Saturday, May 2, 2009

SO MANY RECORDS, SO LITTLE TIME: Spirit

SO MANY RECORDS, SO LITTLE TIME: Spirit

(From SO MANY RECORDS, SO LITTLE TIME Blog)
SATURDAY, MAY 2, 2009
Spirit






(Go to the original blog to hear the songs)

Luckily, despite the revolution in stereophonic sound that was going hand in hand with the album format of 1968, most singles were still issued in mono. Such was the case for Spirit's first release, on both the promo (listen above) and stock copies. 'Mechanical World' epitomized the dark side of the LSD generation, and defined late night radio. I always had fantasies of this and many tracks by The Doors being the soundtrack to driving through a pitch dark desert in the wee hours. God knows why - I'd never even been to a desert. There wasn't one near Syracuse although I certainly felt like I was growing up somewhere equally deserted, hence the possible connection in my brain.

I loved Spirit from the get go. They didn't sound English which was a strict requirement, but thankfully they didn't sound Americana either. Plus they looked good. LA bands tended to.

Somehow rather quickly, Spirit had a hit with their second 45, 'I Got A Line On You'. It was welcomed. Their albums were great and hearing them on Top 40 radio made us all feel liberated. Things were pretty good on the airwaves. The Who and The Cream were getting some play, as were Big Brother & The Holding Company, Iron Butterfly and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. I was rather content.

'Dark Eyed Woman' was the lead track and first single from the difficult 3rd album CLEAR. Difficult (as a second album is known to be these days) because they'd had a hit despite the 'album band' and 'live band' habitat from which they came. Top 40 was developing it's evil lack of loyalty way back then, and 'Dark Eyed Woman' didn't get much play. But FM radio, much like today's Sirius satellite stations, made up for it. Touring in support of it's release, I finally got to see the band live. Despite how fantastic they were - and believe me, fantastic is putting it mildly, I was reeling from the support acts that night (October 18, 1969): The Kinks and The Bonzo Dog Band. Reeling indeed.

It was The Kinks first US show after the three year musician's union ban. They had just released ARTHUR, much of which they played along with tracks from THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, 'Waterloo Sunset', 'Autumn Almanac', 'Sunny Afternoon', 'Death Of A Clown' and 'Til The End Of The Day', their opening song. Jawdropping. Plus third on the bill: The Bonzos. I walked out of the venue never to be the same again.

I digressed, sorry.

Spirit released '1984', a non LP single, next. This was not a common move in the day. Still, it's forever attached to Spirit's CLEAR era, being of same time period. Actually, '1984' only ever appeared on LP once BEST OF SPIRIT was issued years later. The year 1984 seemed an eternity away on release and the record contributed to a political and ecological slant the band had taken from inception. Remember 'Fresh Garbage' from that first album?

Many rightfully consider the original lineup's fourth and final album, THE TWELVE DREAMS OF DR. SARDONICUS, to be their art rock pinnacle. At least I read something to that effect recently. The two singles released from it are seminal. In fact the first, 'Animal Zoo', came out seemingly months prior to the album. I swiped it from a local album rock station whose late night dj occasionally let me visit. I honestly don't remember their call letters, and he was a rather unpleasant know-it-all. I once recall him adamantly arguing with me about Humble Pie, claiming all their members, instead of just one, were from The Small Faces (wrong) and that none were from The Herd or Spooky Tooth (wrong) - which I desperately tried to point out for his benefit. He wasn't having it, his loss. Nonetheless, I would tolerate him to get the records. This became mine one summer night along with the Juicy Lucy, Sea Train and Vivian Stanshall singles.

posted by so many records, so little time at 12:01 am

1 comment:

Louis said...

Wow, rarely ever run into a Spirit fan anymore and add that to the Kinks of which I have uncountable amounts of vinyl and our musical tastes must mesh pretty well. However, I never really got into the Bonzo Dog Band but LUVS me Zappa. Nice post.