What does it sound like?:
Spirit were “Out of Topanga Canyon from the Time Coast” according to an early press release.
Visually they were quite different to the norm as the drummer, Ed Cassidy, was shaven headed, always dressed in black and performed behind the biggest drum kit most people had ever seen.
He was stepfather to the group’s guitarist – Randy California (who had played with Hendrix in the latter’s band Jimmy James and the Blue Flames in 1966). Other members of the band were Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes who later formed Jo Jo Gunne and John Locke
Cassidy had played in many jazz bands in the 50s and was a highly respected musician – not surprising, therefore, that the band’s first album was more than tinted with jazz. The elaborate string arrangements and overtly psychedelic songs were, one could say “of their time”! By the time of the second album “The Family that plays together” (would they have got away with that in these tremulous times ?) the band were a lot more together and the album actually included a US top 30 hit in “I got a line on you”.
Between “The Family that plays together” and their next album “Clear” Spirit recorded the soundtrack to Jacques Demy’s film “Model Shop” and all of the soundtrack is included in this box set – exclusively instrumental (except for “Green Gorilla” and “Now or Anywhere” the soundtrack is more than listenable in it’s own right and pieces from the soundtrack later surfaced on “Clear” under other names.
“The Twelve Dreams of Dr Sardonicus” followed – now widely regarded as the band’s masterpiece but was not, at the time, a critical success but, after the group undertook a promo tour for the album Spirit split – Ferguson and Andes going off to form Jo Jo Gunne and California taking a sabbatical from the touring band.
The Staehely brothers Al (bass) and Chris (guitar) joined the band and this line up recorded “Feedback” but . . . the magic had gone and they now just sounded pretty much like a lot of other mid 60s American band (to these ears anyway).
As well as the original albums this compilation contains the mono mix of the first album which is here on CD for the first time, the complete soundtrack to “The Model Shop”, the 1968 stereo mix of “The Family that plays together”, out takes, singles and alternate mixes from the 1991 “Time Circle” compilation.
From a personal point of view I’d say that this album is really for completists only – the aforementioned “Time Circle” is a good compilation for those who want to explore the band’s output and all of the original albums have already been made available in the Epic “Original Album Classics” series (and at a lower price too).
What does it all *mean*?
Hey man its the 60s ya know peace love and back catalogue
Goes well with…
An enquiring mind
Might suit people who like…
Early Steve Miller Band