Spirit

Rockpalast: West Coast Legends, Vol. 3

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The late-'70s three-piece may not be the best-remembered, or the most beloved lineup Spirit ever boasted. But in an era when truly blistering power trios were very few and far between, this is the unit that reminded us just how immense Spirit could be. Recorded in 1978 for the maiden series of German TV's Rockpalast concert series, the show finds Spirit on the road with the Future Games album, but driving through the catalog regardless. The opening "Rockpalast Jam" gets the audience into the swing from the outset; "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower" receive fabulous airings, and then there's "1984," a duet for synth and bass that might not be a virtuoso performance, but lacks nothing for mood and menace. Oh, and "Wild Thing" could well be the dirtiest version of the beast ever unleashed. In fact, the only downside, if such a thing could exist on a disc this brilliant, is that so much of the playing time is taken up by just two songs, a medley of "If I Miss This Train" and a reprise of the "Rockpalast Jam," with Dickey Betts stepping out alongside the band. It's an amazing experience, don't get that wrong. But how much better to have had another few Spirit favorites instead?

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