Live from the Time Coast

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After three albums devoted to previously unreleased studio recordings (Cosmic Smile, Sea Dream, and Blues From the Soul), tape archivist Mick Skidmore has assembled a collection of concert recordings for his fourth posthumous Spirit release, Live From the Time Coast. As he points out in his liner notes, Spirit, while always having at its core singer/guitarist Randy California and drummer Ed Cassidy (that is, from its 1974 re-formation until California's death in early 1997) employed various bass players and sometimes keyboard players for its decades of club work, resulting in different styles of play. For this album, Skidmore has focused on what he calls "the Tent of Miracles band," referring to Spirit's 1990 studio album, made by California, Cassidy, and bassist Mike Nile, though he draws on recordings made between 1989 and 1996, and includes performances sometimes also featuring keyboardists Scott Monahan or George Valuck. "Spirit was apt to play two sets a night during much of the '90s," Skidmore writes. "What I've done here is present the two discs as close to possible as what a set might have been like with a few liberalizations." What a set was like, it seems, was a selection of material including songs from Spirit's initial spate of albums when it was a quintet between 1968 and 1970, among them the Top 40 hit "I Got a Line on You" and favorites like "Fresh Garbage" and "Animal Zoo." There is also a sampling of songs from the 1970s that appeared on albums like Spirit of '76 and Son of Spirit, and then-recent songs from 1989's Rapture in the Chambers and Tent of Miracles. And there are a handful of previously unheard songs that constitute the "liberalizations" Skidmore mentions, the best of which is the seven minute "Golden Jam," which boasts some of California's best soloing on the disc. With the last seven years of Spirit's touring career thus summarized, Skidmore promises plenty more in an ongoing series from a band that was sadly under-represented in record bins during its existence.

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