Spirit


Band members                          Related acts

  line up 1 (1967-71)

- Mark Andes -- bass, backing vocals

- Randy California (aka Randy Wolf) (RIP 1997) -- vocals, guitar,

  bass 

- Ed Cassidy (RIP 2012) -- drums, percussion

- Jay Ferguson (RIP) -- vocals, percussion, keyboards

- John Locke (RIP 2006) -- keyboards 

 

  line up 2 (1971)

- John Arliss -- bass (replaced Mark Andes)

- Randy California (aka Randy Wolf) (RIP 1997) -- vocals, guitar,

  bass 

- Ed Cassidy (RIP 2012) -- drums, percussion

- John Locke (RIP 2006) -- keyboards 

 

  line up 3 (1971-73)

- Ed Cassidy (RIP 2012) -- drums, percussion

- John Locke (RIP 2006) -- keyboards 

- Al Staehly -- vocals, bass (replaced John Arliss)

- John Christian Staehely -- guitar (replaced Randy California)

 

  line up 4 (1973)

- Stu Perry -- drums (replaced Ed Cassidy) 

- Al Staehely -- bass (replaced John Arliss)

- John Christian Staehely -- guitar (replaced Randy California)

 

  line up 5 (1976)

- Matt Andes -- guitar, vocals
- Ed Cassidyy (RIP 2012) -- percussion, drums

- Randy California (RIP 1997) -- guitar, bass, vocals

- Barry Keane -- bass (replaced Mark Andes)
- John Locke (RIP 2006) -- keyboards


  line up 4 (1977-78)

- Ed Cassidy (RIP 2012) -- percussion, drums

- Randy California (RIP 1997) -- guitar, bass, vocals

- Larry Knight -- bass, keyboards (replaced Barry Keane)

 

  line up 5 (1981)

- Mike Bunnell -- bass

- Ed Cassidy (RIP 2012) -- percussion, drums

- Randy California (RIP 1997) -- guitar, bass, vocals

- Joe Green -- strings

- Jeff Jarvis -- horns

- John Locke (RIP 2006) -- keyboards

- Kari Niles -- keyboards

- Chuck Snyder -- horns

- Mike Thornbrugh -- horns

- George Valuck --

 

  line up 6 (1984)

- Mark Andes -- bass, backing vocals

- Randy California (aka Randy Wolf) (RIP 1997) -- vocals, guitar,

  bass 

- Ed Cassidy (RIP 2012) -- drums, percussion

- Jay Ferguson (RIP 1997) -- vocals, percussion, keyboards

- John Locke (RIP 2006) -- keyboards

 

  backing musicians (1984)

- Matt Andes -- vocals, guitar

- Jeff "Sunk" Baxter -- guitar

- Neal Doughty -- keyboards

- Bruce Gary -- percussion, backing vocals

- Alan Gratzer - percussion, backing vocals

- Jerry Jumonville -- sax

- KeithKnudsen -- drums, percussion

- Bobby Lakind -- percussion

- Joe Lala -- percussion

- Howard Leese - guitar

- Gary Mynik -- guitar

- Curly Smith -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Bob Welch -- guitar

 

  line up 7 (1989)

- Mike Bunnell -- bass

- Ed Cassidy (RIP 2012) -- percussion, drums

- Randy California (RIP 1997) -- guitar, bass, vocals

- Scott -- 

 

 

 

Randy California (solo efforts)

- The Fankhauser-Cassidy Band (Ed Cassidy)

- Jay Ferguson (solo efforts)

- Firefall (Mark Andes)

- Heart (Mark Andes)

- Jo Jo Gunne (Mark Andes and Jay Ferguson)

- Kapt Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds (Randy California)

- Krackerjack (John Staehly)

- The Rising Sons (Ed Cassidy)

- Al Staehely (solo efforts)

- Al and John Staehely

- The Staehely Brothers

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Spirit

Company: Ode

Catalog: Z1244004

Year: 1968

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: name written in ink on back cover and inner label; minor edge wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4161

Price: $8.00

 

With so much talent rolling out of the mid-1960s Southern California music scene, Spirit tends to get overlooked.  That's a shame since these guys could compete with any of their better known competitors.  

