Robert Walter calls his instrumental heavy organ music "soul-jazz," but that ignores the strong funk element ever-present on all of his albums. This one is no exception, as the opening track, "Adelita," charges out with Walter's Jimmy Smith/Jack McDuff-styled keyboards, driving saxophonist Tim Green into a roaring solo. For this recording, made live in a New Orleans studio with crisp sound, Walter chose top musicians to help the vibe, such as drummers Johnny Vidacovich and Galactic's Stanton Moore, along with bassist James Singleton. The music is baked in the New Orleans groove, with doses of the Meters, Galactic, and Dr. John mixed in. Walter pushes the sonic envelope by shifting into slightly experimental waters during parts of "(Smells Like) Dad's Drunk Again," but he never strays too far afield.
The set that made Cray a pop star, despite its enduring blues base. Cray's smoldering stance on "Smoking Gun" and "Right Next Door" rendered him the first sex symbol to emerge from the blues field in decades, but it was his innovative expansion of the genre itself that makes this album a genuine 1980s classic. "Nothing but a Woman" boasts an irresistible groove pushed by the Memphis Horns and some metaphorically inspired lyrics, while "I Wonder" and "Guess I Showed Her" sizzle with sensuality.
Robert Walter hails from the Greyboy academy of jazz. Spirit of '70 is a solid outing for him, but the funk/jazz legend Gary Bartz steals the show. On tracks like "Corey's Snail and Slug Death," Bartz plays with restraint, frothing with fresh ideas and confidently reaffirming his status as an underrated jazz giant. "Volcanic Acne" is the most cohesive track on the album and shows just how exciting Walter's playing can be when he's inspired. Walter's desire to re-create the "'70s spirit" unfortunately fails to reinvent it.