12 DREAMS OF DR SARDONICUS: SPIRIT Tuesday 18 October, 2011

Are you yearning for Psychedelic-freak-out-spage-age-jazz-rock wonderment? Get some of this down yer lugholes then.

My earliest memories of this album are being terrified by it’s (quite wonderful) cover photography.  It’s pretty scary stuff for a three year old.  I wouldn’t have realised at the time that 15 years later I would go knocking door to door to find a little piece of paper to make everything look like that. That is another story for another time though.

Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus is the fourth album from Los Angeles wig out kings Spirit. It was originally released in 1970. Not many people in the UK seem to have heard of Spirit which is a real shame. I believe that they were a pretty big deal in the US.

It’s quite astounding to think that this album is 41 years old. It is an experimental album and as such it is a rarity in its field. Most experimental albums are a bit hit and miss. This album feels like each experiment was a success. Which is pretty stunning.  There are elements of jazz, rock, psychedelia, early synth and some spine tingling moments of beauty. There are some neat little backwards tape dubs too.

Aside from all of the crazy experimentation though what is most compelling about this album is the evident mastery.  The musicians are all on top form and the level of songwriting is exceptionally high. Randy California’s lead voice and lead guitar are really superb. All of these things come together to produce an outstanding album.

There are two songs on this album that stand out and to stand out on this album is quite something. The one minute and five seconds ‘Why can’t I be free’ and the album closer ‘Soldier’.  You’ll be hard pushed to find two more beautiful songs in most of your record collection let alone on the same album.

It might sound a little dated to some but if you can open your mind to this album you will be duly rewarded with a masterful lesson in album making. If only some of our modern bands were listening.

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