Favorite Obscure Records: Spirit “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus”

The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus

Spirit: Twelve of Dr. Sardonicus (1970)

The Band:
Randy California – Guitar, Vocals
Mark Andes – Bass, Vocals
Ed Cassidy – Drums, Percussion
Jay Ferguson – Vocals, Percussion
John Locke – Keyboards

Tracklist
1. Prelude – Nothin’ To Hide
2. Nature’s Way
3. Animal Zoo
4. Love Has Found a Way
5. Why Can’t I Be Free?
6. Mr. Skin
7. Space Child
8. When I Touch You
9. Street Worm
10. Life Has Just Begun
11. Morning Will Come
12. Soldier

When I was introduced to this record, through hearing my older brother cranking it on his stereo, the first thing that struck me was the incredible vocal harmonies. As I got deeper into listening I was captivated by Randy California’s blazing guitar work. According to legend, Jimi Hendrix gave Randy his last name and reportedly wanted him to join his band. (Now that’s what I call guitar cred!)

If you give this record a listen, however, you will find that there’s a lot more going on here. In addition to the aforementioned vocal and guitar work, there is some very imaginative, albeit trippy song arrangements. This concept record, complete with a “bookend” introduction and finish, takes you on a journey. Listening to this recording on vinyl is what got me hooked. I remember how struck I was by the transition from the end of the first side of the album with the powerhouse, “Mr. Skin” to the beginning of the second side and the sublime and jazzy “Space Child.”

Another ingredient worth noting are the drum skills of one of the all-time greats and overlooked drummers, Ed Cassidy. John Locke also brings some tasteful keyboards and cool Moog synth work. Add the production skills of David Briggs (Neil Young’s longtime producer) and you have a winning recording.

For whatever reason, this innovative record never really caught on with a mass audience. Maybe it was too ahead of its time?  Whatever the case, I definitely recommend giving this excellent recording a serious listen.

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