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Spirit - The Mercury Years CD (album) cover





3.13 | 5 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars No, not Freddie!

The "Mercury years" of Spirit were not their early, formative years which were spent with CBS/Columbia. By 1975, the band had effectively ceased to exist. Randy California and Ed Cassidy however decided to give it another go. They resurrected the band name and self funded their comeback album "Spirit of '76", intended as part of the American bicentennial celebrations. Mercury Records picked up the band and further albums were recorded and released over the next couple of years.

This compilation is a fine document of those later years. It contains "Spirit of '76" virtually in its entirety, with only the brief "Jack Bond part 2" and "Star spangled banner" missing. The following "Son of spirit" is also pretty much complete, with only " Don't Go Away" being omitted. "Farther along", is included in full bar the brief closing reworking of "Nature's Way" while "Future games" from 1977 is radically curtailed to just four (of 22) tracks.

"Spirit of '76" is a pleasantly understated affair, the tracks from the original double LP set occupying an entire CD disc here. The sequence of the songs has been altered by Randy himself, presumably to offer what he considered a more satisfying order without the need to take the balancing of LP side lengths into account.

"Son of spirit" followed very rapidly after "Spirit of '76", both being released in the same year. A number of the tracks on the album are over-spills from its predecessor, while a couple of others date from the early 1970's. The album continues in the vein of "Son of spirit", adopting an even more pop orientated style at times. There are a couple high spots though, including the delightful "Maybe you'll find" and the atmospheric "Holy man".

"Farther along" saw the original line up all but reunited, with only Jay Ferguson missing. Even he would play at some of the band's gigs on the subsequent tour. The album offers a fine diversity of styles from the Simon and Garfunkel like "Don't lock up your door" to the heavy, distorted lead guitar of "Colossus". Given the miserly 32 minute running time of the album, this compilation represents a better value way of obtaining it.

The fourth reunion album "Future games" Is the main loser here, with just four of its 22 tracks being used here. The more experimental nature of the music meant that it was somewhat different to the three albums which proceeded it, with tracks such as "Detroit city" being noticeably different, but not necessarily better.

There is one rarity on the album, a song called "Green back dollar". The song is not contemporary with the other recordings here, being from the 1980's. The lyrics reflect the changing times, asking the children of the 60's to remember their former ideals and to implement them in an 80's context. It is not a particularly memorable affair, being fairly standard hand-clapping pop rock, but it is an interesting addition.

In all, an excellent way to obtain Spirit's first three albums for Mercury Records , pretty much in their entirety. These albums may not represent the band's finest, or indeed most prog years, but there are still many fine songs to be heard and enjoyed.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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