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Spirit Caravan | The Last Embrace | review | rock | Lollipop

Spirit Caravan

The Last Embrace (MeteorCity)
by Brian Varney

A two-disc odds'n'sods-type compilation from my favorite Wino-led band, The Last Embrace seems to exist mostly to make available once again the tracks from the band's two full-length albums, Jug Fulla Sun and Elusive Truth, both of which are now out-of-print since Tolotta, the label that released them, has shut its doors for the last time. As an added incentive to folks who already own both albums, several of those tracks are presented in alternate versions preferred by the band (i.e. "The Departure," which was originally released on the Rise Above compilation Rise 13 and then re-recorded for the Elusive Truth album - the version here is the original Rise 13 version). There are also a couple of tracks that were only released on 7", and two totally unreleased songs, the band's final studio recordings, one of which gives its title to this compilation and is both completely unlike anything else in the band's discography, and is among the best things to bear the band's name. And, as the cherry on top, the whole shebang's been remastered and the songs sound appreciably better than they did on the original albums.

Having said that, this is a lot of material (29 tracks), and probably not the ideal starting place for a newcomer. I'd steer them towards the Dreamwheel EP, also available from MeteorCity. It's the band's best release, and it's a nice introduction to the band's tasty brand of mystic power-trio doom, enough to let someone judge whether they must have everything the band did, or nothing more.

Fans who already own the Tolotta versions of the albums may or may not consider this a necessary purchase. That'll depend on the listener's level of fanaticism. The 10 or so non-LP tracks here are really good, but buying a two-CD set when you already own two thirds of the songs will probably not appeal to casual fans. Of course, collections like this are rarely for the casual fans, now are they? They're for completists, which I am when it comes to Spirit Caravan, so I was very glad indeed to get it. And I'm betting that, once you've had your appetite for the band's glorious sound whetted, you'll want it all, too.
(PO Box 40322 Albuquerque, NM 97195)

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