative compared to his beautiful work on future albums, but his songcraft is already first-rate and eclectic as heck.

I like to think there is a parallel universe wherein Spirit are a household name like Hendrix. They really do seem to define the times they existed in, even as they continually throw curveballs on this puzzling but highly accomplished and successful debut album.

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 Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.12 | 147 ratings

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Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
Spirit Proto-Prog

Review by VOTOMS

5 stars "You have the world at your fingertips, no one can make it better than you." The same opening phrase is the last phrase of this Spirit work. A concept album? I don't know, but it's good. Dr. Sardonicus was the nickname for the Spirit mixing desk at the studio (maybe inspired by the Willian Castle's 1963 horror movie). The album have twelve tracks. So this is the Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus.

Randy California played in Hendrix's band The Blue Flames, and his second name was given by Hendrix to distinguish him - the band had two Randy guys, Randy Texas and California. This album was produced by David Briggs (Neil Young), and this is the only relevant piece in their full discography. And in my honest opinion - it's a brilliant album, from the first track to the last.

Prelude/Nothing To Hide start the album slowly and beautifully, so it suddenly turns into a great psychedelic rock and roll. The guitar tune is great, and the riffs too. According to the booklet, Nature's Way have been helping people fight against inner struggles since the album release. And of course, this song, together with Mr. Skin, are the best known songs from the band. Animal Zoo is easily one of the most influential psychedelic tracks at the 70s. But the crowd always used to joke with the lyrics ("much too fat and a little too long). Love Has Found a Way, Why Can't I Be Free and Space Child are spacey tracks, where John Locke use his keyboardskills, very catchy atmospheric stuff.From When I Touch You to the last track, you will find awesome and unique rock riffs!

An awesome album, essential one from any psych/prog rock collector.

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 Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.12 | 147 ratings

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Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
Spirit Proto-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars A masterful release by Spirit and a perfect snapshot of the strange transition period when psychedelic rock's time in the sun was coming to an end and progressive rock was emerging from its elder sibling's shadow, these Twelve Dreams of Dr Sardonicus take the listener on a wild and diverse trip, held between folky acoustic gentleness, psychedelic head trips, and some downright rocking numbers, often within the same song (just check out that incredible transition in Prelude - Nothin' to Hide!). Nature's Way is an absolutely incredible song which I could just listen to over and over again forever, but the whole album is an essential for psyche- prog fans.

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 Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.12 | 147 ratings

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Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
Spirit Proto-Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Spirit - Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus (1970)

Who can resist a good song?

The American group Spirit had already released three psych albums in the late sixties before this relatively 'normal' rockalbum was released, which is often seen as their best. The band impresses with it's long list of songs that all work really well, being both melodic and atmospheric. Perhaps Supertramp had a good listen too. When it comes to style it reminds me of same period The Who and Blue Oyster Cult. Rock with melodic twists, dual vocals, use of effects and keyboards and tiny bit of American glamour (which I'm not too fond of myself). Moreover, without the few progressive moments on the album I wouldn't have thought this had been a psychedelic rock act.

All songs flow into each other very naturally, exploring many emotional landscapes and varied ways of arrangements possibilities. Artistically, the broadness of ideas reminds me a bit of the better moments of the Beatles. Not a single song stands out for me, because I like all of them almost equally much. Sometimes the music has that typically American 'feel-good vibe', but it still works for me - which is saying a lot.

Conclusion. Not too much to say here except that it's a great early seventies rock album that should be engaged as such, not as a progressive work. Four stars and recommended to fans of the named bands and those who appreciate seventies quality song-writing and style in general. This album also has some 'missing-link'-like qualities.

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 Spirit by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.43 | 78 ratings

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Spirit
Spirit Proto-Prog

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I first heard the band Spirit through their acclaimed opus, THE TWELVE DREAMS OF DR. SARDONICUS, and it is still a jaw-dropping psych-pop album with trace influences of jazz and classical ideas. That album sounded very carefully constructed with great hooks, a serviceable yet tasty sense of variety and great replay value. SPIRIT, the album, is more aligned with jazz-pop with heavy psychedelic influences (of the times).

The big difference between this album and DR. SARDONICUS is the writing. DR. SARDONICUS was more evenly split between guitarist Randy California and singer Jay Ferguson (for the most part; keyboard player John Locke got some of his stuff through), and the quality of the output shows. Here on SPIRIT, the writing is almost entirely Ferguson's. While I'll get to the goodies in a bit, many of the songs like ''Topanga Windows'' and ''Uncle Jack'' sound rather unsure of themselves and amass to nothing.

The opener, ''Fresh Garbage'' is a treat with a memorable piano/bass hook, simple yet effective lyrics (particularly to those with a green agenda), a crisp, smooth vocal delivery and even a divergence into swinging jazz in the middle third of the tune. The tune ''Gramophone Man'' (a complete band effort) is similar, but with a tongue-and-cheek stab at radio-inclined music executives and more of a groove in the verses. Randy California's only solo contribution, ''Taurus'' is an okay guitar instrumental that's cute for five minutes because it sounds like the opening to one ''Stairway to Heaven''.

Other than the sinister mood of ''Mechanical World'', the rest of the album is a dud. Even the lengthy ''Elijah'' can't do anything to put SPIRIT on the upswing. In fact, it's the reason my rating is harsh because despite the jazzy melody, the tune pointlessly muddles into the ''everyone-gets-their-turn-to-solo'' snorefest that gets tiring fast.

If you love Spirit or West Coast '60s psych pop, get SPIRIT. Don't be too disappointed if you find this as mundane as I do.

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 The Adventures of Kaptain Kopter & Commander Cassidy in Potato Land by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.63 | 10 ratings

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The Adventures of Kaptain Kopter & Commander Cassidy in Potato Land
Spirit Proto-Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Forum & Site Admin Group Forum & Site Admin

2 stars A record with an interesting story. A goofy concept album originally recorded in 1974, it was shelved for years before it was cleaned up an finally released on Rhino Records in 1981. The original lineup of Spirit was long defunct by 1974, but Randy California and Ed Cassidy had still been putting out quality material as a duo (albeit much different from the original Spirit sound) for a few years.

The concept itself is pretty light, just a science fiction thing depicting a world in which the people are potatoes and carelessly march to their own demise in the fryer, or something like that. Within this scenario, our heroes, adventure seekers Kaptain Kopter (California) and Commander Cassidy (Cassidy) wander the landscape and comment on what they see. Bits of dialogue and sound effects come between some fully-fleshed out songs. Nothing really happens, though - it's just kind of goofy fun. On the other side of the record, we just have a few stand alone songs, including one that had to have been recorded in the 80s, the corny synth-dance piece "Potatoland Theme". On the whole, the album is mostly just a curiosity, not really the "lost classic" that true believers maintain it is, but it's a bit of fun and the songs are generally good to great - the best being the insanely catchy instant classic "Turn to the Right" and the even more jangly melodic "My Friend".

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 Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.12 | 147 ratings

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Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
Spirit Proto-Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Forum & Site Admin Group Forum & Site Admin

4 stars The "swan song" by the original, "classic" lineup of Spirit. Has the feel of a concept album, with songs linked together, and with 12 songs representing the 12 dreams, I guess. Randy California really comes into his own as a songwriter/singer here, setting the stage for his eventual domination of the group's direction. After this album, the group split for a while, with Ferguson and Andes forming Jo Jo Gunne. The group would eventually reform as Spirit, but for the most part, Randy California and Ed Cassidy remained the only consistent members from here on.

This is a delightfully diverse album, so why not take it track by track:

Side A

Prelude-Nothin' to Hide (R. California) - Short acoustic "prelude" (reprised at the end of the album) soon kicks into a lively rock tune with some pretty sick slide playing. Slightly odd lyrics like "We've got nothing to hide / We're married to the same wife"

Nature's Way (R. California) - After "I Got a Line on You", probably their best known song. The eco-rock anthem par excellence. Based on a solo acoustic performance, but with percussion and heavenly backing vox added on.

Animal Zoo (J. Ferguson) - Let's all throw off our shackles and inhibitions and get down and dirty like animals! Let's forget to pay the rent, shower only occasionally, and par-tay all the time! Let's quit the group and start an even smellier group! Excellent "chicken-clucking" guitar hook in this one.

Love Has Found a Way (R. California / J. Locke) - Hey! Woozy psychedelia all of a sudden! Locke is all over the synths in this one, and the drums are played backwardsAnd the vocal harmonies TOTALLY rule. This one gets more and more amazing, until it cuts abruptly into ---

Why Can't I Be Free (R. California) - Brief 1 minute ballad, kind of a conclusion to the prior track.. Pretty, but not too incredibly substantial.

Mr Skin (J. Ferguson) - This one's funky! Lotsa horns providing pithy "answers" to Jay's surly verses. Dedicated to Cass Cassidy, the bald drummer.

