The Video History 2 [VHS]

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The Video History 2 by Spirit is simply an expanded version of the band's earlier tape The Video History. Now running just under two hours, the collection is not so much a history as it is a scrapbook of performances, interviews, and promotional material spanning Spirit's existence from the late 1960s to the mid-'90s. Informally assembled by the band itself and available through CDbaby, The Video History 2 contains no credits whatsoever, and one presumes that permissions were not sought for the footage, which includes TV news features and an appearance on the British series The Old Grey Whistle Test. There is no commentary to provide continuity or give the uninitiated a sense of the group's story, just one clip after another, some of them prefaced by a title indicating a date and location. We begin with what appears to be a public service announcement video for recycling tied into Spirit's 1991 re-recording of "Nature's Way," followed by a music video of "Hey Joe" shot at the concert that produced the Live at La Paloma album. Then it's back to 1978 for a performance on Germany's Rockpalast show, followed by Spirit singer/guitarist Randy California doing "All Along the Watchtower" with the "Night of the Guitar" troupe (including the Doors' Robbie Krieger and Steve Howe of Yes) at the Hammersmith Odeon in London in 1989. Next up are several clips (there are four in all) drawn from the reunion of the original Spirit lineup in the early '80s that produced the Spirit of '84 (aka The Thirteenth Dream) album. The last hour is dominated by live performances in clubs and open-air venues of various later editions of Spirit, with California and drummer Ed Cassidy joined by various bass players and/or keyboard players. This is a collection for fans who won't mind the dubious production values and home-movie quality of some of the footage. It is not intended for casual fans or those who want to learn the history of Spirit. But any rock fan watching it is likely to be impressed by California's accomplished guitar playing, the song selection emphasizing his debt to mentor Jimi Hendrix.

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