SPIRIT The Original Potato Land (1973) & The Adventures Of Kaptain Kopter & Commander Cassidy in Potato Land (1981)

The Original Potato Land (1973/2006)
Label-Rejected 1973 Stoner Concept Album

Still have any pot lying around the house? Maybe in back of the nightstand drawer or in that old tin in the garage? Now’s the time to dig it out. Potato Land is a (once) lost album from Spirit, or, at least, the last vestiges of the beloved L.A. band. Without getting too deep into the morass of Spirit’s history, Randy California split  in ’72 to go solo while Ed Cassidy & John Locke soldiered on with the Spirit name – along with  hired hands, The Staehely Brothers (whom Cassidy & California would eventually pay to buy the rights to that name back). That version of Spirit released Feedback in 1972, an interesting album in itself. But, only a year later, California was back in the fold, ’cause the family that plays together stays together, and he and Cassidy (stepdad & stepson) masterminded this stunningly stoney concept album that ended up being rejected outright by Epic Records. I won’t bore you with Potato Land‘s plot, but you can read the album’s bizarre story HERE. Musically, it’s a wonderfully freeform trip, filled with song snippets, random dialog (some of which the AMG compared to Cheech & Chong) and reworkings of a couple of Spirit staples, “1984” and “Nature’s Way,” to tie it all together. A pop/psych/stoner’s delight, though there are plenty of inconsistency issues to quibble about. To confuse the Potato Land issue even further, California & Cassidy first released a bastardized version of this concept (altered, shortened & overdubbed as 1981’s The Adventures Of Kaptain Kopter & Commander Cassidy In Potato Land, below), which is why this one – the original ’73 session material – is called The Original Potato Land. Spirit archivist Mick Skidmore recorded this from a 1973 BBC broadcast of the original tapes, then cleaned up the sound for an official 2006 CD release (with bonus tracks). The quality is lacking, though it’s not awful, while the just-surfaced 2011 version, HERE (with an additional disc), doesn’t appear to be any different, sonically speaking. Either way, despite all the personnel & version variables, this is a strange one worth the time of any Spirit fan… stoned or not. Find it at Amazon, (HERE).


Introduction (0:43)
1984 (3:49)
Exit 27 (Dialogue) (1:23)
Turn To The Right (3:44)
Everything Talks To Me (Donut House) (3:44)
Fish Fry Road (3:24)
Nature’s Theme (0:45)
Information (3:11)
My Friend (2:49)
Walkin’ The Dog (3:02)
Giant Potatoes (Dialogue) (0:32)
Lonely In Potatoland (Mashed Potatoes) (3:05)
Nature’s Way (2:38)
Salvation/Matter Of Time/Suite (5:30)
1984 (Reprise) (0:44)
Oil Slick/Million Years Suite (4:32)
Information Reprise (1:46)
It’s Time Now (4:53)
You Know (1:30) – Bonus Track
Donut House (Alternate Version) (3:40) – Bonus Track
Ain’t That Too Bad (3:17) – Bonus Track
Devil (Live) (4:49) – Bonus Track
Shotgun (Live) (4:36) – Bonus Track
Get Out My Life Woman (Live) (5:54) – Bonus Track
Miss This Train (Live) (3:13) – Bonus Track
Interview Clip with Randy California, Ed Cassidy & Bob Harris, April 1973 (2:28) – Bonus Track

The Adventures Of Kaptain Kopter & Commander Cassidy in Potato Land (1981)
For All You A/B Types

The sound is cleaner and the stylistic updates, some seven years after the fact, make for a better sounding record, but much of the stoned, demo charm of the “original” Potato Land got lost in the translation. Randy California, Ed Cassidy and John Locke had not lost the Spirit spirit by 1973, but the “band” changed radically after this music was first recorded, then rejected for release. By 1981, California took the tapes and overdubbed them to make them more compatible with the times, but listeners – and especially fans – had already moved beyond stoned giddiness in general, and concept albums in particular. Still… a little cherry picking will yield some nuggets of vintage 70s Spirit. Find it at Amazon, HERE.

