Infectious blues stadium rock live in Germany.
Spirit are a band I am quite unfamiliar with but this album happened on my doorstep and I
was quite delighted to listen to a bunch of extreme blues live tracks from the 70s era.
Randy California is terrific on blues guitar, he really rips into these solos with incredible
finesse. The bassist Larry "Fuzzy" Knight certainly keeps the rhythm going on bass. The trio
sound a bit like Cream meets The Doors with lashings of Hendrix licks and vocal style with
a slab of 12 bar blues thrown into the mix.
It begins with an ultra cool jam session with hypnotic riffing and repetitive blues jamming
and huge lead breaks. There are cover versions such as a badly sung Like A Rolling Stone
but it survives thanks to a nice folky rhythmic feel and those heavy handed infamous lyrics.
1984 is a cool song and Randy says "this is where we got into trouble" on the last verse.
You will have to listen to the verse to understand why.
It's All The Same is 16:43 worth of long guitar solos and a massive drum solo by Ed
Cassidy. During the solo you can actually hear the crowd saying weird stuff like "come on"
and almost heckling, but the drums are great. The vocals on this too are well executed; the
feel is like the blues riffing of Cream or more recently Atlantic Rhythm Section, real
infectious stadium rock.
I Got A Line On You is a short burst of blues rock. It is a genuine rocker with great fuzzy
guitars and riffing. The strong vocals and very bluesy feel are outstanding. Randy asks
everyone to clap their hands calling out countries, "you up there, Sweden, Austria, Finland,
Yugoslavian!" The song is a bonafide highlight and I love that one note sustained droning
synthesizer by Randy that resounds over the rocking rhythms.
The cover of Hendrix classic All Along The Watchtower is fabulous. The Hendrix influence at
the time abounds with this guitar driven blues rocker. The synth drone continues again,
sounding like a diesel train rolling down the rail. Randy sounds a bit like Hendrix on the
vocals. He says, "listen to the riders on their horses approaching" in one section as the
guitar gallops along. The synth gets louder and more pronounced and then a blazing lead
guitar solo blasts out. A great cover version by any standards.
Wild Thing is next on the list, the classic riffing 60s Troggs song has been done to death so
I was hoping for something really unique. Randy sings "come here and feel my spirit"
instead of the traditional lyrics which is a nice touch. Apart from that, this is a live standard
like Hendrix's version.
Downer (Tampa Jam) is next and a really cool riff drives this along, and more synth drone,
which I am over now to be honest. It is overkill hearing a synth droning on all the time.
Some backing vocals on this work well too "Too long, too long, too long", but unsure who is
singing these as the booklet does not make it clear. A great lead solo again permeates the
If I Miss This Train/ Rockpalast Jam clocks in at an adrenalin pumping 17:15. Dickey Betts
from Great Southern band joins Spirit on guitar on this last jam. It sounds like the rhythm
to 'Love Me Two Times' by The Doors at one stage and that blues riff is paramount to the
tune. It provides the background especially the bassline and metrical drumming patterns. It
feels like a lonely train ride in the feel of the piece, very appropriate to the lyrics. The real
star of this is Randy on soaring guitars. The freight train synth sounds are very effective
again. Two guitars trading off work remarkably well finishing the concert in memorable
This segues immediately into the Rockpalast Jam which is a riff with lots of driving guitar
solos improvised to expertise. 12 bar blues and guitar solos are the order of the day and
certainly Spirit know how to whip out a jam session. Dicky is as good as ever working with
Randy. There's a nice section where the guitar is allowed to groove alone. The textures of
tension and release are fabulous. That bass is relentless and worth listening to for bass
players as a great example of how to keep a jam cruising along.
The huge jamming songs close the show to rapturous applause. The guitars are
incredible and work well together in lengthy jams that lock in and it's almost impossible
from not wanting to groove along with them in foot tapping style. Randy thanks everyone for
the show, and states the band are heading off to England next.
Many songs missing from the set to fit onto the CD are available on the DVD. The
Rockpalast series has 2 other volumes prior to this release of course namely vol 1 John
Cipollina, and vol 2 with Jorma Kaukonen. The booklet is in German and English, and
provides a stack of information about what Spirit were doing in the 70s and it pays tribute to
the late randy California respectfully. I really liked the blues riffing on this, not as
progressive I guess as some of Spirit's studio material, but nevertheless a pleasant listen
with some inspired guitar work. 3 solid stars for the musicianship and lengthy jams.