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The Morrigan - Spirit Of The Soup CD (album) cover

SPIRIT OF THE SOUP

The Morrigan

 

Prog Folk

3.06 | 10 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars The Morrigan rides out

The year after their formation in 1984, the UK band The Morrigan released this debut album. The music here is basically classic British Electric Folk with female and some male vocals in the tradition of 60's Fairport Convention and 70's Steeleye Span but with a more Celtic touch. There is indeed little to indicate the year of release apart maybe from the clear sound quality and the discrete keyboard sounds. The rockier and more eclectic and progressive sides of the band was to develop over the following years, but at this early stage the band's relation to Progressive Rock was not very strong. It is indeed informative to compare the evolution of The Morrigan over the late 80's and early 90's with that of Steeleye Span in the early to mid 70's. Like Steeleye Span, The Morrigan too started out closer towards the pure Folk end of the spectrum and then moved towards the rockier side of Folk Rock and became more eclectic and progressive. But while the evolution of Steeleye Span was more gradual, the changes in The Morrigan's sound was more sudden. Also, just like Steeleye Span, The Morrigan too did not feature a drummer in the beginning. Thus there are no drums on this first album and the sound here is based on the acoustic and electric guitar playing of Collin Masson, the vocals of Cathy Alexander and the electric bass of Cliff Eastabrook. In addition, the trio plays keyboards, recorders and autoharp. Alexander has a lovely voice sometimes reminding of Sandy Denny and Masson was already a competent guitarist at the time, but the sound they produce comes across as rather anonymous compared to their later efforts.

As far as I understand, some of these compositions are traditional while others are original. They alternate between acoustically based numbers and electrically based numbers, and between male and female vocals, but almost nothing here is really rocking. The Celtic sounds bring with it an almost New Age-like and "relaxing" feel at times. The three minute Agincourt is an exception here though, this Mike Oldfield-like instrumental with soaring electric guitar solos backed by keyboards points toward future of the band. The two and a half minute Off The Rails also stands out as being more whimsical and cheerful than the rest. I assume it is Masson taking lead vocals on this one. The quality of the material is very even with no weak tracks as such, but also nothing that really stands out as being great. Overall, I find this album wholly pleasant and enjoyable but also not very memorable or original. It's a good Folk Rock album, but nothing really special. Considered as a Prog Folk album it is decent, but it would probably disappoint many Prog fans with the wrong kind of expectations.

The conclusion is that Spirit Of The Soup is a high quality album of its kind but it is of a kind that should appeal more to the Folk Rock community that to the Prog community. I can recommend this album to fans and followers of British Folk Rock but not all Prog fans will find this interesting. There are certainly hints here of what was to come on later albums, but the band would go on to do more interesting things later on.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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