The band's roots can actually be traced back to 1965 when teenaged guitarist Randy California and his stepfather Ed Cassidy decided to pull together a band.  Cassidy was already a well know jazz sessions player and had been a member of The Blue Flames (along with one Jimi Hendrix) and The Rising Sons (with Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal).  California and Cassidy's first collaboration began in 1965 as The Red Roosters, which also featured singer/keyboard player Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes.  With California and Cassidy deciding their musical futures lay in New York, The Red Roosters didn't last long, however within a matter of months the pair were back in L.A. where they started working with keyboard player John Locke.  Renewed their partnership with Andes and Ferguson, the quintet began working the local club scene as Spirits Rebellious (lifted from a book by Lebanese Poet, philosopher, and artist Kahlil Gibran), before shortening the name to Spirit. 

The group quickly began attracting local media attention, leading Lou Adler to sign them to his newly formed Ode label.  Produced by Adler, 1968's "Spirit" is unlike any other mid-1960s Los Angeles-based album you're likely to hear.  While Ferguson was responsible for the majority of the eleven selections (California and Locke each penned one track), each member's musical influences were brought to bare - California's Hendrix-styled guitar moves; Cassidy's jazz background, etc.  Exemplified by tracks such as "Fresh Garbage" and Locke's "Elijah", the album offered up a stew of those influences, including classical, folk-rock, jazz, pop, rock and even Indian sounds.  So what were the highlights?  "My Uncle Jack" was wonderful even though it sounded like the product of some heavily dosed English band (the song would have sounded great on the "Nuggets II" set).  Also worth noting were California's unique, sustaining power chords.  Jimmy Page and company seem to have ripped off California's "Taurus" opening riff for their own "Stairway To Heaven".   Certainly not their strongest LP, but few band's have delivered as impressive a debut!  Ode tapped "Mechanical World" b/w "Uncle Jack" (Ode catalog number 108) as the lead off single.  Too eclectic for top-40 audiences, it managed to hit # 123 on the charts.


"Spirit" track listing:

(side 1)

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) -  

 

(side 2)

1.) Topanga Windows   (Jay Ferguson) - 

2.) Gramophone Man   (Jay Ferguson) - 

3.) Water Woman   (Jay Ferguson) - 

4.) The Great Canyon Fire In General   (Jay Ferguson) - 

5.) Elijah   (John Locke) -

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Family That Plays Together

Company: Epic

Catalog: KE 31461

Year: 1968

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: name in ink on back cover and inner label

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4160

Price: $10.00

Cost: $1.00

 

Produced by Lou Adler, 1968's "The Family That Plays Together" may be my favorite Spirit offering.  Unlike the debut, the sophomore LP found Ferguson and Randy California dividing the writing chores (California was limited to one song on the debut set).  In creative terms the two were quite different. Ferguson penned material such as "Silky Sam", "The Drunkard" and "Dream within a Dream" was characterized by a knack for writing tight, melodic and highly commercial material.  California offerings such as "It's All the Same", "Darlin' If" and "Jewish" were more eclectic, but in some ways more interesting.  The album also saw the band growing in their in-studio confidence and musical prowess.  Exemplified by songs such as "Poor Richard" their vocal performances were miles ahead of the debut.  Elsewhere, tracks such as "It Shall Be" aptly displayed their unique blend of jazz, rock and even classical influences.  The album also spun off the band's first and only top-40 hit (# 25) via the blazing rocker "I Got a Line On You" b/w "She Smiled" (Ode catalog number Z57-115).

