Spirit — Salvation... The Spirit of '74
(Acadia ACAD 8173, 1975/2007, 3CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2008-01-01
One of the heretofore undocumented periods in Spirit's career began shortly after Epic's rejection of Potatoland in '73. Randy California left the group (for the second time) and moved to Molokai, while drummer Ed Cassidy and bassist Larry Knight drafted two new guitarists and a keyboardist (this lineup is often called the "fake Spirit") and continued touring for the next eight months. California's time in Molokai was very productive from a songwriting standpoint, and in the summer of '74 he reconvened the band with Cass and bassist Steve Jones and began working on new material and playing occasional gigs in Hawaii. Around October of that year California relocated to Colorado, rejoining Cassidy and original Spirit bassist Mark Andes (who had by this time left Jo Jo Gunne), continuing work on the new songs and playing some live dates as a trio. Some of these shows are documented on the first two discs of this set, with material culled from dates at Ebbetts Field in Denver and the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland. What's so surprising about these live sets is that it's almost all new material — only a few songs played from the first three Spirit albums, and nothing from Sardonicus. The band played some excellent covers in these sets as well, including "Hey Joe," The Stones' "Happy," and Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" and "Like a Rolling Stone," all of which would become staples of Spirit's repertoire from that point forward. Several of the new songs would eventually get the studio treatment on 1975's Spirit of '76 double-LP set, but probably just as many would be abandoned, and appear on this live set for the first time. Some material from the '75 tour with bassist Barry Keene is also included to round out the two discs.
Concurrently the trio also recorded numerous studio demos for an album tentatively titled The Spirit of Salvation, which are included here on the third disc of this set. Ultimately the Salvation album was scrapped when the band, better financed after some high profile gigs in '75, recorded Spirit of 76 and signed with Mercury. Some of the demo material from late '74 would appear in newly recorded arrangements on the albums Son of Spirit and Future Games in late '75 and '77 respectively, and the faux-Potatoland in '81. In many cases these early versions have a charm, honesty and simplicity that stands equally strong next to those versions that were eventually released — in particular "Family," "Looking into Darkness," "Maybe You'll Find," "Stars Are Love," and "It's Time Now." And, like the material from the two live discs, there are plenty of absolutely great songs on this studio disc that were never released in any form until now. All taken, this is an excellent set that explores one of the many periods and lineups of Spirit that has been, until now generally unheard.
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more