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Spirit - Farther Along CD (album) cover

FARTHER ALONG

Spirit

 

Proto-Prog

2.69 | 17 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars This is kind of a mixed-bag from Spirit that came out at kind of a weird time in America. Progressive music wasn’t quite dead, but disco didn’t completely dominate the airwaves (yet). There was a lot of this kind of hybrid music, most of it forgettable, which blended decent guitar riffs, catchy rhythms, and a little bit of folk all over the place – Jackson Browne, America, Beach Boys, stuff like that. That’s what this album sounds like. It’s a lot mellower than the band’s early records, probably influenced a bit by guitarist Randy California’s love affair with Hawaiian beaches and the occasional spliff.

Most of the band is back after the ‘Feedback’ debacle, except that Matt Andes has replaced Jay Ferguson on bass, and some guy named Michael Temple adds a mandolin that sort of reinforces the folk thing – kind of like Pete Seeger with electric backing. It works for the most part. There’s also lots of soft horn arrangements including a saxophone, and these blend pretty well with the jazz-heavy pedigrees of drummer Ed Cassidy and keyboardist John Locke.

The title track opens the album and pretty much sets the tone. The music is heavy on piano and mandolin, a little bit of horns, and some ultra laid-back vocals with almost imperceptible guitar from California, the guy who hit the ground running as a young teenager but seemed to run out of steam by the mid-seventies.

“Atomic Boogie” promises more energy but doesn’t really deliver. The rhythm is almost disco, but the mandolin and sanguine vocals keep it from picking up much steam. “World Eat World Dog” is almost a jazz sampler, kind of reminds me of a Sadé song but with harmonizing male vocals and string synths. This could have easily appeared on a Toto or Ambrosia album around the same time and no one would have noticed a difference.

“Stoney Night” is another jazzy number complete with solo saxophone and tinny piano, plus a mellow horn section and Motown-sounding vocals. If California could have lowered his voice a few octaves this would have passed for a Barry White tune.

By the time “Pineapple” rolls around the mood is pretty much set for the album, and this one doesn’t stray far except that it adds a little island-tinged percussion and skips the vocals altogether.

“Colossus” is a bit brooding and spacey, with some decent but still laid-back guitar work by California, and “Mega Star” has a similar tempo but adds some strident guitar and awkward lyrics for a lukewarm “Juke Box Hero” theme.

The most mellow song on the album is “Don’t Lock Up Your Door”, which sounds all the world like an America folksy ditty ala “Down to the Water” or maybe “Don’t Cross the River”. A nice tune, but is this really the same group that gave us “I Got a Line on You” and the whole Dr Sardonicus album?

“Diamond Spirit” is so spacey and detached that it almost gets missed unless you’re really listening for it, and “Nature’s Way” isn’t much different except that it has some really nice string synths.

This is a nice album if you’re into the mid-seventies soft rock sound, but it’s not prog and it’s not really Spirit. The band members were all consummate musicians by this time, but the magic was definitely gone. The songs are pleasant enough that this rates a bit higher than crap, but it’s not what I would really call good, so we’ll pin two stars on it and move along.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |

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