Randy California — The Euro-American Years 1979-1983
(Acadia ACAD 8141, 1983/2007, 4CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2008-01-01
It merits discussion as to what, in the early 80s context, constituted the difference between a Spirit album and a Randy California album. Because nearly every Spirit composition in those days was California's, and he was the focal point of that band, it would seem that the two were essentially interchangeable, or at the very least conveniently blurred. But in fact, the material released on the two Randy California LPs herein (Euro-American and Shattered Dreams) and various demos, singles, EPs and live sets that this sprawling four-disc set is chronologically aligned with generally favor a more straight-ahead hard rock approach laced with melodic hooks and flashy guitar chops than the more eclectic and diverse material that had been recorded under the Spirit moniker to date. But indeed, during this four to five year period those differences often became blurred for the musicians involved and fans alike.
At some point after the Spirit Live album in '78, Spirit split up and California was offered the opportunity to make a go of a solo career by none other than Ian Gillan, with an opening slot on the former Deep Purple singer's 1979 European solo tour. A trio was quickly assembled with drummer Jack Willoughby and bassist Steve "Liberty" Loria, and the three took off for England as the Randy California Band. They toured, some demos were recorded, and then the band came home. Almost immediately, Loria became the touring bassist of a new version of Spirit in early 1980. It was during that time that recordings began for what was to be a new Spirit album that ultimately never saw the light of day (included herein, of course). Around '81, the Potatoland album was finally released, and another European tour was arranged, during which California was signed by Beggars Banquet (UK) label to do the solo Euro-American LP, which is included in its entirety on disc one, along with additional material recorded concurrently that appeared on various bonus discs, EPs, singles, and versions of the LP released in other countries, as well as plenty of unreleased cuts. Disc two carries on with additional recordings from the period, some of which ended up on the Shattered Dreams LP in '83, others recorded as demos, yet others unreleased. Disc three features excellent live recordings from the Spirit 1980-81 band featuring RC, Ed Cassidy, Loria, and keyboardist George Valuck, from various dates and venues, mostly stateside. Finally we come to disc four, the "collector's bonus" disc, which is roughly split between demos and miscellany from the period, and a complete soundboard recording of the Randy California Band in Ayr, Scotland, November '79. The sound quality on this last disc tends to be a bit dodgy, especially on the live material, but apparently these were the only surviving recordings of that tour. Together, these four discs include nearly all the archival material that could be found from this period (and deemed listenable) by archivist Mick Skidmore, and all taken it's probably a bit more than the casual fan needs, but then again, at a price tag of around $28, how can one go wrong.
Related artist(s): Randy California
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more