Spirit seem to be best-known for their 'Dr Sardonicus' album, but all of their first four albums are superb. This debut sounds like the work of a more mature, yet inspired rock band and they certainly had an impressive pedigree. Drummer Ed Cassidy was teenage guitarist Randy California's (Wolfe) stepfather and an experienced jazz sideman. California, meanwhile, had played alongside Jimi Hendrix. His style was less about riffing and more about tone and substance; both man and boy were imaginative team players. Jay Ferguson provided most of the songwriting creativity and, together with the already experienced bassist Mark Andes, the looks. John Locke was the keyboard boffin whose jazzy instrumental, 'Elijah,' sprawls across more than ten minutes of this album.
'Spirit' is crammed with great ideas and benefits from an unusually dense production which lends it gravity. The most unusual items are the dramatic, staccato horn-backed 'Mechanical World,' the other-wordly 'Taurus,' renowned for giving Jimmy Page his intro to 'Stairway to Heaven' and the aforementioned 'Elijah' which may at first require patience.
Ferguson's often eerie vocal style dates the album, but is effective. Straight rock with well-crafted melody is the order of the day for most of the tracks, especially 'Uncle Jack,' while 'Water Woman' was considered good enough for a couple of obscure British bands to cover. The bonus tracks are pretty good too. 'Veruska' was later recorded for the double-set 'Spirit of '76.' This album ought to be regarded as one of the big-hitters of its era.