Exposé Online banner

Randy California — The Euro-American Years 1979-1983
(Acadia ACAD 8141, 1983/2007, 4CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2008-01-01

The Euro-American Years 1979-1983 Cover art

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.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 35, 2007 releases, 1983 recordings

Related artist(s): Randy California

Latest news

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Hualun - Asian River – For their second release, this Wuhan post-rock crew has stepped up a few notches from their debut, Silver Daydream (reviewed in issue 38). They’ve moved to one of China’s most prominent...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues