Bootleg Bin: Spirit – Texas International Pop Festival, Vol. 7

Happy 62nd birthday to bassist Mark Andes. He was a founding member of Spirit, and later a member of Firefall and Heart. Here’s a review of a legendary performance of which he was an important part.

People just didn’t know what do with Spirit. Their jazz aspirations made them less accessible that they would have otherwise been, yet Randy California (his surname bestowed upon him by no less a figure than Jimi Hendrix) played hard-driving rock leads. They could — and did — write succinct radio-ready pop songs (“I Got a Line On You,” “1984” and the 70s FM staple “Nature’s Way”), but live, their tendency to indulge in jamspectaculars was unleashed. So it was in September 1969 that the group found themselves onstage at the massive Texas International Pop Festival, playing a typical set of the era. The hits were there, including the tricky time signatures of “Fresh Garbage,” but there was plenty of jamming going on as well. California’s stepdad Ed Cassidy never fails to impress, even on the obligatory drum solo.

The group’s heyday would only last a few more years; after that time, California and Cassidy would hold together lesser lineups of the group while Jay Ferguson went on to much more mainstream solo success (remember “Thunder Island?”). And John Locke and Mark Andes eventually ended up in, of all places, Heart. But on this day in ’69, the stage belonged to Spirit. While a soundboard recording, this disc — as all of the volumes in the 13-disc set — is a bit on the shrill and tinny side. But the performances captured therein (including sets by Grand Funk, Incredible String Band, Sam & Dave, Herbie Mann, Canned Heat, Delaney & Bonnie, Tony Joe White, Sweetwater, Santana, Sly & the Family Stone, Ten Years After, Edgar and Johnny Winter, Janis Joplin, B.B. King, Led Zeppelin, Rotary Connection, Chicago and James Cotton) make it well worthwhile. File this under the “why hasn’t this been released officially?” category.

Difficulty to Locate: 5 out of 10
General Listenability: 7 out of 10

Disclosure of Material Connection:
I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein.