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Spirit in the Sky

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Audio CD, June 5, 2001
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 5, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Varese Fontana
  • ASIN: B00005K9QL
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,011 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Junior Cadillac
2. Spirit In The Sky
3. Skyline
4. Jubilee
5. Alice Bodine
6. Tars Of India
7. The Power
8. Good Lookin' Woman
9. Milk Cow
10. Marcy
11. School For Sweet Talk
12. Children Of Paradise
13. Canned Ham
14. Save Me For A Rainy Day
15. Chocolate Milk
16. Spirit In The Sky
17. Norman Greenbaum Radio Promo

Editorial Reviews

The founder of Dr. West's Medicine Show & Junk Band soared to solo stardom with this 1970 LP, a #23 album featuring the #3 smash title track. That song has been used in films from Good Morning Vietnam to Apollo 13 to Wayne's World 2 , yet this LP has never been on CD until now! Includes seven bonus tracks: his hit Canned Ham , unissued demos and more!

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
Realling enjoying the music.
This album brought back some of my favorite memories from the time the album came out in 1970 and the following years.
Spirit in the Sky is my favorite cut.
M. Moore

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By hyperbolium on July 2, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Those looking to Greenbaum's solo debut for tracks that measure up to the cultural touchstone, "Spirit in the Sky," are likely to be disappointed. However, taken on its own merits, this 1969 release has something more to offer. In addition to the original 13 tracks, Varese's reissue adds three previously unreleased demos (including the original acoustic version of "Spirit in the Sky"), and a radio promo (whose layered editing must have sounded right at home on FM underground radio).

The leap from Greenbaum's acoustic demo to the finished production of "Spirit in the Sky" is an education in itself. The original, plucked on an acoustic guitar, shorn of the fuzz guitar and the Stovall Sisters backing vocals, fits more tightly with the simpler, hippie blues-pop that fills the rest of the album. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this reissue is just how out-of-place the final production of "Spirit" sounds. The dominating guitar riff and psychedelic intonations elevate this cut to a level beyond what Greenbaum was predominantly up to at the time.

Listening to the demo, with Greenbaum's unadorned, wavery vocals, the focus returns to the lyrics, which turn out to have the same sort of opacity as many other cuts. It's this fuzziness that allowed "Spirit" to be interpreted as everything from proto-Christian rock to ironic, nearly anti-religious ideas. And its the original spirit of the lyrics, heard in the demo, that connects the song to the album.

The remaining tracks range from memorably melodic pop ("Skyline" "School for Sweet Talk") to Dan Hicks-styled gospel ("Jubilee") to tin-pan alley ("Chocolate Milk"), to rock, blues and soul (including some nice horn charts and wah-wah guitar).
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By B. E Jackson on May 11, 2010
Format: Audio CD
You know what's funny to me?

Over the last 20 years I've been listening to FM radio (well that's not entirely true- the last 10 years FM radio has been terrible IMO so I only listen in occasionally) disc jockeys have ALWAYS been saying Norman Greenbaum is only famous "for one big hit". Constantly beating this fact into our head, implying it's the only song of his worth knowing.

Yes, he's only famous for "Spirit in the Sky", but guess what? The quality of his songwriting makes him a LOT better than people (particularly radio stations) have been giving him credit for, and as a result of his superior songwriting skills, it's *well* worth hearing this album.

"Skyline" is a HIGHLY memorable pop song similar to something Donovan could have created, and the crying and soothing guitar playing and beautifully sung vocal melody makes this song a clear winner in my mind. "Junior Cadillac" has a great jazzy section reminiscent of Chicago perhaps, and "Milk Cow" is a slightly hilarious take on the blues with, once again, highly enjoyable vocals and arrangements.

Ignoring this wonderful artist because you're supposed to follow the false belief he only had one good song would be a mistake of gigantic proportions. Get this album as soon as possible.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Moore on June 7, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I had this album in vinyl back when.

Spirit in the Sky is a classic Rock must have. Not really typical of the rest of Mr. Greenbaum's work as I see it. Norman Greenbaum has a quirky kind of appeal when I am in the right mood.

Spirit in the Sky is my favorite cut. Rather than get it on some compilation album I opted to get the full CD. Which also gives you the bonus Spirit in the Sky demo version and Save Me for a Rainy Day.

I was glad to revisit Milk Cow and Good Lookin' Woman.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jude pepper on October 10, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
it's one of those songs that should've gotten old by now but somehow managed retain it's punch. somehow it continues to create the impression that Jesus Christ is the hippest, rockin'est dude out there. (even if said impression does only last about four minutes.) in short, it's one of those cases of creator overshadowed by creation.
there's no point in denying that the title track was destined to be the one that got the world's attention - it is indeed the pick of this litter - but there's enough other good stuff here, enough more to Norman Greenbaum, for one to actually bemoan his one-hit wonder status. all in all, it's a delightfully quirky and unpredictable record.
interviewed for the liner notes, Greenbaum postulates that his lack of a signature "sound" may account for his lack of staying power. sure enough, it is difficult to know just where to classify his work. there's elements of rock, folk, country, psychadelia, motown, ragtime, and even jugband. (not so surprising, since Greenbaum was the leader of Dr. West's Medicine Show & Junk Band, of "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago" fame. so technically he's a TWO-hit wonder.) but then, another thing he says in said liner notes is that he thrives on nonconformity and coming out of left field.
there's a similar fluctation in his subject matter. he can give us sincere love odes like "Marcy" and "Alice Bodine," but there are other times when he comes of as a quirky musical goofball: "Chocolate Milk" is a love letter addressed directly to the beverage. "Good-Lookin' Woman" finds a lothario bragging about having money to spend on her. "Canned Ham" tells of an impatient fellow begging his significant other to purchase such a ham for him already. (if the joke doesn't make sense, consider that Greenbaum is Jewish.
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