 

"The Family That Plays Together" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) I Got a Line On You   (Randy California) - 2:37

2.) It Shall Be   (Randy California - John Locke) - 3:25

3.) Poor Richard   (Jay Ferguson) - 2:29

4.) Silky Sam   (Jay Ferguson) - 4:06

5.) Drunkard   (Jay Ferguson) - 2:28

6.) Darlin' If   (Randy California) - 3:38

 

(side 2)

1.) It's All the Same   (Randy California - Ed Cassady) - 4:40

2.) Jewish  (Randy California) - 3:23

3.) Dream within a Dream   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:13

4.) She Smiles   (Jay Ferguson) - 2:30

5.) Aren't You Glad   (Jay Ferguson) - 5:25

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus

Company: Epic

Catalog: E 30267

Country/State: US

Year: 1970

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: name in ink on back cover and inner label; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4164

Price: $8.00

Cost: $1.00

 

Produced by David Briggs, 1970's "Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus" is probably the LP most casual Spirit fans are familiar with.  With California and Ferguson (separately) contributing the bulk of the material, the album sported some of their most melodic and memorable compositions.  Highlights included Ferguson's "Animal Zoo" and the rollicking "Mr. Skin".  Elsewhere "Why Can't I Be Free" and California's "Nature's Way" (the latter sporting a groundbreaking pro-ecology lyric) were among the prettiest songs in the Spirit catalog.  Full of interesting production touches and sound effects (check out John Locke's instrumental "Space Child"), it's also a great "headphones" album.  Unfortunately, the set proved a poor seller which led to growing frustration within the band.  Within a matter of months Andes and Ferguson had left to pursue success with Jo Jo Gunne. Still, as the original line-up's last outing, it gets our vote as their most consistent and enjoyable release.    

"Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Prelude - Nothin' To Hide   (Randy California) - 3:43

2.) Nature's Way   (Randy California) - 2:40

3.) Animal Zoo   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:10

4.) Love Has Found a Way   (Randy California - John Locke) - 2:42

5.) Why Can't I Be Free   (Randy California) - 1:05

6.) Mr. Skin   (Jay Ferguson - Spirit) - 4:01

 

(side 2)

1.) Space Child (instrumental)  (John Locke) - 3:25

2.) When I Touch You   (Jay Ferguson) - 5:37

3.) Street Worm  (Jay Ferguson) - 3:43

4.) Life Has Just Begun   (Randy California) - 3:29

5.) Morning Will Come   (Randy California) - 2:50

6.) Soldier   (Randy California) - 2:50

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Feedback

Company: Epic

Catalog: E 31175

Country/State: US

Year: 1972

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; includes lyric insert

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1829

Price: $10.00

 

1972's David Briggs produced "Feedback" exemplified a band in transition.  The set was recorded in the wake of massive personnel changes that saw original  bassist Mark Andes, lead guitarist Randy California, and singer Jay Ferguson all split.   Brothers Al and John Staehely (lead vocals/bass and lead guitar respectively), were brought in as replacements.   Given the massive personnel changes, it probably shouldn't have come as a surprise to learn the album bore little resemblance to Spirit's earlier catalog.   With Al Staehely responsible for penning the majority of the ten tracks, there was little evidence of the band's quirky psych roots.  Instead, this time out tunes like 'Chelsea Girls' and Earth Shaker' bore a resemblance to the party-rock former Spirit members Andes and Ferguson were pursuing in their Jo Jo Gunne project.  Keyboardist John Locke pushed the band in a jazz-rock fusion direction via instrumentals like 'Puesta Del Scam' and 'Trancas Fog-Out'.   Even less expected was the acoustic ballad 'Mellow Morning' which found the band taking a stab at a country tune.  About the only thing you could really say was the results were different.  Not necessarily bad - different.  As lead singer Al Staehely was surprisingly good and while brother John may have lacked some of Randy California's flash, he was never less than professional.

 

Was it a great album ? Not by any stretch and it probably isn't something most folks will need in their collections.  

 

Epic seems to have given up on the band, not even bothering to float an American single.  In spite of the lack of promotional support, the collection managed to his # 65 on the US album charts.

