Sunday, September 24, 2006

The significance of Sardonicus

Sardonicus comes from my record collection. The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus was the fourth and most consistent LP from Spirit, and the last featuring the original lineup of Randy California, Jay Ferguson, Mark Andes, John Locke, and Ed Cassidy. On their previous albums, Spirit had established a psychedelic jazz-rock sound that was in some ways ahead of its time. Yet they could also rock out, as they showed on their only Top 40 hit, "I Got A Line On You".

Dr. Sardonicus could be seen as one of the last great psychedelic albums, or one of the first great prog-rock albums of the 70's. On Sardonicus, Spirit manages to incorporate jazz touches within their psychedelic rock framework. Also, this was overall the band's most solidly written collection of songs. The album contained no big pop hits, but "Nature's Way", "Animal Zoo", "Mr.Skin", and "Nothin' To Hide" received plenty of airplay during the glory days of progressive FM radio. Dr. Sardonicus sold poorly at first, but over the years gained stature and became a rock classic.

There was also a movie, Mr. Sardonicus, a sci-fi thriller from the early 60's starring William Castle, which I've never seen. That movie was based in turn on "Sardonicus", a short story by sci-fi writer Ray Russell originally published in Playboy. (Thanx to Emphyrio for the tip.)

This all came about for two reasons. First, when I originally got into the blogosphere, everybody who hung around Kos and Atrios seemed to have a cool handle, and I wanted one as well - Sardonicus was the first thing to come to mind. Also, when I'm on the machine at work (working the graveyard shift leaves plenty of time to kill) I'd rather my employers not be able to trace this stuff back to me, although they probably could if they really wanted to.

Sometimes I wonder if "Sardonicus" was the best choice of handles - I googled "Dr. Sardonicus" a while back and didn't like some of what I saw - a couple of hard-core conservatives use the name, as well as a couple of Sardonici who for lack of a better word could be described as perverts. But this is what I'm stuck with. I may one day revert to my real name - at least it's original, and if you Google around, there's still a post or two using my name floating around from the early early days. For right now, I've built something of a rep, so why not ride it out and see where it goes.