Spirit – The Family That Plays Together

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  • The band’s sophomore release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides
  • A very difficult album to find with good sound and audiophile quality surfaces
  • Both sides have presence, size and space we guarantee you have never heard on this album in all your born days
  • I Got A Line On You was the big hit and it really rocks on this copy
  • 4 1/2 stars: “On this, the second Spirit album, the group put all of the elements together that made them the legendary (and underrated) band that they were. Jazz, rock & roll, and even classical elements combined to create one of the cleanest, most tasteful syntheses of its day.”

This is a record I grew up with and like to think I know well. I’m a huge fan of the band. For audiophiles the first album and Clear are better recordings. This one has its problems, but so does Twelve Dreams and that album belongs in any rock collection worthy of the name.

The sound on the better copies isn’t unlike a good Jefferson Airplane record. It’s crazy psychedelic ’60s music with a LOT going on, and I’m guessing it was pretty hard to get the raw power of this band onto tape.

This vintage Ode pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the Best Sides of The Family That Plays Together Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1968
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Worth The Wait

We get asked about this classic album a lot, but until recently we were not convinced that we’d ever be able to find a great-sounding copy. We built up a huge stack of copies and finally took the plunge; I am pleased to report that even though you’ll never hear a copy of this album that screams “Demo Disc,” you can certainly find ones that communicate the music well if you clean and play enough of ’em.

There are times on the album where you can hear some grit and distortion, but trust us — that’s on the tape, and any steps taken after the fact to remove it would rob the instruments of their natural texture. We all enjoy rich, smooth sound, but it’s not worth losing musical information. This record may not sound perfect, but it sounded right to our ears, and most copies just plain don’t.

What We’re Listening For on The Family That Plays Together

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Armin Steiner in this case — would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

I Got a Line on You
It Shall Be
Poor Richard
Silky Sam
The Drunkard
Darlin If

Side Two

All the Same
Jewish
Dream Within a Dream
She Smiled
Aren’t You Glad

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

On this, the second Spirit album, the group put all of the elements together that made them the legendary (and underrated) band that they were. Jazz, rock & roll, and even classical elements combined to create one of the cleanest, most tasteful syntheses of its day. The group had also improved measurably from their fine debut album, especially in the area of vocals.

The album’s hit single, “I Got a Line on You,” boasts especially strong harmonies as well as one of the greatest rock riffs of the period. The first side of this record is a wonderful and seamless suite, and taken in its entirety, one of the greatest sides on Los Angeles rock… All in all, a classic album and a true landmark.