January 2008, and no review of this album! The trouble i had in getting a vinyl copy of this one. Even the cd was hard to track down, before realising that they were easy to order through Amazon.
Whilst it's probably the weakest of the early Spirit albums, "Clear" still features some moments of brilliance. Spirit were an inventive group, whose albums featured an interesting range of styles. ("Twelve Dreams of Dr Sardonicus" probably representing the perfect demonstration of the group's talents, and its creative peak.) "Clear" has moments of bluesy rock, eclectic pop, the moving "Give A Life, Take A Life" and one especially atmospheric instrumental ("Ice") which serve to make it a product of its time. If not all the tracks really work, there's quite enough interesting stuff to make it worthy of purchase.
The weakest of their first four albums, Spirit's 'Clear' is nevertheless worthy of investigation. It's a little disjointed, kicking off with four bluesy rockers before giving way to their more experimental side. The reason for this appears to be that some of the material was recorded for an aborted film.
'Dark Eyed Woman' is a memorable opener, a hard rocker featuring some crunching guitar. 'So Little Time To Fly' is a warm, gentle boogie, while 'Apple Orchard' and 'Groundhog' are slower items. 'Cold Wind' is the first ambitious track and has an eerie, moaning quality. 'Policeman's Ball' is a return to rock, complete with social comment. 'Ice,' the longest track, is one of John Locke's intriguing instrumentals. Thereafter, the tracks are a mixture of all these approaches.
The minor hit, '1984,' is a welcome addition, along with three other extras, concluding with an advert for the album. 'Clear' was made when things were starting to fall apart, but is a very good album.
Following on from their quirky, jazz influenced debut ("Spirit") and their more mainstream, rock orientated second album ("The Family That Plays Together"), Spirit's third album is a more extreme representation of the band's unique musical mix.
Caught between wanting to be an innovative jazz-rock band and a guitar-hero rock band, "Clear" suffers from noticeable schizophrenia as both sides of the group's character vie for space. This tension leads to some odd results (for example "New Dope In Town" whose over heavy rock verses surround a beautifully lilting jazz piano break that bears little relation to the rest of the song) and some real gems - "Ice" and "Clear" are marvellous, low key, jazz based instrumentals, "Dark-Eyed Woman" is truly excellent straight down the line hard rock and "Give A Life, Take A Life" is a superb slice of vocal harmony straight out of the Beach Boys "Surfs Up" drawer. In between the album moves, not always comfortably, between these diverse, sometimes conflicting styles.
Somehow it works... a record that frustrates and rewards in equal proportion, which sums up Spirit's music more effectively than the rest and which contains some of their very best tracks.