Album Review : Spirit-Spirit (1968, 2005 Mono LP)

The band Spirit were a band that should have been bigger. They influenced Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin (no matter what they say) and probably numerous others. They got a bit of success on FM radio back in the day, but never really struck it big. They broke up and were destined to go into history all but forgotten. That is until 2016. The family of the late Randy California attempted to sue Led Zeppelin for the song Stairway To Heaven. The family alleged Jimmy Page used the song composition from the song Taurus when he composed Stairway. Jimmy stated that although he owned a copy of the album Spirit, he never played it. I say bullshit Jimmy. I’ve listened to this album. There is no way you sit it on a shelf and never play it. I get Led Zeppelin’s stance though. They copied and pasted from so many musicians they would be broke paying everyone off. I think if this case had occurred in the early 70’s, Spirit would have won. Close to 50 years later though and Led Zep can hire the best lawyers and experts to trick a jury. Just like AC/DC says, money talks.

Fresh-Garbage – The first thing we hear on this song is the jazz background drummer Ed Cassidy(who also happened to be Randy California’s step father) exudes. His drumming is swaying, flowing, and picture perfect. The next is the amazing guitar work. Randy California was only 17 years old when this album was recorded. I can tell you he was better at 17 than 99% of the guitarists on the planet. The vocals are pretty awesome too. No wonder Pink Floyd sampled the song on Feel Good Time. This song is as far away from fresh garbage as a song can get. As a side note, Led Zeppelin played this song live in the early days. They were so good they could play a song by another band without listening to it.

Uncle Jack – This one has a very British feel to it. Sort of a early Floyd meets early The Who, and even though this may ruffle a few feathers, the guitar work may be even better.

Mechanical World – Horns, ticking cymbals dominate the start of this one. An almost cooler version of a circus song. Then Randy California wails and we submit.

Taurus – Jimmy Page snuck into Randy’s house and composed this one without any help from anyone. Ok.

Girl In Your Eye – The sitar playing dominates this one. It is really a period piece that suits the late 60’s, but yet somehow doesn’t sound dated. The song transitions into more amazing guitar work. Have I said that before?

Straight Arrow – More British flavoured pop goodness here. The coolest part of the song is the throat clearing and the gasping for air by the lead singer Jay Ferguson. It sounds like they recorded it first take with no dubs.

Topanga Windows – I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but the guitar work is ace. The subtle guitar work to start the song off is great, then the blues takes over. Almost a Bo Diddley meets early Steve Miller. Really good. The keyboard work by John Locke is really cool here too.

Gramophone Man – The start is very early Floyd like. I can almost hear Syd Barrett. Then the song morphs into a little jazz ditty. Then it morphs back again. Very cool indeed.

Water Woman – This is the only song on the album with writing credits by all of the band members. The bass work of Mark Andes is really cool and the sitar work is welcomed back. This song reminds me of a song The Guess Who would do.

The Great Canyon Fire In General – A cool mix of rock and jazz. Piano, guitar, amazing drumming and wonderful vocals dominate this one. The vocal harmony on the fade out of the song is great too.

Elijah – What would you get if Gene Krupa and Rick Wright had decided to do an instrumental jam with The Allman Brothers Band? This song right here.

Cd reissues of this album have bonus tracks. There was a SACD version released in 2017 I may also look into. It is so good it’s worth buying twice.

This is my first Spirit album. It will definitely not be my last.

9.9/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Album Review : Monster Magnet – Powertrip (1998)

This is part of a one-hit wonder group post hosted by Danica at Living A Beautiful Life. Thanks Danica.

One-Hit Wonder. These words remind many people of artists such as Rick Astley and Chumbawumba. Crappy songs that earworm their way into our brains decades later. However, sometimes a band that technically is a one-hit wonder deserves to have a ton of hits. They put out awesome songs and albums, but don’t quite meet the expectations of the general public. Monster Magnet is one of those bands. They play an awesome fusion of stoner, psychedelic and garage rock. The band toiled about from the late 80’s until 1998 or so. They got airplay on mostly college radio but got little to no attention from rock radio or MTV.

That all changed for the band in the summer of 1998. The song Space Lord shot the band to the top 3 position on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and helped the album Power Trip to reach #1 on the Heatseekers Album Chart. 1998 was a bad time for rock with a legion of  Nu Metal wannabes flooding the charts. It was nice to see a band that didn’t fit into the cookie cutter mold hit the charts.

Crop Circle – Haunting sounds that would fit nicely into a Rob Zombie flick start this one off. Then guitar and pounding drums and a wailing “COME ON” shift this one into top gear. It has an almost Clutch meets Rob Zombie (speaking of other musicians that toiled around for years playing heavy music before their success) feel to it that I like.

