Monday, February 07, 2022

The Spirit of Christmas - Lies to Live By (ProgRock Canada 1974)

Size: 106 MB
Bitrate: 320
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Source: Japan SHM-CD Remaster
Artwork Included

In 1969, Bob BRYDEN (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Rich RICHTER (drums, percussion), Robert BULGER (lead guitar), and Tyler RAIZENNE (bass) joined forces in Oshawa, Ontario to become a band known as CHRISTMAS. After releasing two psychedelic albums under that name, the band recruited vocalist and pianist Preston WYNN and made a slight adjustment to their name to become THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS also releasing a new album called "Lies to Live By". This change was accompanied by a change in style to a more eclectic style.

The music on the only album released under this name is a combination of hard, guitar-driven rock with folk and progressive rock elements added in with a healthy dose of fusion to become a band with a more varied and accessible style. 

The album itself has mostly been forgotten over the years, however, it was reissued in 1999 and since then has managed to become a sought after gem thanks to the excellent progressive sound that the band had created. Yes, it is an odd name for a band, but the music speaks for itself.

Lies to Live By is essentially the third album release by the Canadian band Christmas. After the release of the Heritage album, they were beset with management and label problems over the direction of the band's next album. The music scene in Canada was in disarray and bands such as April Wine, the Guess Who, BTO, and Chilliwack had hits with commercial hard rock songs. The Heritage album was a start in the right direction and the label wanted the band to continue with hard rock but make it more radio friendly. 

Christmas had other ideas about where their music was heading. In 1973, a new album was recorded that was a radical change from the hard rock sound of Heritage. The album ended up being tied up in legal wrangles and was not released until 1975 when the band decided on a name change to the Spirit of Christmas to avoid legal complications associated with the "Christmas" name and to release the album. This time out (The Spirit Of) Christmas went totally toward a guitar-fronted progressive sound complete with Mellotron, a chamber orchestra, special effects, intricate piano work, and lush backing choruses. In the similar vein of such acts as Genesis, Gentle Giant, and Yes, Lies to Live By was a total departure in sound from anything recorded by a Canadian band to date. 

The six songs on the album are broken into conceptual chapters, each with a different theme that intertwines throughout the song while half of the songs clock in at close to nine minutes or more. The album was an instant hit with critics and progressive music fans worldwide. Despite the critical acclaim of the album, Daffodil Records was in trouble and the album did not receive the promotion and support it deserved. Soon after release of the album, the label folded and with it the hopes of (The Spirit Of) Christmas. 

Left without a label, the band also decided to call it a day and broke up. In the late '80s and '90s the Lies to Live By album became a highly sought after collector's item with originals changing hands for hundreds of dollars. As a direct result of the interest in the band's early albums, Christmas re-formed in the mid-'80s for a couple of local concerts. Still regarded as one of the best progressive rock albums to come out of Canada, this release by Unidisc is a straight reissue of the original album at a budget price complete with original artwork, but, unfortunately, it contains no bonus tracks.

Recorded at Manta Sound Studios, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, circa 1972-1974

Line-up / Musicians
◉ Preston Wynn - vocals, piano, Mellotron, guitar, organ
◉ Bob Bryden - rhythm guitar, composer
◉ Robert Bulger - lead guitar
◉ Tyler Raizenne - bass
◉ Rich Richter - drums, percussion

01. All the Wrong Roads (3:19)
02. Stay Dead Lazarus (4:06)
03. Graveyard Face / All Is Light (4:19)
04. War Story (8:53) :
- a. Ballad of Jack Boot
- b. Requiem-War's Peace
05. Factory (8:33)
- a. Where the People Are Made
- b. Everything's Under Control
06. Beyond the Fields We Know (11:26)
- a. Prelude (I Don't Know Where I Am)
- b. Thermopylae
- c. Heaven's Lost
- d. In Closing