    

"Feedback" track listing:

(side 1)

1.)  Chelsea Girls   (Al Staehely) - 3:26   rating: *** stars

Written by newcomer Staehely, 'Chelsea Girls' was one of the most conventional and commercial rockers the band ever did.  Always loved the references to Dylan Thomas and Andy Warhol, though I wasn't as thrilled by the shrill female backing singers.  This is the tune that was tapped as a French single:

- 1972's 'Chelsea Girls' b/w 'Cadillac Cowboys' (Epic catalog number EPC 8085)  rating: ** stars

2.) Cadillac Cowboys   ( Al Staehely) - 3:33

Conventional and slightly plodding blues-rocker that gave new lead guitarist John Staehely a moment in the spotlight.   The tune was tapped as a 45 in Spain and the UK:  In the US it was released as a promo 45.

- 1972's 'Cadillac Cowboy' b/w 'Darkness' (Epic catalog number S EPC 8083)  

- 1972's 'Cadillac Cowboy' b/w 'Cadillac Cowboy'  (Epic catalog number 5-10849)  

3.) Puesta Del Scam (instrumental)   (John Locke) - 2:04  rating: ** stars

Jazz-rock fusion instrumental, with the focus on rock.  Lots of John Staehely feedback guitar.  Imagine something alog the lines of  "Blow By Blow" era Jeff Beck.    

4.) Ripe and Ready   ( Al Staehely) - 3:48    rating: *** stars

'Ripe and Ready' was a pretty mid-tempo rocker that served as one of the album's more commercial offerings.  

5.) Darkness    (John Locke) - 4:47   rating: ** stars

The first half of keyboard-powered 'Darkness' sounded like something the band had stolen from a Holiday Inn lounge act.   The tune got a little better when the vocals kicked in, but once again they were accompanied by those shrill female backing singers.  

(side 2)

1.) Earth Shaker   ( Al Staehely) - 3:55     rating: *** stars

Likeable, but rather anonymous boogie rock that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Jo Jo Gunne release.  

2.) Mellow Morning   ( Al Staehely - Mark Andes) - 2:25  rating: ** stars

Who would have expected to hear a slice of acoustic country from these guys?   It was quite pretty, but not exactly something I wanted to hear on a Spirit album.   

3.) Right On Time   ( Al Staehely) - 2:43  rating: ** stars

Just when you were about to give up on 'Right On Time' the song swerved from country tune to conventional rocker.   Unfortunately there wasn't anything particularly endearing on this one. 

4.) Trancas Fog-Out (instrumental)   (John Locke) - 2:37     rating: *** stars

Surprisingly enjoyable, slightly jazz-rock fusion styled instrumental that served to highlight john Locke's 

keyboards and Al Staehely's bass moves.  

5.) Witch   ( Al Staehely) - 5:20   rating: *** stars

The slinky closing rocker captured the band at their hound dog best.    

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Son of Spirit

Company: Mercury

Catalog: SRM-1-1053

Year: 1976

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: includes lyric insert

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4681

Price: $10.00

 

Produced by Randy California, 1976's "Son of Spirit" found the band down to a three piece consisting of guitarist California, drummer Ed Cassidy and bassist Barry Keene.  Musically the set's a mixed success.  With California responsible for the majority of the material, tracks such as 'Family' and 'Circles' were clearly more focused and commercial than the previous "Spirit of '76" double album set. Mind you, California's vocals aren't always perfect.  He can be particularly trying on slower tracks such 'Maybe You'll Find' and ''.  That said, the album's actually fun to listen to and it sports more than it's share of trademarked weirdness.  The opening mid-tempo number 'Holy Man' is an apparently heartfelt reflection of California's religious beliefs.  Not bad, simply not what you'd expect to hear.  Personal favorites, 'Magic Fairy Princess" (one of California's prettiest melodies) and their weird two minute cover of The Beatles' 'Yesterday'.        

