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Spirit - Every album, every song

  by Nicky Crewe

published: 30 / 8 / 2023

Spirit - Every album, every song


Meticulously researched, the On Track series connects us to the bands we know and love. In ‘Raging Pages’ guest reviewer Nicky Crewe finds this exploration and celebration of the music of Spirit is a reminder of just how innovative and influential they were .

The author of this latest publication from the On Track series, Rev Keith A Gordon, has been writing about the music he loves for 50 years. Spirit are one of my favourite bands too, conjuring up associations and memories of the Seventies for me. Alongside Love and Captain Beefheart their music had to be discovered. It wasn’t easily available. Commercial success evaded them, but their reputation and influence on other musicians continues to grow and gain recognition. As with other books in this series, we are led through a detailed history of the band, their members, their albums and their music. You could trawl the internet for months to try and piece the story together. Rev Keith A Gordon has done all that hard work for us and you can trust in the research he has pulled together in a relatively slim volume. Thanks to this research I have found out facts I didn’t know at back in the Seventies. Ry Cooder was a founder member of the Rising Sons at the age of 17, the Los Angeles based band that then transformed into Spirit. Randy Wolfe’s mother married Ed Cassidy, one time drummer with the Rising Sons. I knew Ed Cassidy was Randy California’s stepfather but I didn’t know he had been given his California nickname by Jimmy James in New York at the age of 15. Jimmy James encouraged the young Randy as a guitarist. They played in a band together until Jimmy James moved to the UK and changed his name to Jimi Hendrix. Their original name, Spirits Rebellious, was taken from a Kahlil Gibran book. By 1967 they were simply known as Spirit. I’d always thought there was a transcendental association with their name. Gibran and rebelliousness gives it a different energy. I first came across their music on the ‘Rock Machine Turns You On’ sampler released in 1968. ‘Fresh Garbage was intriguing in every way. Back in the Seventies it was friends who turned you on to new music, helping you to develop your musical tastes and connections. We listened around a stereo system in a candlelit room, often with enhanced concentration. This intense experience means that many of these tracks are hard wired into my memory. I only have to read a title to recall the song and the impact it had on me. Perhaps I’m the perfect audience for this series of books because of that. ‘The Twelve Dreams of Dr Sardonicus’ (1970) and ‘Future Games,(A Magical Kahauna Dream)’ (1977) are still in my collection and I will never tire of them. Out of their time and ahead of their time, so many of their songs have present day relevance in both form and lyrics. Along with their other albums from the early seventies, ‘Spirit’, ‘Clear Spirit’, and ‘The Family That Plays Together’, this was a soundtrack to my life, both at work in a hippy shop and at home. Speaking of the family that plays together and that hippy shop, I need to share a story. In the very early seventies Spirit played at Manchester University’s student union. Our shop was just down the road. We sold clothes, second hand records and smoking accessories. Our customers were mostly young long haired hippies and students. A bald headed older man, dressed in black, with an American accent walked in that Saturday morning to make some purchases. I’m pleased to say that we recognised him, but we kept our cool. It was Ed Cassidy. Now I wish I hadn’t been quite so cool and had told him how much I loved their music.

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Spirit (2011)
Spirit - Spirit
Andrew Carver examines the career of late 1960's and early 1970's West Coast act Spirit, who have had recently had two albums of previously lost material, 'The Original Potato Album' and 'Tales from the Westside', at last released


The Archive...An Introduction (2009)
Fine retrsopective album and introduction to 60s and 70s group Spirit, which compiles together tracks from seven of their alabums

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