Side B

Space Child (J. Locke) - Total keyboard feature, an instrumental fading in and out of different dream-sequence-like sections. More cool Mini-Moog. If I recall right, this was one of the earliest albums to use the Mini-Moog.

When I Touch You (J. Ferguson) - As the prior song fades out, distorted voices slowly fade and get more and more frantic, until it climaxes and California comes in with the slow but powerful riff that anchors the song. This song has Jay's best vocal on the album too, and the extended outro has some excellent guitar soloing, a section reminiscent of Yes's outro to "Starship Trooper".

Street Worm (J. Ferguson) - A bouncy, elaborate arrangement that only needs a couple of verses and chori until they give the 2nd half of the song to Randy, who turns in some truly dazzling solos.The song, I guess, is about personal freedom and free sex and taking off all your clothes and all that dated hippie stuff.

Life Has Just Begun (R. California) - Emotional, sad ballad with lovely vocal effects, harmonies (again; I sometimes take it for granted, but these guys really nail their harmonies on this record).

Morning Will Come (R. California) - Hit single material! Was this a single? I think it was. Kind of a rhythm and blues feel to this one, with horn punctuations again, and a truly joyous performance from Randy.

Soldier (R. California) - But the good mood was not to last. A sullen, almost dejected closer, probably about that disappointing Iggy Pop album mentioned in the title. Or maybe Randy was just mad that album wasn't going to be released for another few years.

IN TOTAL, I feel this album is an excellent addition to any prog rock collection, and it really deserves classic status for "classic rock" in general. It was a commercial disappointment upon release, probably contributing to the band's subsequent breakup. But I think it's kind of the "Dark Side of the Moon" of an alternate universe... a futuristic album that could have been a game changer for intelligent rock music. It's not perfect, but it comes awfully close in spots. 4.5 stars.

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 Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.12 | 147 ratings

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Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
Spirit Proto-Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars West coast, man

I remember being disappointed with this album when I finally heard it. With the trippy cover and its reputation I was expecting something really mind-blowing in the spacey-psych tradition but what I heard was something far more conventional. Indeed Sardonicus is just another West coast California hippie-rock album blended with mild psych, jazz, and bits of funk and folk. The album fits well alongside the other California bands of the day, though for my money is less interesting than much Grateful Dead, Airplane, or even The Doors.

David Briggs, famous for his work with Neil Young, was brought in and you can hear his "refined roughness" all over the place?gritty music but a professional sheen. The album's themes are the usual counter-culture concerns of the day, the playing and singing more than competent. "Nature's Way" is a beautiful acoustic number, sad, longing. "Animal Zoo" is a cute dittie like Arlo Guthrie would play for the kids. "Love Has Found a Way" is a cool track with vibes and backward rhythms, along with some early Moog experimentation. Still, pretty tame stuff for 1970. I'm amused when people talk about this as a heavy Acid album when Piper and Strange Days were already three years old, and by 70 there was some seriously weird stuff going on, stuff that makes this album sound like backing music for The Brady Bunch by comparison. "Mr. Skin" is where they throw in some funky guitars and horns for yet another flavor. "When I Touch You" is nice and heavy. The album closes with "Soldier" which is a truly lovely song, almost a spiritual which connects emotionally like Procol Harum or a good Band song would. Very slow with some pipe organ in the background. Great ending.

Despite some very memorable moments the album does not excite me like an American Beauty or Strange Days, let alone getting into English stuff. That said, it's a good album worthy of three stars and it should please many rock fans provided you don't have the high expectation I had going in.

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 Feedback by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.39 | 22 ratings

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Feedback
Spirit Proto-Prog

Review by Jake T

5 stars The biggest mistake they made was to call this band Spirit. All the dedicated Spirit followers immediately rejected this wonderful album and have campaigned against it for nearly 40 years. The album has also been compared to the Jo Jo Gunne album, and even though their styles are similar, I find Feedback to be far superior to anything Jo Jo Gunne ever released. If you are wanting to hear classic Spirit, you won't find it in this album. What you will hear is an absolute classic rock album with superior musicianship. I love every song, especially the instrumental pieces Puesta Del Scam and Trancas Fog-Out. To quote a line from the song Darkness, "What is this place that we're living in?", great question. The only criticism I have is that the background vocals are a bit too gospel choir-like. But don't listen to me, and certainly don't listen to the Randy California fans, listen to the album.

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Thanks to chopper for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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