Spiritual Beggars’ third disc Mantra III (1998) is a well-crafted halfway point between the psychedelia of Another Way to Shine (1996) and the hard rock/grunge of Ad Astra (2000). For this release, I think the closest point of comparison is The Battle Rages On- era Deep Purple as the addition of prominent organ / mellotron from newcomer Per Wiberg adds a “Jon Lord” feel to the songs. Adding to the Deep Purple comparison, vocalist Spice utilized a gruff “Ian Astubry” vocal style on Another Way to Shine but leans more toward clean bluesy leads this time out which sound similar to Ian Gillan.
The disc starts out on an off-beat note with “Superbossanova” which is an instrumental bossa nova piece (as if it would be something else given the name of the track) before kicking into “Homage to the Betrayed”, which is a hard rock number built around a riff-based groove and a big bottom end. This track is fairly indicative of the overall sound of the disc as it has more energy and drive than Another Way to Shine and there are shades of the arena rock (“Homage to the Betrayed”, “Land of Prozac”) that took full form on Ad Astra. Breaking up the core sound of the disc, in addition to the opening track, is “Inside Charmer”, which starts with a bossa nova intro before going into a Rod Evans style 60’s psychedelic stoner track. The band really hits their groove on the numbers that sounds as though they could have come from Deep Purple’s catalogue. Tracks like “Euphoria” and “Sad Queen Boogie” make me shocked that I never heard this disc at the time it was originally released. The band even pulls off an extended Deep Purple-like instrumental jam on the track “Mushroom Tea Girl” and doesn’t let the track sag at any point over its 8+ minute running time.
The original issue of this disc was 12 tracks (54 minutes) but addition of three bonus tracks to this reissue takes the running time to 70 minutes. “The Band is Playing” is a Southern boogie number, “Redwood Blues” is a guitar-based blues grind and the disc closes with an alternative mix of "Euphoria".