Tent Of Miracles from 1990 finds the thirteenth album by Spirit reissued in an expanded format with a live show from Amsterdam as the added bonus.
Release Date: 24th April 2020
Label: Cherry Red Records
Randy California dominates the writing credits, although this album was recognised as a collaborative effort. Between them, they created compositions that are as fresh as the day they were written.
No horses are spared on drummer Ed Cassidy’s rollicking instrumental opener Borderline. This segues nicely into Zandu makes two further appearances – a bonus track and also live on disc two, recorded at the Melkweg, Amsterdam in 1990. Such was my mind at that moment and my hearing not great I could swear the chorus went “she’s lost in fever, a fever of love.”
The next track is another upbeat, wholesome rocker. Love From Here has an infectious foot-tapping rhythm which will take you swooping back to Spirit’s heyday. A slower, bluesier number, Ship Of Fools follows. This track and the following two (Burning Love and Tent of Miracles) are also performed on the live recording and demonstrate how this pared-down production with less synth and more basic guitar, bass and drums provides a clear, sharp arrangement of tunes. All the better without any sonic distractions.
It is the next track Logical Answers that really struck a chord with me. The cosmic guitar intro leads into a country-style tune to deliver its message; a great contrast but it works. A brassy accompaniment on Old Black Magic is then added to the basic guitar, bass and drums to create a jazzy feel.
Spirit were never well known for chart success but Neglected Emotion’s 60’s pop feel could have been a possibility for a hit. Staying in the 60’s, Imaginary Mask and Stuggart Says Goodbye would not have been amiss amongst the hippy songs of that era. They must have had a fresh feeling in the ’90s and still do now, especially the latter with its half-spoken half-sung lyrics.
When the music is such good value for money it makes you wonder how many great albums of the ’60s and ’70s had minimalistic packaging without printed lyrics? In this package not only do you get a studio and live disc but 9 bonus tracks too ( this would have constituted a full album years ago).
Two tracks are reprised from the studio album, one of which, Zandu, is also on live disc and the other a live version of Borderline. The rest is a mix of live, acoustic and rehearsal or outtake versions of familiar Spirit material.
The second disc is the complete live performance from the Melkveg, Amsterdam, previously unreleased, and contains six tracks from Tent Of Miracles. This was clearly a night when the band were at the top of their game as the audience demands an encore resulted in them adding five more songs to the setlist. Randy California’s harmonies with Mike Nile are outstanding and even though all live performances have their rough points. Rapture In The Chambers and Love Tonight are given the stripped-down production of the studio disc not afforded to them on the original recordings.
Spirit’s ability to recreate the ever-changing sounds experience from previous decades is clearly highlighted in both studio and live discs and makes this package a pure joy to listen to. Sadly they were not overly popular on local shores, so hopefully, this fresh airing may kindle more interest in them.
You can pre-order a copy of Tent Of Miracles through Cherry Red Records, here.
Here’s the title track: