After an extended period spent noodling around with effects boxes, non-instruments and tape manipulations, Crawlspace leader (and sole constant member) Eddie Flowers reverted to his rock & roll roots for 2006's The Spirit of '76. Although Crawlspace has primarily been a vehicle for free improv and noise explorations, Flowers got his start in punk, as a member of Bloomington, IN's D.I.Y. pioneers the Gizmos. (Gizmos leader Ken Highland painted the cover art for The Spirit of '76 when he and Flowers were in high school together in the early '70s.) There are only three Crawlspace originals on the album, the opening instrumental grind "Theme for a Wet T-Shirt Contest," "Never Never," and the current events-inspired "Take Your War on Vacation." The rest of the album consists of various old punk, metal, and psych-era songs given the chaotic, free-form Crawlspace treatment. So, for example, "Hey Joe (Version Version)" mashes Patti Smith's rant-poetry riffs to the mellow folk-rock of Love's take on the oft-covered tune, and a warped version of Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'" features a squealing synthesizer solo that Flowers' notes claim was played by a friend of the band who had never touched a synth before. Flowers' trademark oddball sense of humor is in full evidence -- gotta love a rocked-up version of Allan Sherman's corny parody tune "Rat Fink" -- and the breadth of the cover songs, from Eddie Holland's "Leavin' Here" to an endless, spaced-out jam on "Sympathy for the Devil" to obscurities by an old band of Highland's, O. Rex, and scabrous '80s garage rockers the Cunts, is far greater than one normally sees on this kind of project. Easily the most immediately accessible Crawlspace record ever, The Spirit of '76 is noisy, lo-fi, aggressive, and, crucially, hugely fun.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason