In The Spirit Of Things
MCA Records, 1988
REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/17/2008
In The Spirit Of Things is concept album. The concept isn't a linear story and it isn't particularly fluid, but it adds some nice color. At first listen, I got the impression of musical theater. It's got a bit of a Rogers & Hammerstein feel to it, and you can easily see this collection of songs -- most of them anyway -- as a stage production. The opening number “Ghosts” paints a vivid picture of a forgotten place in small town
“There's a schoolhouse full of broken glass, and wounded walls
The rusty swings like derelicts sleeping in the weeds
There's a picture -- graduation class, staring down deserted halls
"The Hope Of ‘44" is what it reads.”
The songs that follow are a series of vignettes of post WWII America. “One Big Sky” is a plea for peace from a world healing from the scars of war. “House On Fire” is a blazing rocker with a “High School Confidential” feel to it. Steve Walsh rips up the organ old-school
The album bogs down a bit in the middle under the weight of three back-to-back power ballads. Too many ballads that sound alike, too many choruses -- too much, too much. One would have been fine, three might have worked if not piggybacked on each other. Fortunately, the album picks up after the 37th chorus of “I Counted On Love.”
The closing twenty minutes of Spirit are as good as anything the band has done since their peak in 1977. “The Preacher” is a gorgeous gospel inspired number with a full choir. Walsh plays the fire and brimstone preacher who changes hats for the next number. “Rainmaker.” “Rainmaker” is the showpiece number of the disc with Walsh and guitarist Steve Morse creating a little sonic opera complete with thundering horses and raging wind. “The Bells Of Saint James” closes out the album beautifully, as Walsh belts out a powerful lament for soldiers far from home.
The sound of this album is pretty dynamic from beginning to end. There are plenty of dense walls of sound, big, lush keys, and tight vocal harmonies. They definitely come across sounding more like the
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