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Eclectic Prog

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars Mellotrons addict this is an orgy and should provide you with many orgasms. Except for the drummer (later in Dire Strait) I don't know what happened to these guys but it is a shame they only made one album .
Report this review (#18666)
Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Housed in a majestic triple gatefold (I purchased the beautiful Akarma vynil reissue -but be warned: Akarma often doesn't use the original master tapes...) this album is a mistery: how could they do only one album? Maybe victims of the Neon label failure? Who knows. The only thing I'm sure of this is a masterpiece (and it's no suprprise for me, being a fanatic lover of mellotron). I wouldn't label this as a prog rock album, it's simply beautiful popular music.
Report this review (#18667)
Posted Sunday, March 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
Steve Hegede
4 stars I'm pretty sure that alot of people are familiar with the mellotron hype surrounding this album. You've probably read statements like "Soaked in mellotron!", and "3 mellotrons on every track!". Well, don't fall for it. Although most of the tracks have mellotron, the band was actually well-rounded, and consisted of acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. Basically, don't expect anything similar to KING CRIMSON's "Mars". SPRING's music is mostly song-oriented with an early 70s proto-prog vibe, and emphasizes vocals. You could compare this band to FANTASY, but FANTASY are a bit more complex. That being said, SPRING produced some great music. The first 5 tracks are high-quality if you enjoy early-70s rock. Most listeners will instantly notice the singer's unique, and charismatic, voice. I have to also mention that the bonus track from an unfinished 2nd album are high-quality. Overall, I recommend SPRING to fans of early seventies English rock.
Report this review (#18668)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is one of the best "Proto pop-progressive" albums in the UK, which arrives quite late in the course of 1971 (by regarding of such " ELP's prog debut album" and also the album "Fragile" by YYES, which were more refined, being a couple of "true progressive and more mature jewels"); but if you are fond of bands such as for instance MOODY BLUES and BARCLAY JAMES & HARVEST, you should appreciate also this ensemble, featuring Pique Withers (you will find him with DIRE STRAITS) on drums and glockenspiel too. A cult band performing a mellow "Proto-pop progressive" album, becoming a classic after a few years. Along with other bands like GRACIOUS or FAMILY in their less "easy" arrangements, they shared all together the "UK pop progressive scene" of the early seventies. Actually its righter score should be "3 stars and an half" at least, but I don't like this genre, in the vein also of bands such as FANTASY (the authors of "Paint a Picture" or today the modern retro-band from Italy "MAN OF LAKE", and in a lot of circumstances the Sweden ensemble of "LANBERK" as well!!)
Report this review (#18669)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars OK so SPRING wouldn't be what you call a complex prog rock band. They were a song- oriented prog-band that's not too far off from the MOODY BLUES. But for those wanting more Mellotron, you can't go wrong with this album, as three guys are credited to playing it (vocalist Pat Moran, guitarist Ray Martinez, and keyboardist Kips Brown). The rest of the band consisted of bassist Adrian "Bone" Maloney and drummer Pique Withers, yes the same Pique Withers who became a member of DIRE STRAITS (who then went by Pick Withers). All the hype of three Mellotrons are true, according to the CD reissue I have (the long-out-of-print US reissue by The Laser's Edge) claims that the only overdubbing was acoustic guitar. "The Prisoner", "Grail", "Shipwreck Soldier", "Golden Fleece" and "Gazing" are all prime example of early, Mellotron-heavy prog. "Boats" is an acoustic piece that's more folk-like, while "Song to Absent Friends (The Island)" is a piano-oriented ballad that bears more than a passing resemblance to what Elton John was doing at the time (the Spring album was produced by manager Gus Dudgeon who also produced and managed Elton John).

Certainly this album has its detractors. The pace seems the same throughout, and Pat Moran's singing is an acquired taste. But I don't care if the music doesn't have the complexity of GENTLE GIANT (or the Swiss prog band ISLAND with their 1977 album "Pictures") to make great music, as SPRING proves that. The old LP was released on RCA/Neon, with the triple gatefold (like YES' "Going For the One"), and has became quite a collector's item. It's great that the Laser's Edge, and later Repertoire in Germany had reissued this gem. Both reissues also contain three bonus cuts from a never completed second album from '72. Those songs were "Fool's Gold", "Hendre Mews" and "A Word Full of Whispers". At this point, the band dropped the Mellotron altogether, and let the Hammond organ dominate. Bassist Adrian "Bone" Maloney also left, replaced by Peter Decindis. These three songs are nowhere as bad as many claim they are. They make perfectly fine early organ-driven prog. Great album for those who like the not so complex early British prog.