 

"Son of Spirit" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Holy Man   (Randy California) - 2:55

2.) Looking Into Darkness   (Randy California - Ed Cassidy) - 2:57

3.) Maybe You'll Find   (Randy California) - 2:36

4.) Don't Go Away   (Randy California) - 3:43

5.) Family   (Randy California) - 3:08

 

(side 2)

1.) Magic Fairy Princess   (Randy California) - 2:57

2.) Circle   (Randy California) - 3:28

3.) The Other Song   (Randy California - Ed Cassidy - Barry Keene) - 5:41

4.) Yesterday   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 1:58

5.) It's Time Now   (Randy California) - 3:00

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Farther Along

Company: Mercury

Catalog: SRM-1-1084

Year: 1976

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened); cut lower right corner; includes lyric insert

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5990

Price: $10.00

 

Finally enjoying a bit of stability on the personnel front and seemingly having figured out how to survive in a post Jay Ferguson environment, the band released 1976's "Farther Along".  Produced by Al Schmitt, the album was slammed by most folks and admittedly isn't one of their best, or most consistent performances.  By the same token it wasn't nearly as bad as critics would have you believe.  With all five members contributing material, the set was quite diverse, including stabs at country-rock ('Farther Along'), funk, ('Atomic Boogie') pop ('World Eat World Dog'), and conventional rock ('Colossus').  True, that versatility came at the expense of some of their quirkiness and at times they seem to have made a group decision to mimic Pablo Cruise and other mid-1970s AOR bands ('Stoney Night').  Still, it was nice to hear the group seemingly in good spirits and form (if only for a brief period).         

 

"Further Along" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Farther Along   (Randy California - Matt Andes - Ed Cassidy) - 3:23   rating: *** stars

Spirit doing a country-rock number?  Well why not?  Mark Andes had been a member of Firefall so they certainly had the credentials and experience ...  Not only that, but kicked along by a nice Mark Andes bass, once it got rolling, 'Farther Alone' was actually quite good.   The title track was tapped as a single:

- 1976's 'Farther Along' b/w 'Atomic Boogie' (Mercury catalog number 73837)

2.) Atomic Boogie   (Randy California - Matt Andes - Ed Cassidy - Mark Andes - John Locke) - 2:39   rating: * star

The lone band composition (spread the blame), 'Atomic Boogie' was a mess.  A dumb lyric coupled with a mindless, horn-propelled stab at white boy funk.  Yech !!!  

3.) World Eat World Dog   (Randy California - John Locke - Ed Cassidy) - 2:46   rating: **** stars

One of the standout performances, 'World Eat World Dog' was a breezy ballad that was surprisingly commercial.  Sporting a nice melody and some fantastic group harmonies, this one would have made a far better single than the title track.  

4.) Stoney Night   (Randy California) - 2:30   rating: ** stars

'Stoney Night' found the band coming awfully close to adult contemporary cocktail jazz ...  the horn charts certainly didn't help the song.  Music to listen to while waiting for your dentist ...    

5.) Pineapple (instrumental)    (John Locke) - 2:11    rating: ** stars

Penned by keyboardist Locke, the instrumental 'Pineapple' was pleasant, but pointless.    

6.) Colossus   (Randy California) - 3:01  rating: **** stars

Another standout performance, 'Colossus' had another strong melody and some interesting lyrics, though California's vocal was a little shaky.  Give it an extra star for the gorgeous acoustic guitars.   

 

(side 2)

1.) Mega Star   (Randy California - John Locke) - 3:26   rating: **** stars

Normally jazz-rock fusion moves bore me to tears, but 'Mega Star' was one of the rare exceptions.  The main melody was so strong that Locke's jazzy keyboards didn't really distract from the piece at all.   

2.) Phoebe (instrumental)   (Matt Andes) - 2:10   rating: *** stars

Penned by Matt Andes, the instrumental 'Phoebe' may have been the album's prettiest composition, but ultimately it sounded like something that might have been written for a film soundtrack.   

