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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Spirit - The Family That Plays Together (USA 1968)

An Uncle Roddus Album Review

For me there are four bands that stand as the peak of 60s popular music, not including the Beatles, who pretty much define the era, although not all of these four were all that popular at the time. The Mothers Of Invention, Buffalo Springfield, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and Spirit.
I am not sure how I became aware of Spirit back in the late 80s or there about, but Edsel records had re issued this LP and it somehow found its way into my collection. It soon became a favourite with its wonderful mix of jazzy/psychedelic rock, being a very accomplished set without any weak tracks . Although the sound is firmly rooted in the late 60s, it still sounds good today and for me back then it came across as the quintessential 60s album. The album kicks of with the single "I Got A Line On You", an upbeat rocker which had moderate success and helped the albums sales at the time and highlights Randy California's excellent guitar sound. "It Shell Be" is a more mellower number propelled along with a good base line and interspersed with brass and wind to fill it out. A much more jazzy feel with pleasant vocals. "Poor Richard" is a much more Psychedelic sounding bass fuelled  number before segueing into the more ballad like "Silky Sam" with its strings and subtle guitar, although the song changed tempo before getting a bit more offbeat briefly in the middle. "Drunkard" starts of with melancholic strings and vocals before going psychedelic to fade. "Darlin' If" has a really cool, and again melancholic sounding  vocal. Another song that had differing tempos with some lovely subtle guitaring in the quieter parts. 'It's All The Same" is more up-tempo and slightly funky and I really dig the bass playing and the song is topped if with a great guitar break and drum solo. "Jewish" is the most radical track here with its Indian sounding drum intro with what I assume to be Jewish lyrics before it goes psychedelic with the guitars. "Dream Within a Dream" continues on with the top quality of the song writing with a great vocal and excellent guitar support and with the ever present piano supporting to good effect. "She Smiles" is a great pop song and one of the strongest here with great piano support also. "Aren't You Glad" finishes the album as strongly as it began with this mid tempo number, with Randy pumping out some nice licks. My main gripe with this excellent album is the production is a little muddy and it can be difficult to separate out the instrumentation for closer inspection and it doesn't do justice to Jay Ferguson's great voice. There aren't really any stand out, blow your mind classic,s on this album, just a consistent bunch of very strong songs which make it a classic album as a whole and it does have a bit of a concept feel to it, especially the way the songs segue into each other. A Roddus rating of 5/5 though.

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