<<< 4 1/2 stars >>>

Report this review (#18670)
Posted Saturday, July 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
Carl floyd fan
5 stars Very good, little know prog rock from the early 70s. The vocals and instruments are beautiful and this music is very pleasing to the ear. Not overly complex but than again, thats not a bad thing. I would consider this more folky than art-rock. But than again, I don't like art-rock being a sub genre of prog seeing as music is a sub genre of art, not the other way around.
Report this review (#18671)
Posted Saturday, September 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'd like to assign "five stars" to this fantastic CD, but I have to pay attention to my l feelings. I bought it many years ago, and when I put it on my CD player, my soul trembled. It's one of the best kept secret in progressive music. These musicians have created an incredible, misterious and melancholic mood in every song. The three mellotrons, with their melodies, reach the listener heart. No more words; please, if you find it, have it !!!
Report this review (#18672)
Posted Friday, October 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars This is a one-shot band that released the album "Spring" in 1971, in '92 the USA prog rock label Laser's Edge put it on CD. That re-release contains 3 previously unreleased bonus tracks. The sound of Spring is a 'Mellotron's heaven', no less than three members use this marvellous instrument! So it isn't no surprise that this album is loaded with Mellotron (flute - and violin-sound) but it doesn't harm the compositions, there's no overkill. All 8 songs from the original LP from '71 sound warm and melodic with strong vocals, many floods of organ and sensitive electric guitar work and beautiful twanging 12-string guitar play. To my surprise, the 3 bonus tracks doesn't contain Mellotron. The emphasis in these songs is on the organ in fluent rhythms with nice, slightly shifting moods. Certainly one of the gems, beloved by the 'connaiseurs'. By the way, many years later drummer Pique Withers became famous with DIRE STRAITS.
Report this review (#18673)
Posted Saturday, November 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I find it amazing how many groups there were on the cusp of something as big as the development of an entire genre of music. Progressive rock was just starting to kick it into high gear in 1971 and bands like Spring were working on important recordings like this self- titled set.

At first, I was not sure what the picture of the dead soldier meant but after listening to the albums lyrics, it makes more sense. The album certainly has a theme. "The Prisoner," "Fool's Gold," "Shipwrecked Soldier," "Golden Fleece," and "Grail" certainly have an explorer war like premise.

The tone created by this talented group on this outstanding effort needs a much harder look than ever before. Perhaps the reasons why you have not heard too much of this band is that giving credit were credit was due has been part of the problem.not an all together unusual circumstance in a business full of unfairness and corruption. Part of this entire process of recollection for us all interested in learning more about some of the pioneers of prog-rock is discovering important contributors such as Spring.

Lead vocalist Pat Moran's style is reminiscent of the dreamy and smooth vocal engagements of the legendary Jon Anderson of Yes. I use Anderson as a benchmark for vocalist in this genre for obvious reasons. His influence can be heard everywhere in rock music from past to present. Spring's music is tasteful with compositions featuring elegant keyboards and guitars and equally powerfully intoxicating measures of the same when needed to emphasize the lyrics and give listeners chunks of instrumental passages that have become typical for this type of music. This reissue includes original artwork with gatefold sleeves housing two high quality pressed 180-Gram vinyl LPs.

Report this review (#18675)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4+ for this very enjoyable album! Why they didn't do anything else, apart from an obscure, apparently delayed second album? Indeed, whatever happened to them (except the drummer went years later to Dire Straits)?? Mellotron-lovers, get this at once. The sound is simply lovely: not the dark nightmare world of Crimso's starless court or whatever Mellotron brings to your mind at first. SPRING is poppy in a very good sense. Slightly light and song-oriented but still vintage prog. It gives me a pleasurable warm feeling to listen to these songs. And Pat Moran's vocals are a perfect pair to the Mellotron-driven sound: emotional and a bit wailing, like 'crooners' of 50's and 60's but not overblown or too sentimental. I tried to think of a similar voice but didn't come closer than Cat Stevens or James Blunt.

