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Spirit - Clear CD (album) cover

CLEAR

Spirit

 

Proto-Prog

3.84 | 65 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

After the deceiving second album, the group rebounded with a bright third album (the aptly named Clear), which is a much more even affair than its predecessors. With the same line-up, the groups is also working more as a unit in the conception of the songwriting: Jay Ferguson still writes some (wonderful) tracks on his own (three in this case), but the majority are either collaborations or penned by other members (three for John Locke, and I believe this is the success of this album.

Starting with the energetic Dark-Eyed Woman with its great bass line, and the great collectively-penned Apple Orchard, one understands that while Spirit is still a 60's band, they've got everything to become a 70's classic (in terms of songwriting) but still have a much advanced philosophy as well: after the denouncing Fresh Garbage and the future Nature's Way, John Locke wrote this great track So Little Time To Fly about man distancing himself from nature. Ferguson answers with the brilliant and exuberant Groundhog, the calm Cold Wind and the offbeat Policeman's Ball, denouncing the Police's excesses in 68 events.

John Locke is not to be done without as the superbly brilliant instrumental Ice and the dischordant Caught improv, both bringing us his dreamy jazzy landscapes and his importance in the group's overall eclectism, while he shows that he can write pop tunes too with the perky I'm Truckin'. The album ends in great fashion with the smooth title track (reminding us of Ice and Taurus on the debut album, but also used in a different version on Model Shop's soundtrack) and the excellent New Dope In Town (wonder what they talking about here? ;-) with again plenty of space for instrumental interplay, and might just be the best track of the album.

Again, the remastered version comes with plenty of superb bonus tracks, which are indispensable for Spirit fans. Their huge hit 1984 (which sounds at least five years ahead of its time in terms of musical production and songwriting >> almost Roxy Music) is the first one in line, with the perky rocker Sweet Stella Baby following. Fuller Brush Man is yet another great facet of Ferguson's pop moods while Coral is a progressive jazz improv written by the two jazzheads Locke and drummer Ed Cassidy, which gives another great dimension and perfect added value to the original album. And then comes a little bonus of Holywood-like film-trailer presenting the album. Indeed, Clear is their best album (outside of 12 Dreams, naturally) and a real fine psych/proto prog album. One of the best in the genre really.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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