Powertrip – The fast, quiet guitar work that begin this one off (and repeats later in the song) is cool, then the pounding hits you like a sledgehammer. “I’m never gonna work another day in my life. The gods told me to relax They said I’m gonna be fixed up right
I’m never gonna work another day in my life I’m way too busy power tripping
But I’m gonna shed you some light.” Words to live by for a musician.

Space Lord – Here is the hit single. The entire reason I joined this group post. A really catchy tune with nice acoustic guitar work and hard edged pounding drums, booming bass, ripping heavier guitars and great vocals. It deserved every accolade it got. The lyrics were changed to a more radio friendly Space Lord Mother (Mother), and the originals are only available on limited single releases and the greatest hits album.

Temple Of Your Dreams – A fuzzy, groovy rocker that has an almost Lenny Kravitz swagger.

Bummer – Another Clutch-like rocker that begins off with the lyrics “You’re looking for the one that f*cked your mom. It’s not me…”. and “Some people go to bed with Lucifer
Then they cry, cry, cry when they don’t greet the day with God..”  The song is about how some people blame everyone else for their problems. It sounds like it would suit 2018 just perfectly.

Baby Götterdämerung – The title may refer to the music drama by composer Wagner. Wagner is referring back to Norse Mythology about a mighty war that almost destroys the world, and after it is submerged in water, it can begin again. I guess the band considers this song to be a baby version of that. To me, this song is about how in 1998 we are bombarded with death and violence. This song mentions reading, teaches us about history and gets us to think. They may play stoner rock, but they haven’t killed all of their brain cells.

19 Witches – Ok. Confession time. I have a thing for witches. Any song with witches in the title puts it at the top of the list. The 60’s era, James Bond music meets Troggs in this song is a nice throwback touch. A few minutes in we also get a world music beat. This song has a cool vibe to it, and would suit perfectly in a Tarentino movie. Such an under-rated song. It didn’t even make it onto the greatest hits album, which means the band(or the label) didn’t even think it was one of their best. That’s a crying shame.

3rd Eye Landslide – A fun romp about free rides and landslides with amazing guitar licks. Sometimes simple can be fun.

See You In Hell – A song with a heavy meaning,  mostly geared toward a hippy that killed his baby. The keyboard work again harkens us back to the 60’s but also has a 90’s alternative feel to it. It has elements of Sloan, The Animals, Clutch, and some great Joe Walsh-like guitar.

Tractor – A slightly repetitive song that still rocks. The theme of the song is drugs, hallucination and paranoia. Sometimes stoner rock is about getting stoned.

Atomic Clock – This one has sort of a Fu Manchu meets Clutch feel to it. “So won’t you put my dick in plastic And put my brain in a jar If there’s something left of my spirit It’ll find you where you are Still so goddamn hungry I’m feeding off my own bones So lay me out in my crater And nuke me ’til I glow” That sounds like quite the last will and testament.

Goliath And The Vampires – That sounds like an epic battle. It also sounds like an awesome Sabbathy chugger mixed with the beginning of Thriller.

Your Lies Become You – It has sort of a Robbie Robertson meets 60’s pop meets Santana feel to it. A cool way to close this album off.

9.5/10

 

Concert Review: Corrosion of Conformity, Eyehategod, Pale Mare, Ol’ Time Moonshine – Opera House, Toronto Tuesday January 9, 2018

2018-01-09 22.27.40

I found out on Monday night that the show I had been wanting to attend for months was postponed. Zakk Wylde fell ill, and the headliner show that Black Label Society was supposed to put on the next night would get postponed to the summer. A lot of scrambling was done, and here is a shoutout to the promoter, Inertia Entertainment for getting this show arranged on super short notice. The original venue (where I proposed to my wife years earlier) was too large, and so the iconic Opera House was booked. The new concert was headlined by COC and could almost be considered a co-headline with Eyehategod. In under 2 days, the new venue was arranged. Tickets were only available at the door, and it looked pretty well sold out to me. The bands acknowledged this fact during their sets, and thanked us numerous times. I was a little bummed in missing Zakk and the boys, but I’ll see them eventually.

I have to first apologize to Ol’ Time Moonshine. I have wanted to see these local Toronto dudes play, but I’m always busy when they are playing, or in this case, late getting to the venue. That happens when you hit Toronto traffic and it takes 1.5-2 hours to get to the east end. Sorry dudes. Next time. I’m sure you slayed it though. I already own their newest cd, and I bought their older one at the show. These guys are cool, and have the Southern rock meets bluesy stoner doom thing down pat. Check out their Bandcamp page below.

https://oltimemoonshine.bandcamp.com/

The lads from Toronto that go by the handle of Pale Mare came on next. These dudes are pretty kick ass. The band broke in a new drummer for the show but you wouldn’t have known it. The 3 piece did a great job of warming up the crowd. I saw a lot of headbanging  and throwing of devil horns. I liked them, and even bought their new cassette(Yes, thankfully they still make those). I thought they have a little Motorhead in them (which is fitting this week), mixed with some heavy doom and a punk attitude. Check out their Bandcamp page below.

