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

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Trio Fattoruso - Trio Fattoruso – It makes perfect sense that Uruguay would not be just another blip on the radar of finesse jazz and rock players. Brothers Jorge and Hugo Fattoruso have been playing various Latin and jazz styles for...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues