Thursday, August 24, 2006

Spirit - The Family That Plays Together (1968)

Admittedly, history has not been as kind to Spirit as it has to many of their contemporaries. The fiery guitar work and Hendrix-esque vocals of Randy California mixed with jazzy instrumentals and tight vocal harmonies made for some exceptional and thoroughly enjoyable music.

The album opens with Spirit's only Top 30 hit, the California penned, I've Got a Line On You. Giving up his trademark multi-tracked guitars, Randy California instead plays it simple with an infectious and catchy guitar solo-- proving to his fans as much as to himself that sometimes less truly is more.

The hopeful, It Shall Be, follows. In an era where America's youth were being sent to Vietnam, California wanted to spread a little sunshine instead-- a little hope for the future in a present that was quite scary for many.

Another highlight to this exceptional album of stand-out tracks is Darlin' If, featuring beautifully tight vocal harmonies in a style of California folk-rock that would later be made popular by musicians like Jackson Browne. The guitar solo is poignant and beautiful and the song is gorgeously emotive.

There are no weak tracks on this exceptional album, it's just a collection of great music from a much different era from a band that, unfortunately, has largely been forgotten in the pages of musical history.

Related reading
Randy California - Kaptain Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds (1972) review
Spirit biography from the All Music Guide
Randy California biography from Wikipedia
Randy California biography from the All Music Guide
Jay Ferguson biography from the All Music Guide


Charlie said...

Even though I know who Spirit and Randy California are I am not very familiar with their music. This post makes me think I've been missing something.

Perplexio said...

charlie: In all honesty, I've only REALLY gotten into them recently. I'm not a huge fan by any stretch but I do certainly enjoy them. I'm glad I did take the time to give them a chance recently as I've discovered some really good music as a result.

bearockr said...

Oh my ! I seriously enjoyed reading this review, perplexio , because I actually have never heard a lot of Spirit's works, and I'm now trying to watch some of their vids on youtube, though its tough to find the ones you mentioned above, but seeing your appreciation for the guitar part, and that it has simple but influential solos makes me want to try hard too, and so am I ! Do tell me if you find some videos :)