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Spirit - Farther Along

Spirit - Farther Along

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Title:  Farther Along
Company: Mercury
Catalog: SRM-1-1084
Year: 1976
Country/State: US
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened); cut lower right corner; includes lyric insert

Finally enjoying a bit of stability on the personnel front and seemingly having figured out how to survive in a post Jay Ferguson environment, the band released 1976's "Farther Along". Produced by Al Schmitt, the album was slammed by most folks and admittedly isn't one of their best, or most consistent performances. By the same token it wasn't nearly as bad as critics would have you believe. With all five members contributing material, the set was quite diverse, including stabs at country-rock ('Farther Along'), funk, ('Atomic Boogie') pop ('World Eat World Dog'), and conventional rock ('Colossus'). True, that versatility came at the expense of some of their quirkiness and at times they seem to have made a group decision to mimic Pablo Cruise and other mid-1970s AOR bands ('Stoney Night'). Still, it was nice to hear the group seemingly in good spirits and form (if only for a brief period).        

- Spirit doing a country-rock number? Well why not? Mark Andes had been a member of Firefall so they certainly had the credentials and experience ... Not only that, but kicked along by a nice Mark Andes bass, once it got rolling, 'Farther Alone' was actually quite good. rating: *** stars
- The lone band composition (spread the blame), 'Atomic Boogie' was a mess. A dumb lyric coupled with a mindless, horn-propelled stab at white boy funk. Yech !!! rating: * star
- One of the standout performances, 'World Eat World Dog' was a breezy ballad that was surprisingly commercial. Sporting a nice melody and some fantastic group harmonies, this one would have made a far better single than the title track. rating: **** stars
- 'Stoney Night' found the band coming awfully close to adult contemporary cocktail jazz ... the horn charts certainly didn't help the song. Music to listen to while waiting for your dentist ... rating: ** stars
- Penned by keyboardist Locke, the instrumental 'Pineapple' was pleasant, but pointless. rating: ** stars
- Another standout performance, 'Colossus' had another strong melody and some interesting lyrics, though California's vocal was a little shaky. Give it an extra star for the gorgeous acoustic guitars. rating: **** stars
- Normally jazz-rock fusion moves bore me to tears, but 'Mega Star' was one of the rare exceptions. The main melody was so strong that Locke's jazzy keyboards didn't really distract from the piece at all. rating: **** stars
- Penned by Matt Andes, the instrumental 'Phoebe' may have been the album's prettiest composition, but ultimately it sounded like something that might have been written for a film soundtrack. rating: *** stars
- Another country-flavored number, 'Don't Lock Up Your Door' could have been really good, but simply couldn't overcome California's listless vocal. rating: ** stars
- The heavily orchestrated 'Once With You' was unlike anything else on the album. At least to my ears, the song had a distinctively 1960s pop-psych feel. Unfortunately, before it could fully develop the track faded out. Shame. rating: *** stars
- Another sleeper, 'Diamond Spirit' had one of the album's most memorable melodies and showcased one of California's best vocals. Another track that would have made a good single. rating: *** stars
- I'm not even going to hazard a guess as to why the band felt the need to include an orchestrated version of 'Natures Way' on the album. Needless to say, but Don Henderson's orchestration really didn't improve on the song. rating: ** stars

Elsewhere the album was tapped for a single in the form of:

- 1976's 'Farther Along' b/w 'Atomic Boogie' (Mercury catalog number 73837)

And for those nay sayers who didn't think Spirit couldn't sell - this one hit # 179 on the US charts ! It also saw the band fragment again with Mark Andes rejoining Firefall. Matt Andes and John Locke also tendered their resignations leaving Jack Cassidy, Randy California and Barry Keane to continue the Spirit nameplate.
"Further Along" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Farther Along (Randy California - Matt Andes - Ed Cassidy) - 3:23
2.) Atomic Boogie (Randy California - Matt Andes - Ed Cassidy - Mark Andes - John Locke) - 2:39
3.) World Eat World Dog (Randy California - John Locke - Ed Cassidy) - 2:46
4.) Stoney Night (Randy California) - 2:30
5.) Pineapple (instrumental) (John Locke) - 2:11
6.) Colossus (Randy California) - 3:01

(side 2)
1.) Mega Star (Randy California - John Locke) - 3:26
2.) Phoebe (instrumental) (Matt Andes) - 2:10
3.) Don't Lock Up Your Door (Randy California - Matt Andes - Ed Cassidy) - 3:13
4.) Once With You (Randy California - John Locke)- 1:32
5.) Diamond Spirit (Randy California - Matt Andes) - 2:28
6.) Nature's Way (instrumental) (Randy California) - 1:59
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