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Spirit - The Family That Plays Together CD (album) cover





3.79 | 79 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Spirit's sophomore album is often cited as their second best in the group's original line-up, but I would not be the only one saying that is not so much the case. On the whole if singer Jay Ferguson is still the main writer, his share is definitely dwindling but nothing to be alarmed of. The album remains definitely psychedelic, as did all their first four albums. Spirit remains one of the better bands of the era and in the style.

As with the previous album, Spirit starts with a very strong and commercial track (which will become ultimately the second and biggest hit commercially speaking) the catchy California-penned I Got a Line On You. Hardly my fave track, it is followed by the excellent It Shall Be with a discreet and enchanting flute over a jazzy beat and horn section add to a very haunting series of verses bringing the album to a first peak. Poor Richard (the first one written by Ferguson), Drunkard (strings and a flute) and Silky Sam are short tracks presenting characters (much Like Barrett did in early Floyd) and the latter holds some interesting mid-section counter-times (insteazd of the usual solo) before reverting to its charming ditty feeling. Nothing really all that enthralling overall but all have their charms because of the permanent psych and jazz influences. Only Darlin' If is below par. California comes back with two brilliant tracks, the good All The Same and the funny Jewish, but again nothing that a demanding proghead will really be enthused by. Likewise, Dream and She Smiles are just average tracks that are neither excellent nor bad. The album closes on the astounding the Ferguson-penned Aren't You Glad (the only successful one from him on this album): easily the better track (great horns and wild solo) with It Shall Be, it cannot rise to meet the peaks of the debut album.

Bonus track-wise, there are a whopping five non-album tracks (three which came from a film-soundtrack from French filmmaker Jacques Demy's Model Shop), three of them from John Locke. Had these tracks been inserted into the album, they might have easily bettered it. The delightfully atmospheric Fog, the string-arranged So Little To Say, the virtuosish Mellow Fellow, the exciting Now Or Anywhere and the superb Space Child all bring something that was missing to the album: more instrumental interplay.

TFTPT is a slightly over-rated album that holds a few gems, but not enough to warrant a place in the major Oeuvre museum. Don't get me wrong; the album is still very worthy of discovery if you want to discover the roots of prog, of which Spirit played its role in. Not exactly blessed with a fascinating artwork either, the album does not manage to reach the fourth star classic rating without the bonus tracks.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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