Though the Los Angeles-based outfit Spirit explored many stylistic pathways during the course of their long existence, their first incarnation, which found the group releasing a series of eclectic psych-folk albums on Epic to critical acclaim and commercial disappointment, was arguably their most satisfying. Ubiquitous music scene insider Lou Adler produced the group’s 1968 debut. In an era that featured a dearth of ambitious, musically eclectic outfits, Spirit were notable for the effortlessness with which they were able to switch among musical styles. While releases from likeminded contemporaries such as the Insect Trust often sound like promising but frustratingly schizophrenic amalgamations of ill-fitting musical styles, Spirit is possessed of a striking intensity of aesthetic focus that creates a distinct and consistent musical atmosphere even as Spirit flits ambitiously between country, pop-psychedelia, and progressive blues. Many remember this album only for the song “Taurus” but Spirit is a rich and rewarding listen that embodies the very best that the California psych scene of the late ‘60s had to offer.

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