Spirit - Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
Spirit started out really strong with their first three albums led by the guitar histrionics and songwriting of Randy California and the jazzy drumming of his stepfather Ed Cassidy reaching charts easily.
By the time they reached Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus (1970), their fourth album, all members of the band along with these two, that is Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes, fully developed not only as musicians but also as songwriters. The album got its name after a 1961 horror movie Mr. Sardonicus, in which a man with a frozen horrifying grin wants an experimental treatment to remove it.
The album, presenting its songs in the ever-present dream thematics of the late sixties psych era - dreams as well as nightmares, was a fully realized, musically diverse song cycle. Songs like "Nature’s Way" still resonate fifty decades on., with the whole album sounding fresh and new even today.
And while it received full critical acclaim, it didn’t do well commercially, becoming the reason Ferguson and Andes left the band. California and Cassidy continued, Spirit turned into another psych-era cult band, with Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus remaining possibly Spirit’s strongest effort and surely one of the psych-era classics.