Thursday, May 03, 2007

Spirit - Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus

Once upon a time, my dad was playing some 60s/70s FM rock compilation he'd gotten from Starbucks a long while back. It had some pretty rad shit... "Instant Karma," "Alone Again Or," "Maybe I'm Amazed," that song "Time Has Come Today" by the Chambers Brothers, "I Saw The Light," and probably something by Rod Stewart or Traffic or some shit. Then there was a song on there called "Nature's Way" by Spirit. Hearing it all those years ago, it sounded pretty damn familiar, like something I had heard on a classic rock radio station at some point, somewhat of a less sissyish Moody Blues. Decent enough song, blah, blah, blah.

Some time after that, when I was in the eighth grade, I picked up a Mojo Magazine that had articles on Smile and the Mars Volta and all this shit about "The Greatest Lost Albums," and there was a "letter to the editor" in the beginning of the magazine complimenting an article that the publication ran on Spirit a few issues back. I was like, "Oh, shit, it's that 'Nature's Way' band, cool." Right then I sort of assumed that they were some 70s classic rock band that no one ever talked about for some reason, probably because they didn't kick as much ass as Steely Dan or the Floyd or something! I figured they just sounded like Traffic, anyway. Not that I have anything against Traffic. It was just an assumption.

Some time last year, I saw some dude on the internetz talking about the awesomeness/underratedness of this album, as well as a solo album from Randy California, the singer/guitarist in this band. I was like, "Hmm, classic rock psychedelic guitar rocking all-American good times? I'm gonna get on this shit!"

And that I did.

I've been listening to this album a lot this week. Spirit really does seem to be "the great lost classic rock band," very much a product of that magical period when classic rock was transitioning from psychedelia to all-out bombast; which is to say that between The Who Sell Out and Who's Next, there was Tommy. There was the Guess Who. There was the James Gang. The production on that stuff is much fuller and has a greater presence than a lot of 60s things, but we're not quite into the new decade just yet. Rock's balls we're still struggling to not drop down too low JUST YET.

And so we have Spirit. Randy California was 19 when this album was recorded and the drummer was his 47 year old stepdad! What the fuck??? Must have been awkward having groupie boning sessions and what-have-you. The remastering on the CD sounds really damn good. David Briggs produced this way back in the day! He recorded a bunch of Neil Young albums! That must be why this album rules.

And it does. Sure, it's pretty "psychedelic," and a lot of these songs sound like they should be in the opening credits of some movie about groovy young persons doing acid or riding around on motorcycles with Dennis Hopper or something. But these guys, these guys just had fucking boatloads of talent. They musicianship kicks axe, and some of this shit is funky, and some of it is jazzy, but they manage to a) make it not sound like pointless genre exercises or b) not use the diversity of influences as an excuse to stretch out and jam their dicks into each other. After all, two of the guys were related, and that's just gross! EEEEEEEHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

No, this here record is just well-crafted, ambitious pop music to "expand your mind" with (ultra-swell melodies popping up all over the place!), and the fact that a couple of the guys were really young (or was it just the one dude?) gives it this sort of fresh, youthful impressiveness. "Street Worm" has a cool guitar solo! The transition between the two sections of the first track is rad as hell! The synthesizer on "Space Child" isn't totally dopey! Excellent use of dual vocalists! A "lost classic" if I've ever heard one.

And I have. It's called Dark Side of the Moon. Has anyone else heard this album? It's pretty gay, thanks.

Rating: I like it a lot! It's a grower! Dick jokes!

Song: "Animal Zoo"... quality pop song, right here!

1 comment:

Joe said...

I have a Spirit greatest hits CD but I've never listened to it. Maybe I should?