on 12 August 2014
5 albums of perfectly intelligent rock music.
fluent, pageant, psychedelic pop.
listen carefully and you will hear inspirations
that are still being reworked into today's inferior sounds.
play Taurus to hear one of the greatest injustices
in the history of composition.
on 31 January 2014
Spirit were never much in the US and the UK barely registered at all. They don't sound like any other rock band before or since although their earliest stuff when Jay Ferguson wrote a lot of the material is quite poppy in a 60s way, almost Beatley. that might sound a bit dated for younger ears.
The best here is The family that plays and Dr Sardonicus both topnotch classics. And the rock stuff doesn't really date as it doesn't sound like anyone else although its easy to see the jazz, Hendrix type infuences. What sets Spirit apart, no matter who is writing the material, is outstanding melodies. They just wrote great tunes pretty much for every song. When you hear great melodies it sounds easy but its something few can do. the ability to write melodies enables them to succeed with song structures which are often complex and experimental. The production and arrangement is always good too.
The five star is not because everything here is of the highest quality and what you like best is a matter of taste. But few bands from any era can match Spirit at their best
on 6 February 2013
Spirit have always been one of my favourite American bands, and here the first five original albums (yes, including that rather dodgy one Cassidy & Locke made with The Staehely Brothers) are presented as beautifully mastered CDs in cute little cardboard copies of the original sleeves. Far more satisfying than the recycled compilations that throw the tracks together in any old order, and extremely nicely priced too. If only they'd put the original Potatoland in as number five!
on 26 April 2013
As a long time Spirit fan I had to get this set because although not stated on the sleeve some of the discs include the bonus tracks that featured on previous releases. It also includes the rare Feedback album which isn't as bad as some Spirit purists would have you believe. Quite why Spirit weren't a great commercial success will always be a mystery to me, some of the music in this set is truly wonderful. And although they didn't sell particularly well these early albums were clearly influential. Just listen to Taurus on Clear and you'll understand what I mean.
In `65 there was really only one LA pop/rock band and that was the Byrds. By `67/'68 the Byrds were still there but they were grandaddies to the newer generation of LA bands. The big three then were the Doors, Love and Spirit in descending order of popularity. Perhaps the main reason for Spirit never really achieving anything like the popularity of the other two bands despite being, arguably, the cleverest and perhaps most technically proficient of all three is that they were very difficult to categorise. The Doors started as a blues band and even on their trippier or Brecht inclined work you knew there were hints of blues underneath. Love started more as a garage punk band but somehow were able to pick up some of the Byrds LA audience which helped them when Lee and Maclean got turned on by Johnny Mathis and who knows what else, and produced distinctly more exotic sounds. Spirit were well, what? There were very clear chunks of jazz in their output with both drummer Ed Cassidy and pianist John Locke having spent time in jazzy outfits. But there wasn't enough for anyone to easily drop them into a jazz rock bracket. They weren't blues, country, folk, garage, or even psychedelic (insofar as it applied to the SF bands anyway). They could, when they wanted, rock out with hard guitar lead but that didn't occur very frequently. They could do delicate acoustic stuff but it wasn't really folky or even singer-songwriter. They could do harmonies like the best LA bands but weren't a Beach Boys pastiche, nor were they a budding Crosby, Nash & Stills.
What they were able to do was create interesting, dense songs often with multiple ideas involved. It wasn't unusual to get time changes and breaks that might bear little relation to songs that contained them. But were they prog rock? No, they did stick with the songs, not usually going off into umpteen different "movements" and they didn't do really long numbers - the ten minutes plus of the near straight jazz of "Elijah" on the first album was the exception (and an example of lack of integration of their ideas on that album).
The first albums here are the first four of their albums in sequence pre-disintegration which, in part, was caused by lack of chart success. In reality these are the only Spirit albums you need. There was a later Spirit assembled and led by Randy California, sometimes with others like Cassidy and Locke on board but the sound they made was distinctly unlike the original Spirit; it was more a vehicle for California.
Album 1 simply titled Spirit was the one with five different portions of heads all forming one on the sleeve. If this was meant to convey the multiplicity of input from all five members then I'd say it succeeded superbly. The album also seemed to point in multiple directions. There was the aforementioned long jazz instrumental authored by John Locke - he was one of the pair with just this background. All the other numbers bar one were authored by Jay Ferguson, the vocalist and seemingly main ideas man. But those ideas covered a wide range, angular melodies, unusual subject matter like "Fresh Garbage", nice acoustic touches, etc. Randy California contributed a whole range of effects from his guitar, from rock-out fuzz to smooth and jazz inclined.
Album 2, "The Family that plays together" again emphasised the togetherness of the band. In some respects this was more accessible than "Spirit". California contributed five songs this time, some with co-writers. The album's opener, "I got a line on you", one of the California songs was a straight ahead hard rocker with good harmonies and stinging guitar from Randy - a great example of its kind. The final track, "Aren't you glad" was also close to a conventional rock number - one suspects deliberate programming here. In between the songs were varied but overall it was more integrated than its predecessor and chopping and changing of genres was less apparent.
I recall that when I originally purchased album 3, "Clear" it did take me some time to get into it. The near easy listening jazzy instrumentals put me off a bit a first but I grew to love them. "Dark Eyed Woman", the opener, was as good as "I got a line on you". "Give a life, Take a Life" was a great song again with superb harmonies almost out of Brian Wilson's top drawer. Overall it worked. It just took longer to grow on me.
