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Supersister - Spiral Staircase CD (album) cover

SPIRAL STAIRCASE

Supersister

 

Canterbury Scene

3.15 | 44 ratings

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Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Supersister's 'Spiral Staircase' album from 1974 may not be in-keeping with their previous Canterburian offerings, but is every bit as delightful and enjoyable an experience. Opening with a re-hash of a previous idea (inspired by/based on the single 'Spiral Staircase', found on the compilation LP 'Superstarshine') the album continues with a freaky concept of a 'schizophrenic spiral staircase gnome', with very quirky music accompanying the whimsical story, which on the first track is narrated by flautist Sacha Van Geest (bless him).

The first serious stop in this adventure is 'Dangling Dingdongs', a lengthy, complex jam which is a cleverly composed rhythmic idea comprising of an up-front upright Bass riff supported by some sensational drumming, which I can't help being reminded of John Marshall's style, especially during his tenure with Soft Machine - a very impressive piece of music here. 'Sylvers Song (Groan, Stamp, Shock, Hoot) has some silly voices and vocals, backed up by some amusing, carnival-like music. The sound of a Mandolin heralds the upcoming track 'Cookies, Teacups, Buttercups', an arrangement for a set of Bagpipes !!

Side 2 of my precious LP starts with a bizarre take on calypso music, the track titled 'Gi Ga Go (Gollumble Jafers)', and lyrically states that 'We are one, we are schizo, We are two, she is schizo.......' seems like there was some sort of fascination with the schizophrenic condition. Amusing, if you aren't Bi-Polar. This is followed by some sped- up voices (resembling chipmunks on helium) telling us the story of a Scotsman, an Englishman and a Chinaman who are in prison, and they try to escape, whilst all the while there is insane shrieks of laughter. This section always has me in hysterics. 'It Had to Be' sounds like a sentimental track utilising piano, some shimmering organ and a xylophone. 'Nosey Parkers' is as close to a 'normal' pop-song as the album gets - clavinet as the feature instrument and jams hard during the second half, replete with some saxophone playing from who knows who (Charlie Mariano, Elton Dean??). There are no credits stating the players on the album so it's difficult to say. Album closer, We Feel So Strange, or actually, 'We Steel So Frange' starts out in a humourous setting, but eventuates into a most beautiful, serene, peaceful, gentle (you get the idea) feel-good passage which sounds like pure magic to these ears, and is the closest thing to a faithful Canterbury sound on the album (it actually recalls Kevin Ayers' track 'Margaret') and thus ends this wonderful and engaging offering, which is every bit as unique as their earlier albums, but of course it's not to be taken that seriously. 4 stars.

Tom Ozric | 4/5 |

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