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Spooky Tooth - 1974 The Mirror



ARTIST: Spooky Tooth
ALBUM: The Mirror
LABEL: Island Records (USA), Goodear (UK)
SERIAL: ILPS-9292, EARL-2001
YEAR: 1974
CD REISSUE: 1994, Line Records (Germany), MLCD 9.00090

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Mike Patto - lead vocals, organ, percussion, drums, keyboards, piano * Gary Wright - lead & background vocals, organ, synthesizer, piano, keyboards * Mick Jones - guitar, percussion, background vocals * Val Burke - bass, background vocals * Bryson Graham - percussion, drums * Mike Harrison - keyboards, background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Fantasy Satisifer * 02 Two Time Love * 03 Kyle * 04 Woman And Gold * 05 Higher Circles * 06 Hell Or High Water * 07 I'm Alive * 08 The Mirror * 09 The Hoofer

WEBLINKS: www.spookytooth.com


Background
Spooky Tooth was a British/American hard rock band with a spotty career and painfully average albums. It says a lot that Spooky Tooth's biggest claim to fame is their song 'Better By You, Better Than Me' covered by Judas Priest and the subject of a 1990 civil lawsuit in the suicide death of a Nevada teenager. The song was originally written by Gary Wright and covered on Priest's 'Stained Class' opus. Supposedly the version in question contained a subliminal message 'Do It' which the family says lead to the death, but in reality the trial was a media circus and eventually dismissed. While I'm sure sales of 'Stained Class' spiked, it's doubtful many ran out to buy the Spooky Tooth album 'Spooky Two' with the original take, but perhaps I'm being too harsh? OK I'll behave. Despite several lackluster releases, the group finally got it together in 1974 with the departure of Mike Harrison and the addition of Mike Patto on vocals. 'The Mirror' was the second album to feature future Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones and here he comes into his own sharing production chores with Wright and Eddie Kramer delivering a none too shabby rock album that would turn out to be Spooky Tooth's swan song.


The Songs
Jones and Wright merge their song writing talents on the opener 'Fantasy Satisfier', a chug-a-lug rock tune and impressive at that. Now, before I go any further it's a good bet this album was the prototype for the early Foreigner sound. There are just way too many similarities to ignore and 'Fantasy Satisfier' as well as 'Two Time Love' and the powerful ballad 'Kyle' could have easily fit on the classic 1977 debut. It also has to be said this is the hardest you will hear Gary Wright rock. Everyone's favourite space cadet is very down to earth here and no funk to found anywhere, something that marred so many of his solo albums. When he's not taking the lead role, Wright's background vocals stand out, but Patto holds his own with a classic rock voice that's works better when the group cuts loose. The Uriah Heep-ish 'Woman and Gold' is a good example of Patto at his best and here he shares vocals with Wright with very cool results while 'Higher Circles' moves into Deep Purple territory and succeeds admirably if slightly plagiaristic. After a spacey keyboard interlude that I'm sure Wright couldn't resist, a 'Talk Box' ala the sound Peter Frampton made famous kicks in for what arguably just might be the best cut on the album. Sort of Humble Pie meets Uriah Heep with Peter Frampton sitting in, 'Hell or High Water' should have been on radios everywhere along with 'I'm Alive' where Wright gives one of his best performances. Rounding out the set is the title track, again with both Wright and Patto sharing vocal chores. Like a slow moving Deep Purple shot into space with swirling keys and a steady back beat, it's moody and powerful, but all good things must come to an end and in this case it's the final cut 'The Hoofer'. Reminding me of the Spooky Tooth of old, a crummy song with no endearing features or hook and its almost as if it was tacked on to the LP at the last minute to fill time. Too bad, it's a blemish on an otherwise excellent album.


In Summary
Two different versions of the cover can be found; the first shown here featured an impressive die-cut cover while the second shows the plain photo of the band that was the back cover of the first issue. Reissued on CD several times, it's currently out of print which is a shame since it's the only Spooky Tooth album worth owning. Finally, I should mention Gary Wright has resurrected Spooky Tooth and is making the rounds on the Euro concert circuit. Hope you can read into my sarcasm - I can hardly contain my excitement.


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Comments
#1 | rkbluez on January 31 2009 14:45:01
Eric "The Mirror" was actually Spooky Tooth's third album with Mick Jones as he was on You Broke My Heart...So I Busted Your Jaw, Witness and The Mirror.

To be honest I love all three of these albums with Witness being my favorite and most Foreigner sounding of the bunch.

Repertoire has released finally both You Busted...and Witness and I'd love to see them do The Mirror with the original art work...though I don't believe these are from master tapes they sound really good certainly better than the bootleg import versions that were around and better than not having them at all.

There is a cheesy version of the CD still available on Charly Records UK with a terrible looking cover of a band picture from the late 60's that had nothing to do with this 1974 classic...but the sound quality is at least decent.
#2 | Eric on January 31 2009 14:47:53
I stand corrected. I have the Charley CD and what is up with the Mt. Rushmore photo? lol! You can have the other Spooky Tooth albums-just not my thang.
#3 | rkbluez on January 31 2009 18:28:35
Yeah Eric what the hell was that record company thinking when they used that cover.thumbs down

I scanned the original lp and made my own cover...I just couldn't deal with that awful mount Rushmore shot of them with their haircuts they had in the 60's...it is truly laughable.hilarious

The American cover art of the Witness and You Broke...albums was so much better than the Euro cover art Repertoire used...but I won't complain at least I can listen to them in decent quality.music
#4 | Eric on January 31 2009 19:00:36
Ha! On the Charly reissue they even left of 'The Hoofer' on the c-card, but maybe that was intentional?hilarious
 
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