Z12 44004 Spirit
Produced by Lou Adler
Released on January 22, 1968
US CHART POSITION #31 (RE-CHARTED #191 in 1973)
Find it at GEMM
Z12 44004 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

T hirty years after the fact, this album still blows my mind. So much good music came out of California in the late ‘60s: The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead. Spirit belongs with them, intersecting the psychedelic/progressive corridor at so many points. Mapping the exact points of contact is conjecture; maybe “Taurus” illuminated the stairway to Heaven, and conversely maybe “Uncle Jack” was happy to borrow from The Who. What remains remarkable is how often Spirit hit upon a workable fusion of psychedelic and progressive sounds. Honestly, Buffalo Springfield were never this jazzy, The Doors were never this flexible. Describing the sound of Spirit is a little tricky. I keep wrestling with unnatural scenarios: Syd Barrett replacing Jim Morrison in The Doors, what if Neil Young sat in on the early Dead albums. None of it captures the essence of Spirit. Vocalist Jay Ferguson, who writes most of the material, is hardly intense, preferring to sing behind the veil as it were. Guitarist Randy California is another story, a trailblazing guitarist who even seems to anticipate some of Robert Fripp’s conquests before Crimson arrived. The rest of the band is capable of intelligent musical discourse at the drop of a hat; listen to “Gramophone Man” or “Elijah” as proof. In their discovery of new musical country, Spirit even beat The Beatles to a few places, like the liquid novelty of “Water Woman” (shades of “Octopus’ Garden”). If psychedelic rock doesn’t scare you, and you harbor the belief that Syd Barrett was a genius, then Spirit is calling your name. Among the artifacts trampled by the faithful in their pilgrimage to California, this is well worth a proper dusting off and a little, quality pedestal of its own.

Z12 44004 back cover
Z12 44004 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. FRESH-GARBAGE    (Jay Ferguson)
  2. UNCLE JACK    (Jay Ferguson)
  3. MECHANICAL WORLD    (Mark Andes/Jay Ferguson)
  4. TAURUS    (Randy California)
  5. GIRL IN YOUR EYE    (Jay Ferguson)
  6. STRAIGHT ARROW    (Jay Ferguson)
  7. TOPANGA WINDOWS    (Jay Ferguson)
  8. GRAMOPHONE MAN    (Jay Ferguson/John Locke/Randy California/Mark Andes/Cassidy)
  9. WATER WOMAN    (Jay Ferguson)
  10. THE GREAT CANYON FIRE IN GENERAL    (Jay Ferguson)
  11. ELIJAH    (John Locke)

    CD reissue bonus tracks
  12. VERUSKA
  13. FREE SPIRIT
  14. IF I HAD A WOMAN
  15. ELIJAH (ALTERNATE TAKE)

CREDITS

MARK ANDES -- bass & vocals
RANDY CALIFORNIA -- guitars
CASSIDY -- drums & percussion
JAY FERGUSON -- vocal & percussion
JOHN LOCKE -- keyboard
Marty Paich -- string & horn arrangements
Mike Leitz -- engineer
Armin Steiner -- engineer
Eirik Wangberg -- engineer
Corporate Head -- album design
Tom Wilkes -- art director
Guy Webster -- cover photo
Jay Thompson -- back cover photo

return to SPIRIT discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US January 22, 1968 Ode LPm/s Z12 44003/4 avail. in mono/stereo
AUS'L 1968 CBS LP SBP 233581  
US August 1973 Epic 2LP KEG 31457/8 repackaged w. CLEAR SPIRIT
UK April 1989 Edsel LP/CD ED/EDCD-311  
EUR September 30, 1996 Sony CDX 485175 digital remaster w. bonus tracks
US October 22, 1996 Sony CDX EK 64965 digital remaster w. bonus tracks

 

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