Saturday, August 4, 2018

Spirit - It Shall Be-Ode And Epic Recordings (1968-72 us, superb psychedelic fusion rock, 2018 five disc box set remaster with extra tracks)



After RC’s recent Roots Of US Progressive Rock feature, by far the most positive feedback came for Spirit, the fabled LA band who first appeared 50 years ago spearheading Columbia’s Rock Machine campaign. This definitive package built around the first five albums, confirms that, when it came to mashing diverse musical styles in a psych blender with supernatural chops, Spirit were light years ahead of 1968’s illustrious pack, even eclipsing more vaunted contemporaries like The Band for alchemical trail-blazing.

“The trouble was, our reputation as an idiosyncratic psychedelic jazz group meant we were influential rather than successful,” says bassist Mark Andes in the sleevenotes. Spirit sounded like seasoned veterans, but only 4year-old drummer Ed Cassidy, who’d played with jazz greats earlier in life, boasted that distinction. When they came together in 1967 as a rebooted version of the earlier Red Roosters, they also included Cassidy’s 16-year-old guitarist step-son Randy Wolfe, renamed Randy California by Hendrix when both were playing Greenwich Village’s Café Wha? the previous year. (Then-schoolboy Randy was famously prevented by his parents from accompanying Jimi to the UK). Spectrally soulful vocalist Jay Ferguson and mercurial keyboardist John Locke completed the band, who named themselves from shortening the title of Khalil Gibran’s story Spirits Rebellious, signed to Lou Adler’s Columbia-distributed Ode and recorded their self-titled first album.

With tracks like the Latin-flavoured Fresh Garbage and grippingly dramatic Mechanical World hot-wired by California’s serpentine guitar, Cassidy’s feather light propulsion and Locke’s mercurial keyboards, Spirit still sounds like a band out of time; maturely progressive and prone to leaping into jazzy solo stretches that get their own field on Elijah (and the gentle Taurus makes you wonder how innate magpies Led Zep ever won the 2016 court case accusing them of heisting the track for Stairway To Heaven).

December 1968’s The Family That Plays Together toughened the sound while retaining the idiosyncratic edge on tracks like Aren’t You Glad?, giving Spirit their only hit single with I’ve Got A Line On You before they were commissioned to write the soundtrack for French director Jacques Demy’s movie Model Shop. For anyone not familiar with its tracks on 1991’s Time Circle collection or Sundazed’s 2005 full release, the soundtrack’s resonant position between Spirit’s second and third albums will be a minor revelation as they push their envelope into cosmic jazz on The Moving Van and Mellow Fellow. Second album outtakes such as Fog in all its baroque, shimmering glory joined pieces soon expanded (and re-titled) on October 1969’s Clear (including its pastoral title track and glacial Ice), ultimately making Model Shop a phantasmagorical bridge between the two.

With Clear also nodding at blues-rock and 1984 released as a foreboding 45, Spirit forged their masterpiece with 1970’s The Twelve Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus, a psychedelic social comment concept work named after William Castle’s 1961 horror film. Produced by David Bryant (at Neil Young’s suggestion) and elevated by the band’s stellar telepathic progression, Spirit up the passion and precision on the cutting Animal Zoo, heartbreaking Soldier and vertiginous TFTPT outtake Space Child, along with showcasing Randy’s blossoming song-writing on Nature’s Way and Why Can’t I Be Free?

Sadly, Spirit’s original line-up soon dispersed, leaving Cassidy and Locke joined by brothers Al and John Staehely to record 1972’s Feedback, which saw jazz impulses replaced by Southern rock flavours. By 1973, California was back leading Spirit with his step-dad until drowning near Hawaii in 1997 (Cassidy died in 2012, aged 89).

