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Mushroom - Early One Morning CD (album) cover

EARLY ONE MORNING

Mushroom

 

Prog Folk

3.66 | 23 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Any band from Ireland featuring a violin and frame drum is inevitably going to be classified as some sort of folk music. That’s because inevitably any band from Ireland with a fiddler and someone wielding a bodhrán is inevitably going to be playing jigs and reels. So much for stereotyping.

But if you can get past the obvious you’ll quickly see there is an awful lot of psychedelica on this record as well, along with not a little 70’s smooth rock pastiche. Although the band admittedly existed in the 70s I don’t get the impression they every intended to be a Teen Magazine heart-throb cover, even though some songs could lead to that presumption, particularly the slightly cheesy “Crying” and the very cheesy love ballad “Unborn Child”.

Beyond those tunes though there is some pretty good music here, and no actual reels as near as I can tell. Violinist Pat Collins does wail on the fiddle from time to time though, and whenever he does a jig seems to be about to break out as he warps notes furiously over the top of Aengus McNally’s power chord guitar work and Mike Power’s stilting harpsichord. These are really the best purely Irish tracks of the album in my opinion, so if you do have a chance at least check out “The Liathdan”, “Potters Wheel”, “Devil Among The Tailors” and “Drowsey Maggie”. And speaking of stereotypes, how’s that for an Irish fiddle album that includes both a reference to the Devil as well as one to a lass named Maggie in the context of hopping in the sack?

The two overall highlights are “Johnny the Jumper” and the closing “King of Alba”. With “Johnny the Jumper” the band manages to feature the fiddle without an overt jig and without overpowering the other artists’ contributions, which results in a rather powerful instrumental that both keeps your toe tapping and also provides a very well-placed transition point in the album between a rather languid lull and the drinking/dancing section. The sequencing of this record is itself an interesting study, but one I’ll leave to someone more adroit at understanding and explaining those sorts of decisions.

I can say with confidence though that “King of Alba” should have been the opening track, not the closer. Had the band done this and featured it as a single I wonder if they would have lasted longer, or at least made some decent cash. Who knows? Like “Johnny the Jumper” this one is energetic, fairly polished and with a very balanced bend of fiddle, guitar and keyboards so the Irish influence is obvious but not overpowering. Unlike ‘Johnny’ this one has vocals though. I haven’t mentioned the vocals on the album yet and suppose I should. Although all five members are credited with singing on this record, I believe the majority comes from fiddler Pat Collins and keyboardist Michael Power. None of these guys can sing all that well though, which isn’t really that big of a deal since there are a few all- instrumental songs and long instrumental breaks even on the tracks that do have vocals.

I’ve read glowing accounts of this album and think that reissued obscure 70s prog rock sometimes gets swept up in lore and hype and tends to be overrated. I think there’s just a little of that at work here as well, but in the end this is a very good album despite a couple of tacky tracks in “Crying” and “Unborn Child”. Despite those (and since some folks like that sort of thing) I’m going to err on the side of caution and go with four stars (since 3.7 rounds up), and give this a warm recommendation to violin, Irish, and happy acid-folk fans, as well as to people who like to dance and drink (and dance after drinking).

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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