fredag 17 juli 2015

Spirogyra - Old Boot Wine (Progressive Folkrock UK 1972)

290:- (24-Bit Limited Remaster Edition. Deras 2:a album från 1972. Nu sedan länge utgången utgåva, svår att hitta.)

Well, finally I have been lucky enough to track down an LP of this highly coveted album, however, its reputation exceeds its worth - to an extent. We are greeted with 'Dangerous Dave', which rocks out nicely, with a brief melancholic bit in the middle and back again. Hardly the stuff a prog-head looks for but the track is well composed. Van Allen's Belt is in a more sombre mood with acoustic guitar and piano. 'Runaway' strikes me as the most proggy piece on the album. 

It features 3 distinctive movements, some organ and lovely piano playing, vocals from Mark Francis and the beautiful Barbara Gaskin, and some bars in 7/8 !! Starting out uptempo, but finishing in a dreamy way with Gaskin's gorgeous voice - a well performed proggy-folk epic in under 5 minutes ! 'Grandad' is again a sombre piece of fragile beauty featuring a delicate Cockerham with his acoustic guitar, backed by Cusack's string arrangement. 'Wings of Thunder' is another rocker which is pleasant but without any 'twists and turns'. 

Side 2 opens up with the only long number, 'World's Eyes', of which the first half of the song recalls a bit of the eccentricities of their debut, 'St. Radigunds', containing a brief moment of manic energy which reminds me of zeuhl (don't ask how I get this, but it does), hyperactive bass from Borrill, some semi-tone riffs and strange vocals. The second half of the song settles into more conventional territory but still holds the attention. 

Most 'standard' track I find is 'Don't Let it Get you', a non-offensive ballad which doesn't out-stay its welcome. 'Disraeli's Problem' features more dreamy vocals from Gaskin, with mellow sections that I enjoy immensely. Last track, 'A Canterbury Tale', has a sombre first half which is beautiful, finishing with a multi-tracked Gaskin vocal backing with Cockerham singing over the top. A fine album for sure, but not quite the masterpiece I was hoping for.

Formed in Canterbury, England in 1970, Spirogyra was one of a group of young progressive folk bands signed to B&C Records at the same time as Steeleye Span. The band was formed by writer Martin Cockerham, vocalist Barbara Gaskin, Julian Cusack and Steve Borrill. Dave Mattacks played drums on their debut album in 1971. The sound on St. Radigund’s and the follow-up Old Boot Wine was similar to early Strawbs but also drew on the progressive ideas of the Incredible String Band. The songs sounded whimsically English and Gaskin’s voice gave them a pure, unsullied air. 

The final Spirogyra album, 1973’s Bells, Boots And Shambles, was recorded by Cockerham and Gaskin alone. Gaskin went on to work with Hatfield And The North and enjoyed a surprise UK chart-topper in 1981, in partnership with Dave Stewart, with a cover version of Lesley Gore’s ‘It’s My Party’. (NB: Not to be confused with the US jazz rock group Spyro Gyra.)

Martin Cockerham - vocals, guitar
 Steve Borrill - bass
 Barbara Gaskin - vocals
 Marc Francis - vocals, guitar, keyboards

Guest musicians:
 Dave Mattacks - drums
 Julian Cusack - violin, keyboards
 Alan Laing - cello
 Rick Biddulph - mandoline

01. Dangerous Dave (4:16) 
02. Van Halen's Belt (2:35) 
03. Runaway (4:55) 
04. Grandad (3:23) 
05. Wings of Thunder (3:08) 
06. World's Eyes (7:31) 
07. Don't Let It Get You (4:28) 
08. Disraeli's Problem (4:15) 
09. A Canterbury Tale (4:03)

German Single 1972