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Non-Prog CD Reviews


Rockpalast: West Coast Legends, Vol. 3

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve always liked Spirit. They were a great band that represented both the hippie psychedelia and killer blues rock. This live recording captures the group in their prime. The sound is remarkably good, with one notable exception. Whoever did the mix put this stupid synthesizer way too far up. It gets fixed late in the show, but really mars a lot of the performances. That said, I’d still recommend this disc because there aren’t that many good live performances of Randy California and company. Of course, the appearance in the last track of Dickey Betts is a bonus.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at
Track by Track Review
Rockpalast Intro

This is just like a short instrumental introduction – basically the theme song for “Rockpalast,” I think.

Rockpalast Jam
Drums lead out and hold the track for a time. The rest of the group come in tentatively. Really, though, the first minute and a half or more is essentially a drum solo. These guys sound so tight in their psychedelic rock motif. There are definitely elements of Hendrix here. I think it’s an improvised track.
Mr. Skin
They put in a killer live performance of this classic Spirit track. I have to say that the keyboard sounds on this seem to be a bit over the top in terms of the mix. The vocal arrangement is strong and the band really seem to be enjoying themselves here. 
Nature's Way
It might seem too obvious, but I’ve always loved this song. It has always made me think of The Guess Who for some reason. No matter, though, they put in a good live rendition here. The synthesizer is again a little heavy handed in the mix. The guitar solo really scorches. 
Like A Rolling Stone
Here they cover Bob Dylan. They put in a cool jam band rendition, but that damned synthesizer pops up over the top at a couple points in this, too. Still, this is a good cut. 
That synthesizer starts this off – grrrrr. They take us out from there in one of the hardest rocking jams of the whole set, though. I just want to shoot whoever did the mix, though cause that little bit of synth – always the same little chord, just drowns everything out. There’s a killer guitar solo on this piece. 
It's All The Same
Drums lead out and as the band comes in with a bluesy riff it reminds me a bit of Cream meets Black Sabbath. They take it out into some seriously psychedelic territory, though. And, perhaps the best part, that damned synthesizer is gone! There’s some great drumming and killer guitar soloing. They take us out into some Grand Funk Railroad like territory later, too. This is the second longest cut on show here, weighing in at over sixteen minutes. They use all the extra space to really changes things up and give each member of the trio the chance to shine, with another drum solo put in mid-track as an example. 
I Got A Line On You
I’ve always loved this song, but wow, that stupid synthesizer is back and annoying. Of course, it’s more subdued this time around, and that’s good because the track gets a little room to breathe. 
All Along The Watchtower
They are back to covering Dylan here. It’s a great rocker. I like their version a lot – except that synth shows up here and there again. Randy California really screams out on the guitar solo. 
Wild Thing
Another cover, they do a good version of this piece. It has plenty of the original, while still conveying a Spirit flavor. I’ve always dug this song in all its iterations. There’s a scorching guitar solo on this and we’re free from that annoying synth – two reasons to be thankful. 
Downer (Tampa Jam)
A rocker, this has the synthesizer, but it’s down in the mix. It’s a bluesy rock and roll jam that’s got a lot of Hendrix in the mix. There’s a cool psychedelic guitar solo.
If I Miss This Train/Rockpalast Jam
The longest cut on show, this one weighs in at over seventeen minutes. It features a guest appearance by Dickey Betts. It’s a great bluesy rock jam.
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