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2023/4 Albums Thing 326 - Spirit Of The West “Labour Day”

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I first encountered Spirit Of The West when I was In Canada in 1990. The Wonder Stuff were touring the US opening for The Mission, we were in town on a day off and SOTW were playing Vancouver’s famed Commodore Ballroom. I have to point out that I didn’t go to that gig but members of our party did and all were raving about them the day after. Over the next few years I got very familiar with their music as they toured and recorded with us and I can still count co-singer and whistle player Geoffrey Kelly as a friend.

Spirit Of the West had an ever changing lineup over the years but the core of the band were Geoffrey, singer John Mann and multi-instrumentalist Hugh McMillan. At heart they were a Scottish Folk group but over time they developed and wrote some truly great songs that held on to that folk influence, most famously “Home For A Rest” (aka the alternative Canadian National Anthem). I own half a dozen of their albums and a couple of John Mann’s solo albums but only “Labour Day” on (White) vinyl.

This was the album that preceded the one where we found them, 1990’s “Save This House” (home to the aforementioned “Home For A Rest”). It’s a more overtly Folk record than those that came after and if you like intricately picked stringed instruments, reeling and jigging whistles and great singers (John Mann had a superb voice) then this might well be for you. Highlights for me are the opening song “Dark House”, “Political” which they went on re-record in a more contemporary Indie/Dance style later in the 90’s and the stunning “Take It From The Source”, a beautiful and brutal takedown of the sort of people that unthinkingly regurgitate others hatred, and remember this was written in the 80’s !

Spirit Of The West called it a day in 2016, a result of the early onset Dementia that John Mann developed and that took him from us in 2017, he was 3 months older than me. In Canada they are legends but the rest of the world really didn’t catch on.

Take It From The Source - https://youtu.be/oDEKQrfWh8o?si=FblxuNSSp2JUg1fM

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