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4.9 out of 5 stars
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 4 August 2005
Spirit were breaking up when they recorded this masterpiece. I have been listening to it since the 1970's and never get tired of it. If you like Hendrix style inventiveness, 60's pop, and the West Coast sound, you have a great surprise in store. Lots of hooks, sound effects, guitars turning corners at high speed. Charismatic axeman Randy California is no longer with us - he drowned while saving his son at sea. The group were into a religious path called Urantia if you want to know what made them tick. Lots of mysteries, enjoy the Doctor's prescription.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2002
This is Spirit's finest hour, and that means pretty fine. A rollercoaster ride through musical styles as well as mood, ranging from playful (Animal Zoo) to elegiac (Soldier). This is a masterpiece and belongs in the pantheon of great rock albums, but has gone unrecognized as such for over thirty years. If you don't know it, you ought to.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2004
Those buyers who find much to admire in the Beatles, Beach Boys, Beefheart, Zappa and other groups that have pushed the production envelope should immediately purchase this album. Full of songs of the highest quality, produced to a level that Spector, George Martin or Brian Wilson would have been proud of.
One of the great unsung classics waiting for you to discover. Be it the simple acoustic arrangement of guitar and timpani on "Natures Way" or the full on Soul of "Mr Skin" this album oozes class as genres such as rock, folk, soul and jazz are fused together to produce a sublime funky, rocking, masterpiece
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
The average number of stars will never change from 5. If you like Spirit then you love this album. I owned two vinyl copies, listen to my cd copy regularly, yet every time I play it I am surprised and delighted by each new track. It was put together to flow perfectly across two sides of vinyl, with a pause after "Mr Skin" (turn it over) building to a definite ending at "Soldier". Shame about the bonus tracks on the cd then . . .
The melodies are massive, its beautifully sung, and every other instrument is creative and inventive, fitting in with a band sound to enhance the songs. There is no pulp on this album, no "this is a nice groove so we'll sit in it", instead there is evidence everywhere of drummer Cassidy's jazz leanings pushing things where you didn't expect. I have a lot of great albums, but if I had to name my favorite then 12 dreams and American Beauty would just have to fight it out.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2008
Spirit were a great band and I particularly enjoyed Randy California's guitar playing. The "Twelve Dreams" is easily their best album, a magical concoction of songs penned mainly by Randy and Jay Ferguson, with a couple of contributions from keyboardist John Locke. A lot of their albums may have been drug-fuelled, as this one, but you don't have to be under the influence to enjoy the "Twelve Dreams" as the music and playing are inspirational. Even after nearly 40 years, it still sounds fresh and inventive.

It really is wonderful album, one where the whole is very much more than the sum of the parts - listen to some of the songs (or dreams?) out of context or out of sequence and you diminish the effect. The music combines gorgeous melodies with fantastic guitar playing (the guitarist, Randy California, played with Jimi Hendrix for a short time in the late 60s and was clearly influenced by him), innovative keyboard sounds and the occasional but extremely effective use of horns in the arrangements.

The twelve songs are all strong with at least six of them being absolutely brilliant. Randy California`s "Nature's Way", an early environmental protest song and one of the most peaceful moments on the album with its use of acoustic rather than electric guitar, is possibly the best known song on here. It's a haunting song with an effective lilting rhythm and a good hook. Ferguson's "Animal Zoo" and "Mr Skin" have tremendous riffs from Randy California's guitar and those wonderful brassy horns driving them along - the combination of Ferguson and California (together with Locke's inventiveness on the keys) is what made this band so special at this time and it was a sad day when Ferguson and Locke split, Spirit never recovering from the shock. To prove that last point, Locke's instrumental "Space Child" is one of the highlights of the album. Randy's ease for melodic writing was to provide another two of the highlights, "Life Has Just Begun" and "Morning Will Come", both oozing with class. With the other "dreams" being not far behind these in terms of quality, coupled with perfect arrangements and ingenious production, the whole album is fantastic. A must-have for every rock fan!!

