Posts Tagged ‘Spirit’


Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Mechanical World / Spirit

Listen: Mechanical World / Spirit
Mechanical World / Spirit

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 early 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.

Spirit / I Got A Line On You

Listen: I Got A Line On You / Spirit
I Got A Line On You / Spirit

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 / Spirit

Listen: Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit
Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit

‘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 act that night (October 19, 1969): The Kinks.

It was The Kinks first US tour 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. I walked out of the venue never to be the same again.

I digressed, sorry.

1984 / Spirit

Listen: 1984 / Spirit
1984 / Spirit

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?

Animal Zoo / Spirit

Listen: Animal Zoo / Spirit
Animal Zoo / Spirit

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 as incorrect for his benefit. He wasn’t having it, his loss. Nonetheless, I would tolerate him to get the records.

Mr. Skin / Spirit USA

Listen: Mr. Skin / Spirit
Mr. Skin / Spirit

This became mine one summer night’s visit a month or so later, along with the Juicy Lucy, Sea Train and Vivian Stanshall singles.

King Crimson

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Listen: Cat Food / King Crimson
Cat Food / King Crimson

They’d probably cringe, but even the most hardened album acts like King Crimson made a decent single from time to time. Or the labels, back before creative control was bestowed on the artist, may have heard a hook in the thick of an opus, thereby being able to edit/rearrange a twelve minute album piece into three and change for a 7″ single.

Not sure if that’s the case with ‘Cat Food’. King Crimson’s albums never did hold my attention through a whole side, so I’m not positive if this is the full version. But I sure did love this song when it got some concentrated play from the local college station, WAER. What a surprise to walk into Discount Records, on the Syracuse University campus, and find a few copies of the single in their racks.

That store was a shrine in the late 60′s, when record buying was in full, and I do mean full swing. A beehive of white drugged up students with money to spend on white drugged up rock music made for the ultimate market. Box lots of all the latest releases by Ten Years After, The Nice, Spirit, Pink Floyd and whatnot seemingly evaporated into thin air.

I’d bet the stunning cover art on those King Crimson albums drew in more than one spontaneous purchase. So too did this 7″ picture sleeve, in those days unheard of, particularly from the UK. Between both it’s mini album construction, and the pink inner sleeve housing a matching pink labelled pressing, I found myself committing an exorbitant $1.98 to the cause. Excellent investment, as it turned out.

Lonnie Mack

Friday, September 11th, 2009

lonniemackwhamuka, Lonnie Mack, The Move, Fillmore East, Crosby Stills & Nash, Fraternity, Stateside

Listen: Wham / Lonnie Mack LonnieMackWham.mp3

lonniemacksuzieukb,  Creedence Clearwater Revivial, Lonnie Mack, The Move, Fillmore East, Crosby Stills & Nash, Fraternity, Stateside

Listen: Suzie Q / Lonnie Mack LonnieMackSuzie.mp3

Often lumped with Duane Eddy and Link Wray, contemporaries of the day, Lonnie Mack’s musical distinction is the blues as opposed to a rockabilly instrumental slant. Not surprisingly, he’s widely regarded as a ground-breaking rock guitarist, whose artistic impact far outreaches his commercial accomplishments, although he had a few massive records. His first, ‘Memphis’ hit Top 5 in early ’63 on both Billboard’s Pop and RnB charts.

Things were clearly different in those days. It’s not the first time that a record, recorded quickly during some down time, post a proper session, somehow got released without the artist knowing, and ended up a hit – again to said artist’s surprise. Such was apparently the case with ‘Memphis’

‘Wham’, a followup, has significance for (a) being another unlikely instrumental success and (b) for actually describing a sound both unique and original at the time in it’s title. The culprit, a whammy bar, in reality a Bigsby tremelo arm. To further enhance the vibrato on his tunes, Lonnie Mack employed a variant of Robert Ward’s distortion technique, using a 1950s-era tube-fired Magnatone amplifier to produce a ‘rotating, fluttery sound’. Hence, the blues guitar revolution began, at least according to some.

Either way, this is a great double sider. Adults and children alike should own a handful of his 7′s for when the appropriate party moment occurs at one’s home.

I was quite excited back in September ’69 when Lonnie Mack was on the bill at The Fillmore East as main support to headliners Crosby, Stills & Nash. Opening that weekend: The Move. I just sent away for two tickets and announced to my Dad that he was either taking me or I was hitch hiking. Mind you, we lived in Syracuse and NYC was a good 300 miles away. To be honest, this was all about seeing The Move, but planning to stay long enough to gawk at Lonnie Mack and his wire-fire fingers.

Sadly, The Move never did play New York, so I exchanged my seats for another weekend’s triple header: Spirit / The Kinks / The Bonzo Dog Band. A life changing tradeoff, I can assure you.

The Bonzo Dog Band

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Mr. Apollo / The Bonzo Dog Band

Listen: Mr. Apollo / The Bonzo Dog Band
Mr. Apollo / The Bonzo Dog Band

The Beatles lifted so much from these guys. Tell me ‘Yellow Submarine’, or lots of SGT PEPPER and MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR weren’t influenced by the work of The Bonzos, and I’ll know you haven’t bothered to listen to them. It may have been innocent flattery, but I’m not too sure about that. Paul McCartney did produce their hit, ‘I’m The Urban Spaceman’. He may have felt guilty. I do pick on The Beatles when I can, too vaudeville for me and they were quitters but admittedly had many good singles. It’s that Beatles vs Rolling Stones rivalry I can’t quite shake.

Last year, a friend at EMI in London sent me the entire set of Bonzo Dog Band reissues on cd. I still play them a lot, very worth seeking out. As for the 7″ vinyl, ‘Mr Apollo’ was the first to be released after they dropped the Doo Dah from their name. The US was lucky enough to see them at The Fillmore East, opening for Spirit and The Kinks, their first US shows in three or four years after the Musician Union’s ban, we’re talking 1969 and ARTHUR had just been released. This was October 17 & 18 to be exact.