3.) Don't Lock Up Your Door   (Randy California - Matt Andes - Ed Cassidy) - 3:13   rating: ** stars

Another country-flavored number, 'Don't Lock Up Your Door'  could have been really good, but simply couldn't overcome California's listless vocal.

4.) Once With You    (Randy California - John Locke)- 1:32  rating: *** stars

The heavily orchestrated 'Once With You' was unlike anything else on the album.  At least to my ears, the song had a distinctively 1960s pop-psych feel.  Unfortunately, before it could fully develop the track faded out.  Shame.    

5.) Diamond Spirit   (Randy California - Matt Andes) - 2:28   rating: *** stars

Another sleeper, 'Diamond Spirit' had one of the album's most memorable melodies and showcased one of California's best vocals.  Another track that would have made a good single.   

6.) Nature's Way (instrumental)    (Randy California) - 1:59   rating: ** stars

I'm not even going to hazard a guess as to why the band felt the need to include an orchestrated version of 'Natures Way' on the album.  Needless to say, but Don Henderson's orchestration really didn't improve on the song.    

 

And for those nay sayers who didn't think Spirit couldn't sell - this one hit # 179 on the US charts !  It also saw the band fragment again with Mark Andes rejoining Firefall.  Matt Andes and John Locke also tendered their resignations leaving Jack Cassidy, Randy California and Barry Keane to continue the Spirit nameplate.



 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Spirit Live

Company: Potato/First American Record

Catalog: PR2001

Year: 1978

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut upper right corner; original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6387

Price: $10.00

 

Released on the Potato/First American Record imprint, "Spirit Live" is a true oddity.  If you believe the liner notes, these nine tracks were recorded at shows in London, Miami and Tampa. That's fine, except for the fact a couple of the songs sounded way to accomplished to be concert performances (check out ''). By he way, showcasing the band stripped down to a trio featuring guitarist Randy California, drummer Ed Cassidy and bassist Larry Knight, that would place the recordings in the 1977-78 timeframe.   So here's the interesting thing - judging by these nine tracks, even as a trio these guys were apparently a dynamite live act.  I have no idea how much post-production polish was added to the set, but in their stripped down format the band shed some of their eclecticism, offering up a more mainstream attack that I found very appealing.  If you were looking to hear their 'hit' in a live setting, this was a pretty good place to start as these versions of 'Nature's Way', 'Animal Zoo', and 'I've Got a Line On You' all stayed pretty true to the original studio versions and in some cases (check out the dazzling 'Nature's Way') may have been even better than the studio originals.  The set was also interesting given it included four Sprit rarities; 'Rock and Roll Planet', 'Looking Down', 'These Are Words' and 'Hollywood Dreams' (the latter wasn't a cover of the Thunderclap Newman song). The band also deserved kudos for avoiding the usual double album live set drollness.  Sure, there were a couple of dull patches (the seemingly endless synthesizer solo on 'Looking Down' and most of the ten minute 'All the Same'), but elsewhere keeping it short and sweet worked wonders.

 

"Live Spirit" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Rock and Roll Planet    (Randy California - Ed Cassidy) - 2:52     rating: **** stars

A never before released song, 'Rock and Roll Planet' showcased a surprisingly tuneful and accomplished Spirit, complete with sweet harmony vocals.  Easily one of California and Cassidy's best melodies and it gave you a taste for what an amazing, if overlooked guitarist California was.   

2.) Nature's Way    (Randy California) - 3:35    rating: **** stars

Hard to believe I'm saying this, but if anything, the live version of 'Nature's Way' may have surpassed the studio offering.  Stripped down to a trio, this version avoided all the non-essential bells and whistles with California and company forced to focus on the song's essentials.  Cassidy's drumming was amazing (how often do most folks really notice the drumming?) and California's vocals were simply stunning ...   Fantastic performance.   

-3.) Animal Zoo   (Jay Ferguson) - 4:07   rating: **** stars

When he was with the band Jay Ferguson always brought a commercial edge to Spirit and that was aptly on display in the live version of  'Animal Zoo' .  With California taking lead vocals and the trio turning in some stunning three part harmonies, this version was another one that actually seemed to benefit from the stripped down live setting.   

