By Beppe Colli
May 19, 2017
four albums of polychromatic beauty, rich with inventive, unconventional music,
performed with great skill - I'm talking about those albums released by the
group's original line-up: Spirit and The Family That Plays Together, released
in 1968; Clear, released in 1969; Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus, released in
1970 - was not enough to catapult Spirit beyond the proverbial "cult
to reasons one can investigate, but which will not give an explanation one can
regard with any degree of certainty, Spirit were not as successful as The
Doors, but didn't enjoy the "big cult status" of Arthur Lee's Love,
group's albums, however, have rarely been "out of print", with
multiple versions of variable quality being available.
Audio Fidelity announced they will release Spirit's first four albums in SACD
format - first two albums are about to be released, with the other two to
follow - which could prove to be the definitive word when it comes to Spirit.
coincidence, Audio Fidelity's President, Marshall Blonstein, knew Spirit
personally. So I asked for an interview.
a long career in the music and entertainment industry, Marshall Blonstein was
President of Island Records, also founder and President of audiophile labels
DCC Compact Classics and Audio Fidelity.
conversation was conducted via e-mail.
the back cover of Spirit's first album, you are mentioned - alongside Terry
Clements and Doug Wallack - under "assisted by". Could you please
describe your role on the album?
I really had none
other than I accompanied them to different gigs around LA.
I'd like to
know how you became acquainted with the group.
Lou Adler asked me
to go check them out at a small club in Hollywood. They were playing 3 sets a
night making $25 each. I reported back to Lou, there was something special
about the group.
the album's back cover shows the group's individual members, the iconic image
on the front cover showcases - forgive the pun - the group's spirit. Were
Spirit really a whole?
group worked perfectly together. They were a great combination of Jazz,
Psychedelic Rock and a drummer that banged those skins. After they became
somewhat more successful the bickering started and that led to the break-up of
pictures of the group playing in such clubs as the Ash Grove and the Scene.
Could you describe "the scene" at the time?
Both these clubs
were very small and very funky. The great thing about both clubs were that
people came to listen.
Doors had a colossal hit, and a charismatic front man. Arthur Lee didn't like
to travel, so condemning his group, Love, to national obscurity. What's your
take on the reason(s) why Spirit didn't raise above "cult status"?
was really made for albums unlike The Doors or Arthur Lee they never had that
On the first
album, songs like Fresh Garbage and Topanga Windows obviously resonated with
the times. Do you think those topics could resonate with today's audiences?
I think the topics
would resonate but it would be very difficult to get airplay. FM radio was at
one time free form and open to songs like Fresh Garbage, not today. There are
plenty of songs about the environment etc.
the back cover of the group's second album, The Family That Plays Together, you
are credited under "additional dialogue", which I assume to be the
card game - poker? - that's part of the soundscape in Silky Sam. Would you
wrote the song Silky Sam about me. I was at the recording studio when Lou was
recording this track and he asked me to go into the studio and play a couple of
hands of poker with the guys which he used in the break of the song.
album sports two of the group's signature songs: opening track I Got A Line On
You - the group's only semi-hit - and closing track Aren't You Glad. Your take
I always felt
that I Got A Line On You was their only real commercial shot at a hit single.
But Aren't You Glad really showcased all their musical talent.
I'd like to
know if you were still involved with the group after their second album.
really. I had moved on and became more involved with Columbia CBS moving
to Chicago from LA. That's when the squabbling started.
Do you think
that Spirit's first four albums, as released on Audio Fidelity, will resonate
with both "old-time connoisseurs" and "newcomers" alike?
I certainly hope
© Beppe Colli 2017
CloudsandClocks.net | May 19, 2017