Spirit's Tent Of Miracles: expanded but still lean and illuminating

Expanded reissue of 1990 Tent Of Miracles set from Randy California’s slimmed-down trio version of Spirit

Spirit: Tent Of Miracles
(Image: © Tent Of Miracles)

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When Randy California and Ed Cassidy found themselves in reduced circumstances after Spirit were dumped by EMI at the end of the 1980s, the psychedelic veterans pressed on with a self-released album, with producer and bassist Mike Nile joining the band in a surprisingly hands-on creative role. 

The combination was revitalising. A leaner, bluesier sound re-emerged, and even if, 30 years later, Zandu and Love From Here still sometimes sound like solid but unremarkable pop-rock of the period, they’re still marked out by California’s ever-expressive guitar playing. 

More enduring is braver material such as the six-minute title track, written by Nile, on which (according to this package’s illuminating sleeve notes) he tried to channel the classic Dr Sardonicus-era Spirit sound.

Elsewhere, group jams Imaginary Mask and Stuttgart Says Goodbye have an agreeably stoned, quirky quality, but ritzy funk-rocker Old Black Magic and hippie folk ditty Logical Answers haven’t aged so gracefully. 

Amid plenty of previously unreleased extras, sub-bootleg sound quality doesn’t spoil some gutsy live cuts, and similarly lo-fi demos of the CSNY-style Covered Wagons and the Arthur Lee-esque acoustic demo All I Need Is Time are also worthwhile inclusions.

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock