Spur “Spur of the Moments”
Spur was an unknown Illinois band who gained some local notoriety in the late 60’s but never hit the big time (they opened for many of the era’s big bands: The Byrds, Cream, Bob Seger, Steve Miller and The Grateful Dead). For Spur of the Moments, Drag City compiled the best tracks from their sole album (1968-), along with several outtakes and rare 45 cuts. Tons of blogs and rock magazines/fanzines have reviewed this gem, so we figured we’d give our own spin on this exciting new reissue.
While Spur of the Moments is by no means a cohesive, album-like statement, each song is finely crafted 60’s rock n roll that’s well worth a spin. Spur started out life as a garage band who called themselves The Unknowns. The Unknowns would eventually change their name to Spur and touch on a variety of classic 60’s sounds: garage, folk-rock, heavy psych and country-rock. It must’ve been a challenge to assemble and piece together this anthology. Spur were certainly long-lived by 60’s standards (1965-1972) but they were also a group who frequently revamped their sound/style and spent very little time in the recording studio. That being said, Drag City does a great job putting all their highlights together in one convenient place.
The LP’s first five cuts are its most brilliant ones. We begin with “Mind Odyssey,” a classic slice of psychedelic country-rock that’s highlighted by fluid guitar work and mild studio experimentation. With “Tribal Gathering,” Spur turns a classic Byrds track into a 14 minute Grateful Dead-like acid guitar jam. “Time Is Now,” another great performance, is quality West Coast psychedelia with good harmonies (about mid way through), fuzz guitar and a strong Jefferson Airplane feel. These 3 cuts also suggest that Spur may have been listening to The Byrds’ Notorious Byrd Brothers album. “Modern Era,” a 1966 single which was originally backed by a cover of Gene Clark’s “Feel A Whole Lot Better” (not included), recalls 5D Byrds, with it’s punchy, jangley guitars and acid fried lyrics – definitely a keeper. “Mr. Creep,” a terrific cut from Spur’s sole album, sports cool, distorted vocals, razor sharp guitars and bizarre lyrics (great, twisted garage psych). Other fine tracks: Spur’s excellent country-rock take on The Beatles’ classic “Eight Days A Week” (banjo and steel guitar make me think of a cross between Dillard & Clark and The Flying Burrito Brothers), the suprising power pop of “Help Me I’m Falling” and the jumpy garage number “Be Tender, My Love.”
Spur of the Moments is only being offered on vinyl and MP3 formats (not cd). This is certainly one of the better reissues of 2010. A good one to own if you’re into Moby Grape, The Byrds or Buffalo Springfield.