Spirit – Ed Cassidy at left
Listen/Download – Spirit – I Got a Line On You
It was with great sadness last week that the world heard about the passing of the mighty Ed Cassidy.
Cassidy, who was 89 and was best known as one of the founders of Spirit has been playing drums professionally for more than 70 years.
With his ever-bald pate and his black wardrobe, Cassidy never really seemed to age over the years.
He got his start playing jazz and pop in dance bands, eventually gigging with cats like Art Pepper and Gerry Mulligan.
He co-founded the Rising Sons in 1964 with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, though he was eventually replaced by Kevin Kelley after breaking his hand.
The year later he founded the Little Red Roosters with his then 14 year old stepson Randy California, the group that morphed into Spirit in 1967.
If you haven’t heard anything but the hits, the first few Spirit albums, filled with jazz and world music tinged psychedelia are pure genius.
Oddly enough, I wouldn’t discover those albums until the Sony ‘Time Circle’ collection which was issued in 1991.
The song that I grew up on – the one that blew my mind the very first time I heard it on FM radio, probably a few years after it was originally released in 1968 – is the mighty ‘I Got a Line On You’.
Written by Randy California, ‘I Got a Line On You’ is a juggernaut that gains steam consistently through its roughly two and a half minutes.
The opening piano/guitar riff never fails to set my hair on end, mainly because I know what’s coming, that being a severe headrush of a chorus.
Much like the Kinks’ ‘All Day and All of the Night’, the chorus of ‘I Got a Line On You’ seems to test the limits of the recording studio, with the bass, guitar, piano and Cass’s drums expanding like a mushroom cloud in your ears.
I was probably no older than 10 when this song drilled into my head, causing it to shake every which way.
I don’t recall when I picked up the 45 you see before you (an Epic reissue, the OG is on Ode) but it’s probably been at least 20 years.
I’ve played this 45 out a couple of times,mixing it in with soul and garage stuff, and it never fails to get people moving, because it is so bad-ass.
It was a little over 20 years ago when I saw the then-current version of Spirit (with Cass and Randy) play ‘I Got a Line On You’ on the Dennis Miller Show (yes, the now-right wing crank had a short-lived late night show), and even then, the song brought a tear to my eye.
It’s that good.
I hope you dig it too.