4.) 1984    (Randy California) - 3:19    rating: *** stars

I can't say '1984' was my favorite Spirit song, but the live version was definitely an improvement over the studio track.  Way more rockin' ...   

5.) Looking Down    (Randy California) - 7:17  rating: *** stars

Billed as a 'new song', 'Looking Down' was another surprisingly mainstream and tuneful California tune.  With a bit of editing (notably ditching Larry Knight's extended bass solo), it was easy to picture this one getting mid-1970s radio play with a bit of support.  Maybe it was just my ears, but this one sure sounded like it reworked segments of 'Animal Zoo' into the melody.  I've also seen the song entitled 'Looking Down from a Mountain'.   YouTube has a clip of the band performing the song at a 1979 German concert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA_PYvivsfQ 

 

(side 2)

1.) All the Same    (Randy California - Ed Cassidy) - 10:12   rating: ** stars

I'll give the band the benefit of the doubt with respect to the ten minute plus 'All the Same'.  To my ears the track was little more than a stage set for a seemingly never-ending Cassidy drum solo.  Mind you it was a good drum solo, but it was still a drum solo.  For anyone interested, YouTube has a couple of clips showing the band performing the song as part of a 1978 German concert:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VbzwH4YuvE  and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4w33WKuKQFM    

2.) I've Got a Line On You   (Randy California) - 3:06   rating: **** stars

Their best known song, 'I've Got a Line On You' appears in a fast and hard punching rendition.  Biggest surprise here are how nice the harmony vocals are ...  post-production support perhaps ?  

3.) These Are Words    (Randy California) - 3:56   rating: **** stars

Another 'new' song, in spite of the audience sound effects, 'These Are Words' certainly didn't sound like a live track - compared to the other songs it had a totally different sound and vibe.  If it was a live track, the song appeared to have been recorded in a small club with excellent acoustics and subjected o quite a bit of post-production work.  No idea what the song's genesis was, but it was really, really good and it was unfortunate that it was effectively lost on this album.

4.) Hollywood Dream    (Randy California) - 4:11   rating: ** stars

'Hollywood Dream' was a middling slice of boogie rock.  California used it to turn in some tasty guitar pyrotechnics, but otherwise there wasn't all that much to get excited about.  For anyone interested, YouTube has a clip of the band performing the tune for the German Rockpalast television program: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLFUiFAgHto&feature=related  

 

For hardcore Spirit fans, with various tweaks and edits, this material seems to have been reissued on a number of albums including:

 

  

- 1978's "Live" (Illegal catalog number ILP 001)

- 1978's "Made In German" (Potato catalog number 172200)

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Spirit of '84

Company: Mercury

Catalog: 422-818 514-1 M1

Year: 1984

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2653

Price: $15.00

 

 

I'm a big Spirit fan, so it was nice to see the original line-up reunite (Mark Andes, Randy California, Ed Cassidy,. Jay Ferguson, and John Locke).  Sans Jay Ferguson, the reunited band undertook some touring and apparently sounded killer, but I have to admit to being totally lost with respect to why they felt the need to re-record some of their classic tunes in an '80s, hair-band metal mode.  

 

"The Thirteenth Dream" catalog number  Mercury catalog number MERL 35 

 

Produced by David De Vore, "Spirit of '84" (released as "The Thirteenth Dream" throughout the rest of the world), was seemingly intended to update their sound and introduce the band to a new generation of fans.  The back panel photo even looked like some marketer's bad idea of a glamour shot.   I guess you couldn't blame the band for wanting to get the commercial breakthrough that largely alluded them the first time around.  With the exception of a horrible remake of 'Fresh Garbage', they really didn't sound bad, but exemplified by tracks like 'I Got a Line On You' these remakes weren't the way to go.  Underscoring the problem, the three new tunes were forgettable mid-'80s AOR that bore little resemblance to the classic Spirit catalog.  Penned by Ferguson 'Black Satin Nights' and 'Pick It Up' were faceless  top-40 product that wouldn't have sound out of place on one of his solo albums.  California's 'All Over the World' sported a goofy "love and peace" lyric that at least made you smile.  Hum, questionable concept that did nothing to spur their commercial careers.  