It Shall Be will remain the definitive monument for this vital band, bolstered by outtakes, singles, alternative Time Circle mixes and first album’s original mono mix making its CD debut; much of it still sounding as evocatively beautiful and astonishingly ground-breaking as it did half a century ago. We should be glad indeed for such marvels.
by Kris Needs
Tracks
Disc 1
Spirit 1968
1. Fresh Garbage (Jay Ferguson) - 3:11
2. Uncle Jack (Jay Ferguson) - 2:43
3. Mechanical World (Jay Ferguson, Mark Andes) - 5:15
4. Taurus (Randy California) - 2:37
5. Girl In Your Eye (Jay Ferguson) - 3:15
6. Straight Arrow (Jay Ferguson) - 2:50
7. Topanga Windows (Jay Ferguson) - 3:36
8. Gramophone Man (Ed Cassidy, Jay Ferguson) - 3:49
9. Water Woman (Jay Ferguson) - 2:11
10.The Great Canyon Fire In General (Jay Ferguson) - 2:46
11.Elijah (John Locke) - 10:42
The Family That Plays Together 1968
12.I Got A Line On You (Randy California) - 2:35
13.It Shall Be (John Locke, Randy California) - 3:02
14.Poor Richard (Jay Ferguson) - 2:28
15.Silky Sam (Jay Ferguson) - 3:48
16.Drunkard (Jay Ferguson) - 2:26
17.Darlin' If (Randy California) - 3:38
18.All The Same (Ed Cassidy, Randy California) - 4:46
19.Jewish (Randy California) - 2:46
20.Dream Within A Dream (Jay Ferguson) - 3:00
21.She Smiled (Jay Ferguson) - 2:22
22.Aren't You Glad (Jay Ferguson) - 5:34
Disc 2
The Model Shop 1968-69
1. The Moving Van (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 1:56
2. Mellow Fellow (Ed Cassidy, John Locke) - 2:50
3. Now Or Anywhere (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 4:39
4. Fog (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 2:24
5. Green Gorilla (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 2:13
6. Model Shop I (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 2:02
7. Model Shop II (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 4:07
8. The Rehearsal Theme (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 1:11
9. Song For Lola (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 5:47
10.Eventide (John Locke) - 3:56
11.Coral (John Locke) - 4:22
12.Aren't You Glad (Demo) (Jay Ferguson) - 5:26
Clear 1969
13.Dark Eyed Woman (Randy California, Jay Ferguson) - 3:06
14.Apple Orchard (Mark Andes, Randy California, Ed Cassidy) - 4:03
15.So Little Time To Fly (Randy California, John Locke) - 2:47
16.Ground Hog (Jay Ferguson) - 3:02
17.Cold Wind (Jay Ferguson) - 3:23
18.Policeman's Ball (Jay Ferguson) - 2:21
19.Ice (John Locke) - 5:47
20.Give A Life, Take A Life (Lou Adler, Randy California) - 3:20
21.I'm Truckin' (Jay Ferguson) - 2:24
22.Clear (Randy California, Jay Ferguson) - 4:07
23.Caught (John Locke) - 3:11
24.New Dope In Town (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 4:23
Disc 3
Twelve Dreams Of Doctor Sardonicus 1970
01. Prelude – Nothing To Hide (Randy California) - 3:43
02. Nature's Way (Randy California) - 2:40
03. Animal Zoo (Jay Ferguson) - 3:10
04. Love Has Found A Way (Randy California, Jay Ferguson) - 2:42
05. Why Can't I Be Free? (Randy California) - 1:05
06. Mr. Skin (Jay Ferguson) - 4:00
07. Space Child (John Locke) - 3:25
08. When I Touch You (Jay Ferguson) - 5:37
09. Street Worm (Jay Ferguson) - 3:42
10.Life Has Just Begun (Randy California) - 3:29
11.Morning Will Come (Randy California) - 2:50
12.Soldier (Randy California) - 2:43
Recorded In 1970 During Sessions For "Twelve Dreams Of Doctor Sardonicus"
13.Rougher Road (Randy California) - 3:16
Feedback 1972
14.Chelsea Girls (Al Staehely) - 3:28