All of the recent re-issues of the album on CD, including this one, come with the inevitable bonus tracks - and given what I've just said above it'll come as no surprise to you if my recommendation, when listening to the album, is to leave these out altogether as they will diminish your experience - you cannot improve on perfection!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2008
Mr von Clinkenhoffer's excellently informative review is right on the money. Suffice to add that this is surely one of the greatest "hippy-era" albums ever released. The early Spirit albums are all very worthwhile, but this is the one which best defines what they're all about. "Twelve Dreams" embraces a breathtaking range of styles, but remains a totally coherent whole. A masterpiece of an album which succeeds in being pop, rock, heavy, folky, jazzy and psychedelic. Totally and utterly indispensable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2009
This is a blend of melody and various musical styles, recorded by a band at its peak, then fashioned by guitar wizard Randy California and (Neil Young) producer David Briggs into a seamless masterpiece. It has a wonderful freshness and seems so sure in its direction. 'You've got the world at your fingertips' begins Randy as he preludes the ecologically inspired Nature's Way, and so, it seemed, did Spirit. Other reviewers have described the songs thoroughly, and of course the album is now an all-time classic...but why on earth did Spirit split up so soon afterwards?? Randy partly blamed a lukewarm review in Rolling Stone Magazine which damaged album sales. It might also have helped if manager Lou Adler hadn't turned down the chance to play the slot just before Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock (he thought the festival would be a distraction!..)...Led Zep, incidentally, had been their support band on a US tour during which Jimmy Page borrowed the Stairway to Heaven riff off Randy, who was simply pleased to have helped...A true creative spirit who died far too early, saving his son's life in the ocean off Hawaii.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 2 November 2004
It wasn't all Grateful Dead/Jefferson Airplane in late sixties California. There was also Spirit, a band fusing rock, jazz and folk with the psychedelic trends of the time. The line-up included Randy California (I hope that wasn't his real name!), a talented guitarist and protégé of Jimi Hendrix, and drummer Ed Cassidy, a middle-aged skinhead (or was he just bald - I'm not sure - either way it was an unusual look for the time) who had a jazz background. On this 1970 album they wove their disparate musical influences into one sublime tapestry. Like "Sgt Pepper" it conveys an impression of being conceived as a whole (a concept album in other words) when in fact it is an artfully sequenced collection of individual songs highlighting all aspects of their diverse character, inviting you to take the journey from the first note to the last.
They broke up shortly after "Sardonicus" was released, California pursuing a solo career, others forming Jo Jo Gunne. Spirit have reformed periodically since, but they have never quite recreated the magic of this neglected masterpiece.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 2 November 2004
It wasn't all Grateful Dead/Jefferson Airplane in late sixties California. There was also Spirit, a band fusing rock, jazz and folk with the psychedelic trends of the time. The line-up included Randy California (I hope that wasn't his real name!), a talented guitarist and protégé of Jimi Hendrix, and drummer Ed Cassidy, a middle-aged skinhead (or was he just bald - I'm not sure - either way it was an unusual look for the time) who had a jazz background. On this 1970 album they wove their disparate musical influences into one sublime tapestry. Like "Sgt Pepper" it conveys an impression of being conceived as a whole (a concept album in other words) when in fact it is an artfully sequenced collection of individual songs highlighting all aspects of their diverse character, inviting you to take the journey from the first note to the last.
They broke up shortly after "Sardonicus" was released, California pursuing a solo career, others forming Jo Jo Gunne. Spirit have reformed periodically since, but they have never quite recreated the magic of this neglected masterpiece.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 12 April 2011
This has always been one of the great albums and all these years later it shows no signs of aging at all. I am still amazed at the variety of musical styles and how they combine to make this such a classic. There is a subtlety about it all that I think has helped me to still marvel at the variety of tracks and the playing is just so good: Ed Cassidy is one of the great drummers and Randy's guitar is inspired. He can rock out but can also use blend his style to the overall magic, well integrated into the sound.

I am stil playing this record on a regular basis - and still being taken aback at how good it is. I quite agree that the extra tracks are really not necessary. This album stands as a majestic piece of work.
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