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Spirit

Tent Of Miracles

Review by Gary Hill

Here we have a new deluxe edition of a Spirit album that was released in 1990. The sound of the set has a remarkably retro vibe. The lineup is Randy California (guitars and vocals), Ed Cassidy (drums and vocals) and Mike Nile (bass and vocals). This double CD set includes the original album with several bonus tracks along with a second disc that is a live performance from the same time period. I have to say that I really like this album, and in fact, the whole package, quite a bit. The two CDs come with a booklet and a digi-pack to hold the whole thing together.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Disc One
            
Borderline

Drums bring this into being. The band come in from there and Randy California puts in some killer guitar work on the introduction. They work out from there through some cool shifts and changes. This is an intriguing instrumental introduction.

Zandu
With a cool heavy rock turned melodic vibe, I dig the echoey guitar bits early in the piece. It works to more of a psychedelically tinged pop rock tune from there. The cool start and stop rocking movement late is a great touch.
Love From Here
The rhythm section brings this number into being. The guitar rises up from there with almost an acoustic blues vibe. The vocals come over the top, bringing a mainstream 70s rock sound with them. I love the guitar soloing later in the piece. There is definitely a harder edged blues rock texture to that instrumental movement.
Ship of Fools
I love the killer bluesy groove of this. The arrangement has some funky jazz texture built into it. The cut definitely reminds me of something Robin Trower might have done in the 1970s. This is so classy. In fact, I'd consider it one of the highlights of the set.
Burning Love
Harder rocking and more involved, there is almost a proggy edge to this. I love the vocal arrangement on the tune, and the guitar fills are just about perfect. This is such a strong song.
Tent of Miracles
I remember my mother telling me about the traveling tent revivals from when she was young. Those events are the lyrical basis for this song. The tune has some cool psychedelic edges to it. There are hints of prog here, too. The jam late in the track features some sounds of the revivals along with some spacey trippiness.
Logical Answers
I dig the killer fusion meets blues guitar work at the start of this piece. That extended introduction takes up about a minute of the cut. From there, they turn it into country-like folk rocker. This is very much the kind of thing that you would expect to hear in the late 1960s. It's a classic example of the folk-based hippie music.
Old Black Magic
There is a healthy helping of funk built into this rocker. It's a lot of fun. It is also packed with energy. Some horns lend some charm to it.
Neglected Emotion
I dig the playful, almost dreamy vibe to it. This makes good uses of keyboards and definitely leans toward prog rock.
Imaginary Mask
I love the rather rubbery bass line on this number. The guitar is classy, too. There is an open dreamy, jazzy vibe to the piece.
Stuttgart Says Goodbye
I dig the cool rocking groove on this number. There are both spoken and sung vocals. This tune just oozes style and cool. This is another highlight of the set. It has some hints of the kind of thing Frank Zappa might do in some ways. I love the guitar soloing as the cut approaches the end, too.
Deep in This Land
More of a mainstream rocker, this has some solid hooks and works well. It's a strong tune, making it a great way to close the original album.
Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks
          
Covered Wagons (Original sessions out-take)

It really speaks to the quality of material when this is an out-take. The bouncy, catchy kind of psychedelia meets folk concept work so well. I'd put this on an even par with most of the material on the main disc.

California Band (Original sessions out-take)
This energetic rocker seems like trademark Spirit. It's a lot of fun.
Zandu (rehearsal)
This rehearsal is good stuff. Sure, the final version is more polished and recorded better, but it works here, too.
Kokomo
This rocker is fun, but not really up to the level of the main album. That said, the killer guitar solo is on fire.
All I Need Is Time (acoustic demo)
Truth in advertising is on display here. This cut has a less than perfect recording, but you understand that given that it's a demo. Just guitar and vocals, it works pretty well in that format.
I Can't Dance No More (Live 1994)
This is a cool bluesy rocker. It works pretty well.
Dark Eyed Woman (Live 1994)

Set in the same general territory as the previous number, this has an extended drum solo as the bulk of the tune. 

Woke Up This Morning (Live 1994)
I dig the bass sound on this thing. It's a pretty straightforward blues rocker. It's a solid tune, but nothing all that special.
Borderline (Live1990, Germany)
This has a classy blues sound to it. This instrumental works pretty well, but feels a bit un-developed.
Disc Two
  
Live at the Melkweg, Amsterdam
                  
March 13th, 1990
                        
Previously Unreleased
                       
Love From Here

Coming in with a cool blues groove, this works out in style.

Fresh Garbage
Some killer bass work brings this into being. The cut really feels very much like a Frank Zappa kind of thing as it gets going. Around the minute-and-a-half mark they take it out into a jazz meets space kind of jam. It works back out to the main song as it approaches the five-minute mark.
Love Tonight
A classy bluesy rocker, this works well here. It has some solid hooks and is meaty.
Tent of Miracles
The title track from the album gets a cool live telling here, become a bit more of a hard rocker. I prefer the studio version, but this is cool.
Like a Rolling Stone
I dig the guitar explorations as this Bob Dylan cover works outward. This rocks a bit harder than when Dylan does it. It works well.
Nature's Way
Here we get one of the band's big hits. There is an extended introduction here, first spoken and then with trippy music. They work out into the song proper and put in a solid performance of it.
Burning Love
This song feels like trademark Spirit in this live performance. It's a solid tune delivered with style.
Mr. Skin
I dig the killer groove on this Spirit classic. They put in a solid live rendition. I love the funky bass work on the tune.
Rapture in the Chambers
Another tasty groove leads this number out of the gate. There are some cool hooks here. It gets into some particularly hard rocking zones as it continues.
All The Same
There is a spacey aspect to this rocker. I love the soaring guitar work on the piece. The drumming stands out, too. In fact, there is an extensive drum solo in the number.
I Got a Line On You
Another of the band's hits, I've always loved this number. It's a powerhouse tune that works so well in this live take.
Deep In This Land
I think this number might take on some cool energy and style in the live performance. This might be stronger than the studio version.
Animal Zoo
This rocker is packed full of class. It's a fun tune, and a great live performance, too. They manage some cool explorations along the road here.
Zandu
Another solid live performance, this is good, but not a standout. Still, it does take on more of a classic Spirit sound here. There is a weird trippy noise-fest kind of thing at the end.
Ship of Fools
Some killer guitar work brings this into being. The number is very much a blues rocking tune. It's a lot of fun and quite classy. I'd actually almost call it more of a pure electric blues tune than a rock song.
Downer
Here is another energetic blues rocker. This one probably lands more on the side of rock song. There is a neo-classical break with some killer guitar work.
 
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