Almost each song is a highlight of its own - except perhaps one or two (and bonus tracks didn't impress me either). But maybe this album is a bit too sweet and cheesy to give five stars as I originally did...

Report this review (#45547)
Posted Monday, September 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Fantastic album.. very difficult to get hold of.. Can only be purchased from a German Company called Repertoire Records.

Excellent stuff, anyone who enjoys good prog will adore this.

The vocalist Pat Moran is now doing well in his career in production, amongst his credits include Iggy Pop, Robert Plant, Lou Gramm and Eddie Bickall as well as many others.

Ray Martinez is now a session guitarist for countless artistes.

Kipps Brown plays in local bands around the Leicester area.

Adrian Maloney has retired from the music business.

Pick Withers was doing session work after leaving Spring with the likes of Bert Jansch, Prelude, Magna Carta, Dave Edmunds and Chris Jagger before joining Dire Straits in 1978.

Hope this helps.

Report this review (#59755)
Posted Thursday, December 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This is an odd, obscure band with a sketchy history. Apparently the original album came housed in a tri-fold cover that was pretty impressive. I saw a copy on eBay once, but the only copy I've been able to get a hold of is a Repetoire reissue CD from a few years back. There's a couple other reissues floating around the web as well, but be careful choosing one as there was apparently another band called Spring in the early 70's that was associated with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, and some of the links I've found mistakenly show this album cover under that album's listing.

I spent some time researching and was able to find a few bios of the band and reviews of their only album, but much of the material is clearly second- or third- hand information, and much of it seems to have simply been copied from other sources. The band apparently hails from Leicester England, and formed some time in 1970. The album was produced by early Elton John producer Gus Dudgeon, and was released on RCA's Neon label, which I had never heard of before I came across this band. The album features three Mellotron players, although it doesn't really sound all that awash with the unusual sound that instrument tends to make.

And I wouldn't say these guys were exactly experts of the device. They have been compared to the Moody Blues, and I can hear the resemblance, although I would say they seem more like what the Moody Blues would have sounded like when they were still playing in their parent's basements or high school gyms, or wherever it was they played before they became really good. Also, if you imagine Justin Hayward with a lisp imitating Boz Skaggs, you'll get something of an idea what Spring singer Pat Moran sounds like. I've listened to this album 25 or 30 times since I bought it, and I've gotten to the point where his voice isn't a distraction anymore, but it is definitely an acquired taste.

Two things are usually pointed out in reviews of this album: one, that the band claimed the only overdubs in the studio were of the guitar player's tracks, which if true is a very impressive statement about the band's abilities in managing to keep the temperamental Mellotrons running; and two, that drummer Pique (Pick) Withers would later become the only really famous musician of the group, as a member of Dire Straits.

Apparently the band toured the UK as the opening act of the Velvet Underground in 1971. As near as I can piece together, that must have been the VU's tour in the fall of 1971 after "Loaded" was released and Lou Reed had left the group, so that's kind of interesting.

There may or may not be another album that was recorded by the group before they disbanded in 1972 - it kind of depends on how accurate some of the various web sites with pieces of the band's history are. There are three tracks at the end of the CD reissue, although the keyboards on these are organ and a little piano, but no Mellotron.

As for the original eight tracks, there's nothing about them or the album that connects any kind of critical dots as far as the history of progressive music is concerned. Other than Withers, and some later studio and production credits for Moran and guitarist Ray Martinez, Spring doesn't seem to have any particularly impressive musical pedigree to their credit.

The songs are kind of interesting though, albeit very steeped in an early 70's sound.

"The Prisoner (Eight by Ten)" is definitely Mellotron-laden, although the tune is fairly simple and at times the keyboardists seem to be more experimenting with different sounds than following any kind of complex pattern. I have no idea what the song is about since Moran's voice is not only garbled and lispy, but has a strong British accent to boot. I think I made out "jumping coins that seem to laugh" and "eight by ten on the second floor, fumes that creep beneath the door", but that's about it. Who knows. There's nothing to make this song all that appealing, although after several dozen listens, it isn't irritating either, so there's that at least.