15.Cadillac Cowboys (Al Staehely) - 3:37
16.Puesta Del Scam (John Locke) - 2:02
17.Ripe And Ready (Al Staehely) - 3:50
18.Darkness (John Locke) - 4:46
19.Earth Shaker (Al Staehely) - 3:53
20.Mellow Morning (Al Staehely, Mark Andes) - 2:21
21.Right On Time (Al Staehely) - 2:46
22.Trancas Fog-Out (John Locke) - 2:37
23.Witch (Al Staehely) - 5:20
Disc 4
Spirit (Mono) 1968
1. Fresh Garbage (Jay Ferguson) - 3:12
2. Uncle Jack (Jay Ferguson) - 2:44
3. Mechanical World (Jay Ferguson, Mark Andes) - 5:13
4. Taurus (Randy California) - 2:35
5. Girl In Your Eye (Jay Ferguson) - 3:06
6. Straight Arrow (Jay Ferguson) - 2:46
7. Topanga Windows (Jay Ferguson) - 3:31
8. Gramophone Man (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 3:51
9. Water Woman (Jay Ferguson) - 2:09
10.The Great Canyon Fire In General (Jay Ferguson) - 2:47
11.Elijah (John Locke) - 10:39
Recorded In 1968 During Sessions For "Spirit"
12.Veruska (Randy California) - 2:50
13.Free Spirit (John Locke) - 4:26
14.If I Had A Woman (Randy California) - 3:11
15.Elijah (Alternate Take 2) (John Locke) - 9:41
Taken From The 1991 Compilation "Time Circle"
16.I Got A Line On You (Randy California) - 2:47
17.It Shall Be (Randy California, John Locke) - 3:28
18.Poor Richard (Jay Ferguson) - 2:29
19.Silky Sam (Jay Ferguson) - 4:12
Disc 5
Taken From The 1991 Compilation "Time Circle"
1. Scherozode (John Locke) - 2:12
2. All The Same (Marty Paich, Randy California, Ed Cassidy, Helmut Bredigkeit, Angela Poethig, Richard Gramer) - 4:40
3. A Dream Within A Dream (Marty Paich, Jay Ferguson) - 3:01
4. Aren't You Glad (Jay Ferguson) - 5:34
5. Eventide (John Locke) - 4:21
6. Model Shop Theme (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 2:57
7. Green Gorilla (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 2:18
8. Rehearsal Theme (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 1:12
Recorded In 1968 During Sessions For "The Family That Plays Together"
9. Fog (Randy California, John Locke) - 2:25
10.So Little To Say (Jay Ferguson) - 2:59
11.Mellow Fellow (John Locke) - 3:48
12.Now Or Anywhere (Jay Ferguson) - 4:21
13.Space Chile (John Locke) - 6:24
Recorded In 1969 During Sessions For "Clear"
14.Fuller Brush Man (Jay Ferguson) - 3:19
15.Coral (Ed Cassidy, John Locke) - 2:02
A And B-Sides Of Single (Released In 1970)
16.1984 (Randy California) - 3:37
17.Sweet Stella Baby (Jay Ferguson) - 2:56
A And B-Sides Of Single (Released In 1970)
18.Animal Zoo (Mono Single Version) (Randy California) - 3:03
19.Red Light Roll On (Randy California) - 5:42
Recorded And Mixed In 1970
20.Morning Will Come (Randy California) - 2:50

Spirit
*Randy California - Guitar, Vocals
*Ed Cassidy - Drums
*John Locke - Keyboards
*Mark Andes - Bass
*Jay Ferguson - Vocals, Percussion
*Al Staehely - Bass, Vocals (Disc 3, Tracks 14-23)
*Chris Staehely - Guitar, Backup Vocals (Disc 3, Tracks 14-23)

1971  Spirit - Feedback
Related Acts
1972-74  Jo Jo Gunne - Jo Jo Gunne / Bite Down Hard / Jumpin' the Gun / So... Where's the Show? (double disc 2011 issue) 
1976-78  Firefall - Firefall / Luna Sea / Elan (2016 double disc set)

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5 comments:

  1. At last Mario, Spirit! - thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Would you mind uploading them in mp3 too and my connection takes ages to download FLACs :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. this is so great, I bought the box, nice sounding remasters imho

    ReplyDelete