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Spirit - Spirit CD (album) cover

SPIRIT

Spirit

 

Proto-Prog

3.54 | 93 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars With this debut album, Spirit created a product of its time: an inventive psychedelic rock hovering between Syd Barrett-Floyd, early The Who, but also developed some highly original sounds of their own. Spirit was not just another garage rock band: they had two jazz players John Locke (sadly passed away this summer) and drummer Ed Cassidy (a journeyman much older than the rest of the members). This very drummer was the step father of teenage wonder Randy California which turned out to be a brilliant guitarist, being invited on many records and was a one-time pupil of Jimi Hendrix. The rest of the line-up comprises of bassist mark Andes (not to be confused with his brother Matt, both would have lengthy careers) and singer Jay Ferguson whose voices was one of the best of the era and responsible for a lot of song-writing on this album.

After the opening Fresh Garbage (their first hit and an ecological ode well before the Green Spirit was out to save the planet) and the Floyd-like Uncle Jack, the albums really gets going with the amazing Mechanical World with its off-beat rhythm and superb ambiances. Followed by the instrumental Taurus (where Zep's Page took his Stairway To Heaven intro from), one realizes that Spirit has a lot more than most LA groups of their generation. While Iwas never a fan of young occidentals recording themselves while toying around with Indian sitars (Girl In Your Eyes), the album continues its path into Straight Arrow with its crazy jazz (almost free jazz) ending. After another semi-jazzy track Topanga Windows, the album seems to rest a bit on its laurels, with a bunch of rather unexceptional songs (with the exception of a jazzy mid-song solo section into Gramophone Man) until the closing almost 11-min monster Elijah with its repeated bass-piano riff and the continuous soloing from the band and its free-jazz mid-section which is reminiscent at times of Crimson's Moonchild. This track was always a popular live item.

The remastered version comes with a few bonus tracks, three of which are non-album while a different version (slightly shorter but better, IMHO) of the closing Elijah rounding them up. While all three shorter bonus tracks are rather different than the album (two from California and one from Locke), the probably would've added a bit of spice to the middle of the album by breaking the monotony. Veruska is almost a hard rocker, free Spirit is an involved jazz-rock avant-la-lettre improvisation and If I Had A Woman is a rough uncut diamond.

While this debut album is not really a superb album, there are many excellent moments that make it too close to the fourth star, not to be awarded it. Most young progheads might just be a bit taken aback by the dated sound and the fact that the album has not aged that well. Great sleeve though!!

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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