https://palemareband.bandcamp.com/merch

Eyehategod came on next. Brian Patton was not there as he was home helping out with his new baby. The band was great even without him though. They slayed their entire set. While warming up, Jimmy Bower came out on stage. the crowd was pumped, but none more than one guy yelling “Jimmy, Jimmy..” Jimmy told him to stop and when the dude wouldn’t he chucked something at him. I can only assume his goose egg will makea good story. Then there’s lead singer Mike IX Williams. He reminds me of Hugh Dillon. If you stand down front at a Headstones concert, Hugh would probably spit on you. If you are up front at a Eyehategod show, Mike will blow snot in your general direction(as was reported at the Detroit show, and I witnessed here). Either way, I stood one row back, left of stage and I came out clean. It’s good to see Mike back after stints in jail and almost dying from liver failure on stage earlier. He may have a new liver but still has the same old snarl. These boys know how to rock. They have the right mix of sludge and hardcore punk, along with just enough N’Orleans southern charm. The crowd was into it. Even the dude that did a face plant off the front barrier and landed a few feet away from me(Note to self: If crowd surfing, make sure there are enough willing people to hold you up). He got right back up, shook off his concussion symptoms, and got right back in the pit. Dude’s hardcore and so is the band.

2018-01-09 21.24.40

 

The night was closed off by Corrosion of Conformity. They played a few songs off the new album (I saw the band 3 days before the album release, and sadly it was not at the merch table), but mostly the favourites. The crowd was into it too. I moved back a bit and was not up front for this set as I am just getting too old for the slam dancing. Good news is Pepper Keenan is back in the band. You probably knew that if you are a fan, but all I can say is this dude is Awesome with a capital A. The only thing I could have wished for would have been an impromptu Down mini-set. Pepper could have gotten Jimmy up on stage and done a Down song or 2. Oh well.

 

 

A great night. Great sound. The bands involved more than made up for the lack of Black Label Society, and I didn’t get snotted on or crushed by falling dudes, so there’s that.

2018-01-09 22.26.55

 

9/10

 

 

 

Chris Tsangrides Top 10

Sadly Chris died yesterday from pneumonia. I just read that he had also been placed in a medically induced coma 3 years ago to combat Legionnaire’s disease. I’m not sure if that contributed to his death. He was a great producer, and behind the scenes guy on a ton of records for over 40 years. RIP Chris.

I know I posted it as a top 10, but I want to add this one in. So top 11.

11 – Tygers Of Pan Tang : Spellbound – Chris produced and engineered this early NWOBHM classic. The band never got the recognition they rightfully deserved. Chris really improved on the production, and cleaned up the sound of the vocals. He did a great job.

10 – Judas Priest : Sad Wings Of Destiny – While many would consider his work on Painkiller to be the pinnacle of his work with JP, Sad Wings Of Destiny was an amazing album, and this is my favourite song by the band.

9 – Black Sabbath : Sabotage – He was “just” a tape operator on this album, but Tony liked him so much, years later he had Chris come back and be the final producer on The Eternal Idol album.

8 Bruce Dickinson : Tatooed Millionaire – This was a great first solo effort by a metal god that wanted to go in a more hard rock direction. Chris delivered.

7 Concrete Blonde : Bloodletting – A shift away from his usual heavier albums. This one had a massive hit with the song Joey.

6 Thin Lizzy : Thunder And Lightning – While many people were first introduced to Thin Lizzy with the song Jailbreak, I first heard them in 1983 when the song Cold Sweat was in heavy rock radio rotation.

5 Y & T : Mean Streak – While not featuring the radio hits that the band released a few years later, this album had great production from you know who.

4 King Diamond : Conspiracy – This album was a continuation of the concept album entitled Them. Chris wanted to keep what was great with the band, but he changed the style as well. He put the guitars in front and turned them up, and lowered King Diamond’s mic volume a bit and removed some of the effects. Chris knew what he was doing.

3 Gary Moore : Back On The Streets – Gary Moore. Phil Lynott. Brian Downey. Chris Tsangrides. ‘Nuff said.

2 The Tragically Hip : Fully Completely – Probably the most popular Hip album, and many would say it was the high point of the band. It is near the top on my Hip album pile, and I love how Chris was both able to let the band be their creative self, but also keep them grounded and do what they do. Amazing album. If you don’t own a copy, run (literally) to the store and buy one. You won’t regret it.

1 Anvil : Metal On Metal – Chris produced and engineered this album. I remember cranking this sucker the first time I heard it on the radio back in the day. It became a rock radio staple for a long time, and the band rode the 80’s wave of metal.