 

"Further Along" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Black Satin Nights   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:12   rating: *** stars

One of the three new songs, nobody was going to mistake 'Black Satin Nights' for a classic Spirit tune.  The now- dated synthesizer opening was certainly disconcerting, giving these guys a anonymous, hair-band AOR sound that stripped them of the very characteristics that made them eclectic and unique. Here they sounded like ...  well Foreigner.   Great if you liked Foreign.  Not so great if you liked Spirit.  

2.) Mr. Skin   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:20   rating; **** stars

Anyone who loved the original was probably going to be okay with remake since it didn't stray too far from the classic tune. The Jerry Jumonville sax solos were unnecessary, but not a major flaw.  Ferguson seldom sounded as good.   The song was released as a UK single:

- 1984's 'Mr. Skin' b/w 'Fresh Garbage' (Mercury catalog number MER-162)

3.) Mechanical World   (Mark Andes - Jay Ferguson) - 5:50   rating: *** stars

Another remake that was ... well okay.  Nice California solo on this one.

4.) Pick It Up  (Jay Ferguson) - 3:00   rating: *** stars

The second new song, 'Pick It Up' was a professional, but bland bar band rocker.   This one could have easily slotted on a Ferguson solo album.   One again, the highlight came in the form of California's solo work.  

5.) All Over the World   (Randy California - D. Crawford - L. Henke) - 3:57   rating: *** stars

The third new song, 'All Over the World' was a sweet, if goofy ballad.  Powered by some nice Locke piano, the song served to showcase California's overlooked voice and it had a decent enough melody, but the the lyrics were truly sophomoric.  

 

(side 2)

1.) 1984  (Randy California) - 3:54   rating: *** stars

Mark Andes' bass remained the driving force on this one, but '1984' was one of the remakes that simply paled compared to the original.   Wonder why the faded it out so early?  Extra star in memory of the original.  The song was released as a 7" and 12" single in the UK:

  7" format:

- 1984's '1984' b/w 'Elijah' (Mercury catalog number MER 151)

  12" format

- 1984's '1984' b/w 'Elijah' (Mercury catalog number MER X151)

2.) Uncle Jack   (Jay Ferguson) - 2:59   rating; *** stars

One of my favorite tunes off their 1968 debut album, the 'Uncle Jack' remake was another fine, but unremarkable performance.

3.) Nature's Way    (Randy California) - 2:44   rating; *** stars

Classic Spirit.  Why bother messing with it?  The synthesizer washes really didn't add much to the remake.

4,) Fresh Garbage   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:05   rating: *** stars

Lots of folks will disagree, but to my ears 'Fresh Garbage' was probably the tune that suffered the most damage in the remake process ...  Again, I'll giv eit an extra star out of reference to the original which was superior in every respect.

5.) I Got a Line On You    (Randy California) - 7:34   rating: *** stars

The first couple of times I played the extended remake if 'I Got a Line On You' I was horrified.  Complete with an all-star cast of guitarists including former Doobie Brother Skunk Baxter and ex-Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Welch the results sounded like an anonymous hair band trying to do a Spirit cover. Adding in a percussion break (Bobby Lakind and Joe Lala) didn't help.  You literally had to pinch yourself to remember this was really Spirit.  I won't tell you this is a great remake, but with time and patience the original song's spectre comes through.  Not sure when or where it was filmed, but YouTube has a television performance of the song (including all the guest guitarists) at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aKNhvMd_5U  

 

 

 

BACK TO BADCAT FRONT PAGE

BACK TO BADCAT CATALOG PAGE

BACK TO BADCAT PAYMENT INFORMATION