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Spriguns (Of Tolgus) - Rowdy Dowdy Day CD (album) cover


Spriguns (Of Tolgus)


Prog Folk

2.00 | 1 ratings

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2 stars After having this album on my wish list for several years now I have to say finally getting my hands on it was rather a disappointment. Much like its follow-up 'Jack with a Feather' this isn't much more than a collection of traditional and mostly British folk tunes delivered in a folk-rock style that was already falling out of favor as the late-sixties folk revival waned both in Britain and New England.

The original issue of this recording was on a self-released cassette in a very limited edition. It's as rare as Faraway Folk's 'The Battle of the Dragons' (also on cassette and also on my wish list), but probably not as rare as Godspeed You! Black Emporer's cassette debut. Doesn't matter either way because I seriously doubt most people reading this will ever lay eyes on any of them. Fortunately Kissing Spell made this one of their first reissues in 1992, on vinyl no less. But that copy is out-of-print now too, and pretty weak as it appears the cover art is a cheap copy of the original cassette's, the inside foldout is plain and unadorned and the liner notes are sparse to say the least.

A track-by-track detail of the songs isn't really necessary. Suffice to say they are all traditional folk standards with the exception of "Troopers Nag" which I believe is a Maddy Prior tune and done better by her even today; and "Scotia Reel" which is just what its title says and pleasant though unoriginal.

The cassette version caught the ear of Steeleye Span's Tim Hart who helped the band secure a record deal and produced 'Jack with a Feather'. Not surprising really since the music is so similar to that of his former band. But the real problem here is that the music doesn't expand on the idea of folk-rock beyond the scores of Span and Fairport Convention clones who preceded them. And then there's the issue of timing, with the band hitting their stride at possibly the worst time for a folk-rock band as pop, disco and heavy metal were all ascending n popularity while folk acts were becoming banished to coffee houses and renaissance fairs.

A couple of the songs would also be recorded for 'Jack', most notably the opening "Let No Man Steal Your Thyme" which I imagine was a live show favorite as it was for many of their contemporaries.

Rick Thomas is quite good on violin and has that knack of balancing skill with an edgy and slightly raw feel like so many great folk violinists, and the mandolin playing is both abundant and charming. But in the end this is a fairly tepid folk-rock album with too much emphasis on vocals and not enough on musically innovation. The one exception is an extended version of "Matty Groves" that features great interplay between violin and mandolin in the lulls between Ms. Morton's vocals as well as some playful bass playing especially toward the end. This is as close as the band would get to a progressive sound until they managed to pen some original tunes on their swan song album 'Time Will Pass' six years later. It's not enough.

You're not likely to ever run across this album even if you look really hard, and that's just as well as you'll inevitably be disappointed in the end. Nothing particularly wrong with the music and if I could pick up a copy cheaply in a cutout bin I might be tempted to slap on another star; but as it is I have to say this one is for serious collectors only and s rates only two out of five stars. Not much more to say.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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