We’ve Got A Lot To Learn (2:16)
Potatoland Theme (5:09)
Open Up Your Heart (4:58)
Morning Light (3:42)
Potatoland Prelude (2:11)
Potatoland Introduction (2:28)
Turn To The Right (5:51)
Donut House (3:00)
Fish Fry Road (3:52)
Information (2:55)
My Friend (2:15)

16 Comments

  • 1
    Willard
    September 7, 2011 - 08:20 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • 2
    September 7, 2011 - 19:32 | Permalink

    Interesting to hear the ‘Original'; never thought much of the edited version; swapped my copy for a Zappa boot.
    77’s ‘Future Games, A Kahuna Dream’ nailed the cut-up and episodic stylee they were playing around with here; and it sampled ‘Star Trek’ dialogue. Radical!

    • 3
      Willard
      September 7, 2011 - 20:47 | Permalink

      Same with me. I liked a few of the Spirit-y melodies and sounds on the ’81 version, but ignored it back in the day. The original really does have a lovely stoner/demo vibe about it. It’s not great, just fun and weird and kinda like a lost demo reel. Thanks.

  • 4
    Ian of Cornwall
    September 23, 2011 - 10:21 | Permalink

    It’s no Dr Sardonicus for sure but the original potato is good. Fetch me Volcano, guys. Cheers! Peace.

  • 5
    Everett W. Gilles
    August 24, 2012 - 06:58 | Permalink

    Hello.
    Just wondering if a re-up was possible for the Original Potato Land…
    Many Thanx.
    EWG

    • 6
      Willard
      August 24, 2012 - 08:33 | Permalink

      New link up. Thanks.

      • 7
        Everett W. Gilles
        August 25, 2012 - 09:31 | Permalink

        Thanx a lot Will.
        Let me know if you need anything, if I can help …

  • 8
    Willard
    August 25, 2012 - 09:38 | Permalink

    Many thanks.

  • 9
    Alfred
    November 15, 2012 - 04:42 | Permalink

    Many thanks Willard for all the effort you put into your blog. Unfortunately it seems that mediafire and the Original Potato Land are not good friends – the link is dead again. Since this is the only source for it …… Will say, a reup would be highly appreciated. All the best, Alfred

  • 10
    Willard
    November 15, 2012 - 08:28 | Permalink

    New link up. Many thanks.

  • 11
    Alfred
    November 16, 2012 - 03:34 | Permalink

    Have to say many thnks again Willard for making it possible to listen to this interesting piece of musical history. My best wishes, Alfred.

  • 12
    Willard
    November 16, 2012 - 07:08 | Permalink

    Thanks for commenting, Alfred.

  • 13
    KDNYfm
    January 18, 2013 - 12:58 | Permalink

    What a great band Spirit were…wish I’d seen the original band live, but I did get to see Randy and Ed around Spirit of 76. Still have Potato land on vinyl, be great to hear it again. Now if I could just find the Mercury albums…

    Thanx Willard!
    Al

  • 14
    johnb
    October 22, 2013 - 01:24 | Permalink

    willard, is there any chance that you can do a post on the first randy california lp, kapt kopter and the fabulous twirly birds from 1972? i Loved that LP. pure hendrix. thanks for all you do.

  • 15
    October 6, 2014 - 11:26 | Permalink

    Hi Willard,
    By a random turn of events I was in the right place at the right time and I heard the original broadcast on the BBC in 1973, on a high-end stereo rig. Luckily we were in exactly the right frame of mind to thoroughly enjoy all the detail of this serendipitous fortune: it was a stunning experience!

    Decades later, again by an unexpected change of plans, I was out with some friends in their home town and I saw in the window of a record store the reworked version on vinyl. It was the only copy that the store had taken into stock and had been sitting there for several months.

    As a dyed-in-the-wool Randy California fan these were both wonderful moments.

    Many thanks for the chance to hear that original broadcast again after all these years; while it could never match the quality of that original play-out I’m sure it will bring back many happy memories. And I’ll be on-passing it to those friends …

    Cheers,
    Steve.

    PS. Kapt. Kopter & his Twirly Birds is easy to find in FLAC …

  • 16
    October 6, 2014 - 11:27 | Permalink

    PPS Anyone interested in RC’s Euro-American (1982)?

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