February 5, 2010

Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus




This is one of the first "psychedelic" albums I ever listened to. I really loved it right from the very first time I heard it back in the mid 70's. It was released in 1970. The group as it was then broke up shortly after its release. The band has been together in some form since the early days. The groups leader, Randy California, died in 1997 while surfing and Spirit essentially ceased to exist. He died while saving his son who was surfing with him.

Randy was the main creative force behind the band with Ed Cassidy on drums. Ed's signature bald head was the impetus for the song "Mr. Skin". Also in the early band was Jay Ferguson, who went onto a solo career after a 3 year stint with the band Jo Jo Gunne. Rounding out the band were John Locke on keyboards and Mark Andes (who followed Jay to Jo Jo) on base guitar.

Randy was heavily influenced by and earlier played with Jimi Hendrix before Hendrix was Hendrix in Jimmy James and the Blue Flames in 1966. He also influenced none other than Jimmy Page early in his career as well. Ed Cassidy was nearly 20 years older than the rest of the band having earlier played with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder. Jay Ferguson's later solo career brought him a huge hit in "Thunder Island".

Twelve Dreams was a monumental recording produced by David Briggs who was recommended by Neil Young. The concept was a sci-fi, psychedelic masterpiece. Spirit fused elements of jazz, folk and rock, but also introduced a new "space rock" element. This album also introduced the newly developed Moog synthesizer.

My personal favorite song could be the anthem for the current environmental movement. The whole album has a real cool sound that your trip was enriched by listening to. Give "Natures Way" a listen yourself right here. Enjoy!




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14 comments:

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Nice! I'll check it out!

Sean Coleman said...

This is an excellent album. David Briggs was instrumental in bringing out the strengths of everyone that he worked with.

Though he did run off with Randy California's girlfriend.

For anyone that's curious, listen to "Taurus" from the first Spirit LP. You'll hear where one of the most iconic acoustic intros of all time really came from.

Excellent review!

Dan said...

You are right Sean. YThe beginning of Taurus is almost an exact replica of Stairway to Heaven, thus the inspiration to Jimmy Page. Thanks for the compliment.

Jeff - Rock and roll today said...

What a great record. Thanks for reminding me that it's been too long since the last time i gave it a spin.

The Mad Hatter said...

Oh wow, thank you, now I have a name. I've heard Nature's Way on the radio but never caught the name of the band. Now I can I eat up their records.

Anonymous said...

If you like Spirit sign the petition to get Spirit into the R & R Hall of Fame

http://www.petitiononline.com/12dreams/petition-sign.html

Dan said...

Mad: Cant wait to hear your reviews again. I've missed you.

Anon: I will check it out soon.

Jeff and All: I really appreciate your comments. It makes me feel like I have something to offer here. You are all so knowledgeable and I just hope I can offer up a bit of nostalgia and my own brand of knowledge.

Thanks

bearockr said...

I have heard this album before, and as Dan said, its really good ! When my friend had told me about Taurus, I was dying to hear the Led Zeppelin's inspiration for Stairway to Heaven, and Was quite shocked too ! I even posted about the same on my blog too quite a long time back, and I must say, Spirit is quite the Greatest Forgotten band as per me in Rock history !

Perplexio said...

I've got this and a few of Spirit's other albums, I've always preferred The Family that Plays Together, but maybe it's time I dusted off The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus to give it another listen or two.

I also quite enjoyed Randy's debut solo album.

The Mad Hatter said...

Dan,

Been suffocated lately. I'd love to write something, but I'm so tired nowadays. That said, I got the first four Spirit albums. This album is really good. Thanks again.

Bond said...

Spirit is one of those bands that people hear but never know their name (as Mad Hatter stated)...

They had a sound that was special indeed.

Nicely written Dan...

kanishk said...

he inspiration to Jimmy Page. Thanks for the compliment.
Beat Maker c

Dan said...

If anyone still reads this and wants a very well done and detailed history of the band Spirit they should check the following

Dan said...

http://twentyfourhourdejavu.blogspot.com/

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