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Spirit - I Got a Line on You (1995) Retail CD
Spirit always struck me as a second tier band, but that really isn't a fair characterization. I've been trying for some time now to obtain a reasonably priced copy of their swan song 'Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus', rumored to be their best effort, but there are relatively few used copies around and apparently plenty of people looking for a chance to score one of them. To give the band a little preview, I opted for this bargain bin compilation, and pretty much got what I expected: a satisfying experience with the four better known tracks, and a more dismal outing with the remaining six tracksmore…, although nothing here is objectionable, and some songs hold promise for 'growing on me'.
The tracks on 'I Got a Line On You' are drawn from four albums released by Spirit between 1968 and 1971. They are haphazardly mixed here, opening with the band's only Top 40 charting song, the title track, which reached number 25 in March of 1969. The song possesses a great lead guitar riff from Randy California (aka Randy Wolfe), with sharp vocals blended in. The song segues seamlessly into 'It Shall Be'. This second track possesses a sweet pulsing bass line with a cosmic flute hovering above. This intro also serves as the bridge between verses, which are somewhat less appealing. In fact, many of Spirit's songs, including the three that follow 'It Shall Be', as well as 'Uncle Jack' and 'Prelude: Nothin' To Hide' ("We got nothin' to hide, we're married to the same bride...") are somewhat challenged lyrically.
The first two tracks are drawn from Spirt's second release, 1969's 'The Family That Plays Together', while tracks three and four are found on the band's third effort, 1969's 'Clear'. 'I'm Truckin' possesses a funky faux Cream sound, while 'So Little Time To Fly' is a strutting, mid-tempo number with a very decent lead guitar. While Spirit may at times be lacking lyrically, most every song features great lead guitar playing from California. 'Aren't We Glad' is the next track, reverting back to 'The Family...' album. This loping psychedelic blues tune is the only extended track in the bunch, running five-and-a-half minutes, nearly two minutes longer than the next longest song. The song features some fine feedback-laden lead guitar work.
With the exception of 'I Got a Line On You', the first five tunes represent unbeknownst material to me. The remaining five tracks on the disc offer three of the 'knownst' numbers, beginning with track number six, '1984', which was released as a single, and is drawn from 1971's 'Twelve Dreams...' album. Although we would have to agree that the song is literally dated, verses such as "Just where will you be when your freedom is dead?" certainly possess timeless meaning. A second tune from 'Twelve Dreams...' follows, the familiar 'Nature's Way'. The acoustic guitar, kettledrum, cowbells, and vocals blend together to form a grand symphonic sound, supporting wonderous vocal lines such as "It's nature's way of receiving you, it's nature's way of retrieving you...", proving California is not always lyrically challenged.
Two songs are then offered from the band's 1968 self-titled debut album, 'Uncle Jack' and 'Fresh Garbage', the latter song garnering significant airplay on underground FM radio. While 'Uncle Jack' is built upon an entertaining heavy guitar riff, the lyrics are once again a bit empty. 'Fresh Garbage', composed by keyboardist Jay Ferguson, delivers the same verse three times, yet is sonically pleasing, and the limited lyrics render it as something of a novelty song ("...the world's a can for your fresh garbage...").
Oddly enough, the closing number on this disc is the opener from the 'Twelve Dreams...' concept album, 'Prelude: Nothin' To Hide'. What starts out as a soft ballad progresses into a funky rock number, but any song titled 'Prelude' is out of place at the end of a disc. It's placement and seemingly grand notions harken to 'A Day In the Life', but the comparison is weak. I have the feeling it wouldn't be as disappointing had it been positioned at the start of the disc. I suppose that's too logical though.
'I Got a Line On You' only contains a little over thirty minutes of music, but at least you get the band's best four songs (as far as I know). While the remaining songs are better than rejects, there isn't a lot here to make me seek out more Spirit discs. And beware the packaging on this one... we're looking at song listings and two photographs of the band. The front insert does open up to reveal... nothing. At least we know the band has 'Nothin To Hide'.
|1||I Got A Line On You|
|2||It Shal Be|
|4||So Little Time To Fly|
|5||Aren't You Glad|
|10||Prelude-Nothin' To Hide|
- Spirit - I Got a Line on You (1995) Retail CD
- 984 x 994 px
- 168 KB
- 30 (0 today)
- 28/12/07 by AL B
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