In contrast, "Dr Sardonicus" hits you immediately. Whilst on one level it's flashier than anything on the previous albums, at the same time it's deeper. It's more conventional but also more unusual, contradictorily. Maybe this was the guys' "Sergeant Pepper". It's certainly a crying shame that this album didn't achieve anything remotely like the sales it deserved - it's genuinely up there with all those classic late 60's, early 70's, albums .
on 5 April 2016
I've had vinyl copies of The Best Of Spirit, 12 Dreams, Kapt Kopter, Rapture In The Chambers and Spirit Of 76 in my collection for years. So why oh why has it taken me until now to get these early Spirit albums? This is a great value box set, with solid cover unlike the Original Album Series Box Sets. You can't go wrong here. These sets are a fantastic way to replace your battered vinyl or in my case purchase classic albums I missed first time round at a bargain price.
on 1 May 2011
I got this collection along with a few others and sure am glad I did! It looked like a decent idea, putting the first few releases of bands out in little box sets and when I did get them It sank in about just how good an idea this is! Brilliant marketing move here...back in the early 70's I was aware of Spirit but didn't really latch on to them until Dr Sardonicus came out...for me it was a fruitful era that I'm still finding more bands to like from to this day.Who needs all the Blah crap out there now when there were so many great bands back then?!To me Dr Sardonicus defines this point in time musically ... so many bands were so into finding thier own way of doing things and Spirit was just what I was looking for and can still relate to after all these years...and I don't get someone actually thinking Feedback is not worthy of respect...the Staehely brothers were amazing musicians in thier own right and Feedback works big time for me! Mark Andes...now there is a player who has certainly earned a respectable reputation! That man has been around! Randy has always been a favorite player songwriter and singer and John Locke...wow! I got to see Locke when he was in Nazareth and that line up was one of the best live shows I have ever seen! Absolutely wild! The packaging on these Original Album Classic releases is sparse for sure but I have most of this stuff on Vinyl anyway and besides the size of the compact disc makes it difficult to arrange a lot of detail anyway....but it can and has been done...the Salvo remasters of the Nazareth catalog is a case in point...nice job done there on the early stuff anyway with TONS of bonus tracks just waiting to be gobbled up!
I missed this when it first came out this year, but thank heavens I have a copy. The first 4 Spirit albums were all classic West Coast combining the heavy (at times) guitar of Randy California with laid back jazzy rhythms as well, and in my opinion is one of the greatest series of four consecutive albums released.
The real plus here is that you have the versions with the bonus tracks, 17 in total on the first four albums. Also included is "Feedback", a far less worthy album, but if you treat that one as a bonus as well, it can't be bad.
This review awards the 5 stars for the quadrilogy of albums without the fifth - they are in 100% cardboard replica sleeves with a cardboard slipcase, so for storage it's not much thicker than a single CD with none of that horrible plastic.
Buy your copy now before they go up or disappear - a must have bargain!
Excellent value and 5 Cds worth for the price of 1 mean you really can't go wrong with these reissues.
They are not the original albums but are the remastered versions with extra tracks so that makes them even beter value.
If you already have one or two of the old versions on CD thiese extra tracks plus the fact that its 5 cDs may just tip the balance and make you buy it>
(This is Not so much a review more a track listing.)
I first heard Spirit on the CBS Rock Sampler `The CBS Machine Turns You On' with their stand out track Fresh Garbage.
I suspect that's where most of us teenaged, strapped for cash Progressive fans first heard them.
There is no clear track listing so I thought this would help people choose.
The LPs/albums are Spirit / The Family That Plays Together / Clear / Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus / Feedback
Thought the track listings would help some people.
DISC 1: SPIRIT:
2. Uncle Jack
3. Mechanical World
5. Girl In Your Eye
6. Straight Arrow
7. Topanga Windows
8. Gramophone Man
9. Water Woman
10. Great Canyon Fire In General, The
13. Free Spirit
14. If I Had A Woman
15. Elijah [Alternate Take #2] - (take, alternate take)
DISC 2: THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER:
1. I Got A Line On You
2. It Shall Be
3. Poor Richard
4. Silky Sam
5. Drunkard, The
6. Darlin' If
7. All The Same
9. Dream Within A Dream
10. She Smiles
11. Aren't You Glad
13. So Little To Say
14. Mellow Fellow
15. Now Or Anywhere
16. Space Chile
DISC 3: CLEAR:
1. Dark Eyed Woman
2. Apple Orchard
3. So Little Time To Fly
4. Ground Hog
5. Cold Wind
6. Policeman's Ball
8. Give A Life, Take A Life
9. I'm Truckin'
12. New Dope In Town
14. Sweet Stella Baby
15. Fuller Brush Man
DISC 4: TWELVE DREAMS OF DR. SARDONICUS:
1. Prelude: Nothin' To Hide
2. Nature's Way
3. Animal Zoo
4. Love Has Found A Way
5. Why Can't I Be Free
6. Mr. Skin
7. Space Child
8. When I Touch You
9. Street Worm
10. Life Has Just Begun
11. Morning Will Come
13. Rougher Road
14. Animal Zoo [Mono Single Version] - (mono)
15. Morning Will Come [Alternate Mono Mix] - (remix, mono)
16. Red Light Roll On
DISC 5: FEEDBACK:
1. Chelsea Girls
2. Cadillac Cowboys
3. Puesta Del Scam
4. Ripe And Ready
6. Earth Shaker
7. Mellow Morning
8. Right On Time
9. Trancas Fog-Out
on 13 June 2013
This music is so good, how come I missed it all those years ago? If all you have heard is Fresh Garbage (on all those great CBS samplers - remember?) and the hit I Got A Line On You, you should buy this set. Everything that is great about late 60s and early 70s music is here. Can't recommend this item highly enough.