Every year has its flukes but this is one of the more inexplicable – unknowns before and since, amiable psych revivalists by the look of their discography, scoring a massive international hit with this unexceptional cover. Everyone I knew hated it, but even so I suspect it was one for the kids, powered along by Doctor’s big-haired visual hook – part Arthur Brown, part Roy Wood, all panto.
The band turn “Spirit In The Sky” into a glam stomper at the expense of its witchy campfire atmosphere, closing the gap between ’70 and ’73 to produce a mulch of hand-me-down seventiesness. But their approach could have worked – what kills it is the biscuit tin drums and particularly Doctor’s polite, diffident voice. Aptly for a song about the afterlife, the three hit versions of “Spirit In The Sky” make a kind of reverse Divine Comedy, and here we are in purgatory.