Exposé Online banner

Spirit — Two Sides of a Rainbow
(Floating World FLOATD6136, 1978/2012, 2CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-11-21

Two Sides of a Rainbow Cover artThe year was 1978. Spirit was operating as a trio, led by guitarist / singer Randy California, a disciple of Hendrix, and his stepfather Ed Cassidy on drums; rounding out the trio was bassist Larry "Fuzzy" Knight, who also contributed vocals. It had been five years since Spirit toured the UK, where the band was still very popular. There wasn’t a big touring budget, but a short tour – three dates in England and one in Germany, was arranged with the idea of recouping the costs by releasing a live album recorded at the Rainbow Theatre date on March 11. Spirit was the headliner, with Alternative TV second-billed, and opening the show were The Police. A sold out show, a receptive audience, but unfortunately the recording didn’t go so well, with the main guitar channel completely missing, only the phaser and echoplex channel came through. That meant that all the guitar parts had to be re-recorded before the live album could be released – and so they were, with many overdubs. In the end three versions of the live album were released, each with a slightly different track listing: Live, the UK version, included two cuts “Downer” and “Wild Thing” from numerous encores; Live Spirit, the US version, instead had two studio cuts “Rock and Roll Planet” and “These Are Words” with canned applause appended to make them sound live (neither was actually played at the show); the German version Made in Germany had the same cuts as the US version (although presented in a different running order), with the addition of the five-minute “Rockpalast Jam” recorded in Essen for the Rockpalast TV show. (Incidentally, that entire show was eventually released on CD as Rockpalast: West Coast Legends Vol. 3 in 2010). In England, a single was released of the live version of “Nature's Way,” with the non-LP “Stone Free” on its b-side. To date, only Made in Germany was ever released on CD, and it went out of print before most folks could find a copy.

So what does all that have to do with this? Some three decades later, cassette tapes of the board mix for the complete rainbow show turned up, with all the of the guitar parts intact, exactly what the audience heard that night, including many cuts that were never released (“Mr. Skin,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Love Charged,” and “Turn to the Right” among them). The downside is that these tapes were in bad shape and needed extensive clean-up before they could be considered suitable for release; even as presented there is still audible tape hiss and compression. So what we have on Two Sides of a Rainbow is the complete show (all of disc one) with encores (first 35 minutes of disc two), taken from those board tapes, followed by a remastered version of Live Spirit – the US release. Which takes both discs up to around 79 minutes; it would have been nice to have the two additional tracks from the UK release, and the single b-side, but there just wasn’t any room remaining on the two discs. What this set boldly illustrates more than anything is the extensive amount of rework that was done on the original live tapes to create the 1978 live albums.

Filed under: Archives, 2012 releases, 1978 recordings

Related artist(s): Spirit, Randy California

Latest news

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Steve Howe - The Haunted Melody – The Yes/Asia guitarist realizes a lifelong ambition by creating the perfect jazz setting with son, Dylan Howe on drums and Ross Stanley on Hammond B3. The arrangements across the stellar recording...  (2009) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues