Exposé Online banner

Spirit — The Original Potato Land
(Floating World FLOATM6080, 1973/2011, 2CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-01-16

The Original Potato Land Cover art

Anyone hearing this disc for the very first time might well conclude that this is the weirdest album ever produced. On one level there is an Orwellian concept running through all the tracks, but it’s presented in a whimsical comic book-like story about our two adventurers (Kaptain Kopter and Commander Cassidy, the two principals in Spirit) visiting a world inhabited by giant potato people. This album was intended to be the follow-up to Randy California’s Kapt Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds, but when the band presented it to Epic, they refused to release it, and eventually cancelled Spirit’s contract over it, leaving the band without a label. Before that all happened, in early 1973, while Spirit was touring the UK, they made an appearance on Bob Harris’ BBC radio show, at which time the entire first side of the yet-to-be-released Potato Land album was played. Many listeners taped that show in anticipation of the album’s release, but after months went by with no release, Harris (who still had the acetate) played the entire second side of the album. Now the entire album was out there, albeit circulating as a bootleg tape among fans. Two years went by, then Spirit finally resurfaced on Mercury records with a new double album Spirit of 76. It seemed like Potato Land would never be released, although calls for its release continued from fans throughout the world.

Spirit - The Adventures of Kapt. Kopter and Commander Cassidy in Potatoland coverFinally, in 1981, Potatoland was released – but it wasn’t the same version that had been premiered eight years earlier; instead it featured four newly recorded tracks on the first side of the LP, and the second side featured material from the first side of the original version, but heavily remixed with many new parts and overdubs added. Finally, in 2006, the original 1973 version premiered on the BBC was released with a half dozen bonus tracks (mostly live material taken from a 1972 Kapt Kopter show) and a short interview clip with California and Cassidy extracted from that Bob Harris show in April ‘73. Within the concept album, there are numerous references to Spirit’s earlier work, including a new version of their legendary ‘banned’ single “1984,” to set the Orwellian tone, and a reprise of it near the album’s end. “Natures Way” from Sardonicus also appears here in a reworked version, and in a short reprise titled “Nature’s Theme.” The core of the first side contains the five songs “Turn to the Right,” “Donut House,” “Fish Fry Road,” “Information,” and “My Friend,” which are all tied together into a suite with the story line dialog interspersed. These are all great songs that could stand strong on their own. The second side continues with a rockin’ version of “Walkin’ the Dog” that would have fit well on the Kapt Kopter... album, then continues with a series of potatoland related suites, reprises and dialog bits, ending up with the memorable song “It’s Time Now” (which would later be repurposed as the closer for the Son of Spirit album in 1975). This 2011 reissue of the “original” version includes a second disc which contains the entire 1981 Potatoland “re-make” album, with four additional bonus tracks, including “Midnight Train,” a song heretofore only available as part of a one-sided flexi-disc in Dark Star magazine around 1978. So with this two-disc version, one gets the ’73 original, the ’81 re-make, and a nice collection of bonus material all in a single package.


Filed under: Reissues, 2011 releases, 1973 recordings

Related artist(s): Spirit, Randy California

Latest news

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more

2020-01-07
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ken Watson - Assembly – Originally released independently in 1985, Watson's home-brew project has stood the test of time: until this CD came out, that vinyl release with its low-budget black and white cover would find its...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues