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Customer Review

on 11 March 2008
The 40th anniversary of its release seems an appropriate time to review this classic album, which I would place on a par with Love's FOREVER CHANGES. Consider the similarities:
Both albums contain 11 tracks, with a running time of around 42 minutes.
The release dates (Nov.'67 & Feb.'68) are just 3 months apart.
Arthur Lee, leader of Love, wrote 9 of 11 cuts on FC, Jay Ferguson, leader of Spirit wrote or co-wrote 9 of the 11 tracks here.
Both albums were critically-acclaimed but commercial flops.
Both are full of drug-induced eeriness with tremendous 'grow-on-you' appeal - they have DEPTH.
Both issued on small, independent labels (Elektra & Ode) owned by charismatic individuals (Jac Holzman & Lou Adler respectively).
Both are true concept albums, as opposed to the contrived variety.
Neither album yielded a hit single.
Both sleeves feature 5 heads of group members moulded into one.
Both groups have Jimi Hendrix connection (Arthur Lee produced 'My Diary' by Rosalie Brooks in 1964 with Jimi on guitar, while Randy California played with Jimi, c.1966).
Both outfits have a bald connection! (Arthur lost his hair through an accident, while Ed Cassidy is Spirit's famous bald drummer).
Both groups lived together in unusual houses in LA area during this time.
Love were originally called the Grass Roots, but switched when they discovered another group with that name, who were on the Dunhill label, owned by....Lou Adler.
As for the music, both albums have anti-city tracks: (Daily Planet/Topanga windows), a song about death: (Red Telephone/Mechanical World), oblique references to Native Americans: (Live & Let Live/Straight Arrow), songs relating to specific girls: (Andmoreagain/Girl in your eye), plus an extended piece over 6 minutes: (You set the scene/Elijah).
The main differences are that SPIRIT is heavier & jazzier, the electric piano is featured prominently, and the material lends itself to improvisation quite naturally (in which it has more in common with Steely Dan's brilliant debut album, CAN'T BUY A THRILL).
In short, a psychedelic/jazz-rock classic that only improves with age, and quintessential listening for any fan of the era.
The 4 bonus tracks 12-15 are, to me, expendable.
(PS - A previous reviewer states that 'Water Woman' was covered by some obscure British psychedelic bands of the day. Well, 'Gramophone Man' was also covered - by UK group Woody Kern, on their debut 1969 album, 'Awful disclosures of Maria Monk.' I won't say their version was awful - just not as good as Spirit's).
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