Tag Archives: Jimmy Page

The Spirit of Music

So we’ve done a lot of forward thinking recently, and now it’s time to wind the clock hands back, to a simpler time. To a time when, I’ll admit, I was not alive, but it makes me nostalgic nonetheless.

Spirit, the band, from left to right: Cassidy, Ferguson, Andes, Locke and California, off the cover of 1973's "The Best of Spirit"

I’m talking about the 60’s, in particular the late 60’s. In 1967, a legend was born. In the foothills that are Los Angeles, five men came together to create one of the first jazz-fusion bands ever. Their names were Randy California, Jay Ferguson, Ed Cassidy (“Mr. Skin”), John Locke and Mark Andes.

Together, they formed Spirit, a name that hardly anyone from my generation recognizes. And even for people who were alive in that era, they remain in obscurity. But they exploded onto the scene in 1968 with the release of the self-titled first album. The single off that album, “Mechanical World”, stayed at #31 in the charts for eight weeks. Check it out:

Mechanical World (1968)

In 1968, a little-known band named Led Zeppelin was touring with Spirit as their opening band, and continued to hold enormous respect for them as they themselves became more famous. Listen to “Taurus”, which was released off the 1968 album to hear what Jimmy Page’s influence was for “Stairway to Heaven” two years later.

Taurus

And Spirit was busy – they released another album, The Family That Plays Together, later that same year – which was very successful overall, featuring the song “I Got a Line On You”.

But by the mid 70s Spirit was beginning to have problems. Ferguson and Andes left the group in 1971, and subsequently Randy California split off to do some solo work. California moved to Hawaii, where he had a religious awakening of sorts – and by the time the band got back together to release the album Spirit of ’76 in, well, 1976, their sound had changed dramatically.

Cover for "Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus"

But in that in-between period, Spirit released Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, an album that is still hailed as a landmark album in the annals of rock and roll. Nearly half of the cuts off their “Best of” album come from this record. This album covers such a wide expanse of musical styles and thematic ideas, and distills them to their purest forms. Here are some tracks off of that album:

Morning Will Come

Street Worm

One thing that sets Spirit apart from other bands from the late 60’s was their early use of green themes, as seen in their songs “Fresh Garbage” and “Nature’s Way”.

Nature’s Way

The band also released the album Clear that year, which was a decent album, but had one that song rose far and above the rest (and is one of my favorites):

Dark Eyed Woman (1970)

But after their initial split, Spirit was never quite the same  – even though they had reunited. The members played together on and off until 1990 when California passed away. But it’s never too late to honor these unsung legends by listening to their music – a prime example of world class rock.

[Feel free to drop me a comment if you dig Spirit as much as I do! Thanks, ~Josh]

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PEAK KEYWORD: SPIRIT

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Attack of the Supergroups!

While actress Milla Jovovich may be trying to draw in your attention with talk of extraterrestrial owls and an imminent fear of the fourth kind, there’s a phenomenon that has been slowly gaining momentum in the music world….

Bands and musicians have been switching members and pairing up like Xenon Octa-Flouride (XeF8) would, if it ever is going to be invented (thanks Wikipedia!). In layman’s terms, we’ve been getting a lot of new supergroups, side projects, and collaborations – some that could have been foreseen, and others that seem to have appeared out of nowhere.

The Almanac Singers... singing

The Almanac Singers seen here with Bess Hawes, Arthur Stern and Sis Cunningham

Now, the idea of a supergroup is not a recent innovation by any stretch of the imagination – the supergroup goes all the way back to the Almanac Singers – a combination of Millard Lampell, Lee Hayes, Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie that got its start in 1940. From the 60’s until today, we have been given plenty more supergroups, such as in 1969 which brought us both The Plastic Ono Band (which included the likes of Eric Clapton, both George Harrison and Ringo Starr, Keith Moon and Alan White – just to name a few) as well as Blind Faith (which also featured Mr. Clapton, but had Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Ric Grech to boot). 1988 brought us the Traveling Wilburys, which was the tour de force of George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. And although they Wilburys only stuck together for about a year after Orbison’s death, that cosmic aligning is something that has not met it’s match… yet.

monsters-of-folk

The Monsters of Folk

Among the recent crop of supergroups is a group I mentioned last week – The Monsters of Folk, which consists of folk songsters Connor Oberst and  Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes, M. Ward of She & Him, and Jim James from My Morning Jacket. They’ve been associated under the Monsters name since 2004, but have all been so busy with their respective main attractions that they weren’t able to release their self-titled first album until this year. You’ve definitely heard their track “Say Please” on the Peak – and both M. Ward and Connor Oberst gave free concerts in NYC this summer!

Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar

Moving down the line from most folky to least, next up is the recent pairing of Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard with Jay Farrar, member of Uncle Tupelo and frontman for Son Volt, the two bands that he played with throughout the 90’s before he launched his solo career in 2001. Gibbard and Farrar first got together in 2007 to record the soundtrack for One Fast Move and I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur. Both the movie and the album came out on October 20th, the day before the 40th anniversary of the prolific author’s death. You can see the music video for “San Fransisco”, the last track on the album, here. And you can expect to see more from them in the future.

Taking a detour into the realm of electronica, at the end of September, Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, slipped this little surprise into his blog:

hi
in the past couple of weeks i’ve been getting a band together for fun to play the eraser stuff live and the new songs etc.. to see if it could work!
here’s a photo.. its me, joey waronker, mauro refosco, flea and nigel godrich.
at the beginning of october the 4th and 5th we are going to do a couple of shows at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles.
we don’t really have a name and the set will not be very long cuz ..well …we haven’t got that much material yet!
Thom Yorke and Flea at the Oprheum show on Oct. 5

Thom Yorke and Flea

Of course, those shows were sold out in 20 minutes. Flea, as you know, is the Red Hot Chili Peppers Bassist – and he seemed to be ecstatic to be on stage with Yorke, playing cuts from Yorke’s solo album The Eraser (2006). There hasn’t been a follow-up to the October concerts, but that’s something you should keep an eye out for as well.

Jack White and Alison Mosshart sharing the mike at Glastonbury this year

Next up come two really driving groups. First is The Dead Weather, whose song “Hang You Up From the Heavens” I featured in my first week of blog-writing. The Dead Weather was formed by Jack White who’s been extremely active – leaping from the White Stripes, to the Raconteurs, to the recent release of “It Might Get Loud” – a documentary featuring White, The Edge, and Jimmy Page. The band also features Alison Mosshart of the Kills on lead vocals, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and Jack Lawrence, who played with White in the Raconteurs. And to sweeten the deal, they just announced a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on November 17th! Tickets for that are going on Sale this friday, so get ’em quick.

them-crooked-vultures

The "Them Crooked Vultures" teaser photo from earlier this fall

And finally, we come to Them Crooked Vultures, or TCV as they call themselves. TCV is big news. On drums is Dave Grohl, from Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. On vocals and guitar is Josh Homme, from the Queens of the Stone Age. The kicker is that John Paul Jones comes soaring in on bass. They’ve got a really great sound, full and rocking, but what remains to be seen is whether TCV will be able to stay afloat once their star power has worn off. Their self-titled first record is due out on Sony in a week, which should be an insta-grab for all hard rock fans. But for now, check out the full album on the band’s website!

So, I apologize about all the name dropping – it’s not something I routinely do. If you think a supergroup has been left out, please let me know. Or if you feel the need to justify the Tinted Windows‘ existence, by all means, please try. But if you do, I’ll kindly remind you that their lead singer is from Hanson, and we’ll go our separate ways. Wikipedia to the rescue once again!

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Peak Keyword: MMBOP

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