"Grail" is another slow, very 70's sounding tune, a but less Mellotron here and some mildly interesting guitar chords. There's a short chorus that gets repeated a lot ("nights go on when days pass by, storms blow up and down", but I can't make out the rest of the words. There's also a nice verse - "If inside of Hades I should fall", something. something. something. "could these things mean nothing to a fool", that's rather pleasant, I think, or maybe not - this could be a song about the apocalypse for all I know. There's a short Mellotron moment accented by the guitar at the end that's actually quite nice, but that's about it for this one.

"Boats" is a short acoustic work that doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the songs, kind of reminds me of some of the stuff of Elton John's "Honky-Tonk Chateau", or maybe a song from an old 'spaghetti-western' movie. It seems to be a song about a guy's women who took off. Think of it as a British progressive equivalent of Otis Redding's "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" and you'll get the picture - "I'm sitting and watching the boats on the river, the last train from the station takes you away.". Ends with a soft martial drum rhythm, which is kind of weird.

"Shipwrecked Soldier" starts off with a bit of an infantry march drum beat, possibly taking up where "Boats" left off, and then launches into some ambitious guitar work. This is the one song on the album that sounds like the band actually showed an active interest in the message, whatever that message is. I get the impression this one has something to do with wars and stuff like that. There's definitely a mention of governments, and ships in the mist, and men dressed in black. Selah.

"Golden Fleece" has something to do with disillusionment, not sure what though. Moran is really slurring his words by now, but the Mellotrons are pretty active and they make the song interesting at least. This one probably makes more sense to people who understand Greek mythology and its symbolism and all that.

By the time "Inside Out" rolls around, I can't understand anything Moran is singing anymore. The keyboards here sound more organ-like, and the drums are a bit more prevalent than elsewhere on the album, plus there's an interlude of what I assume is a Mellotron that sounds like a xylophone. Then again, maybe it's a xylophone.

"Song to Absent Friends" is the other Elton John-sounding tune on the album, mostly because the keyboards are just a plain old piano. This is clearly intended to be a sad song, as evidenced by the slow tempo and sad-sounded gargling Moran does in lieu of actual singing. It's a nice tune on the piano, though this probably would have been better as a purely instrumental song. I can't help but wonder if Michael Stipe found some inspiration in Pat Moran's vocal stylings when he recorded the first couple of R.E.M. albums. That would make sense.

The original album closed with "Gazing", which is marked by the absence of Moran's voice for nearly the first minute and a half. He seems to have cleansed his palette, as his articulation is somewhat better here, but I can still only make out about every fourth word. Something about turning pages, and taking paths, and deep sleep. Lots more Mellotron on this one, and also Martinez' guitar really starts to grow on you by now, kind of bluesy and also a bit improvisational at times.

The 'bonus' tracks on the CD are apparently from the aforementioned unreleased recordings. Moran sounds a lot like the guy in Amazing Blondel on these, but is still largely inarticulate. I'm spending a lot of time making fun of the guy's voice, but I have to admit it kind of grows on you if you think of it as another musical instrument in the band, and not as an actual human voice. "Fool's Gold" sounds like a kind of adventure tale of the 'Olde Englishe varietie'. "Hendre Mews" actually has some nice guitar licks that permeate the whole song, more aggressive than anything else the band has recorded here. The bonus tracks all feature some pretty good organ work as well. This is also apparently the longest song the band ever recorded, clocking in at over seven minutes.

The album closes with "A Word Full of Whispers", and it finds Moran at his most coherent, but also his most off-key. The chorus goes "today I turned on a friend, tomorrow I might choose my end", which seems both very hippy-like and also a bit disturbing. There's also a reference to Zachary Smith lying dead in the snow. I wonder if this is Dr. Zachary Smith, the oddball scientist of "Lost in Space" television show fame. Probably not.

So, I've worked over the infamous Spring prog-gem. All in all it was an interesting and not altogether unpleasant experience. I've been playing this CD every few days or so, mostly so I could work up enough material for a review. It'll probably fade to the middle or back of my collection now that I've written this, but I would imagine it will get pulled out and played from time to time. I wouldn't call this one an essential collectible, but it doesn't flat out suck either. Three stars seems appropriate.


Report this review (#72351)
Posted Sunday, March 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is one of the mellotron albums, since there are no less than three mellotrons present on this album. But there is more to this release than just this wonderful instrument. Spring is on of those early British progressive bands who made great music, along bands like Beggar's Opera, Cressida and Gracious. The music is not very complex and mostly song oriented, but great songs they are. Singer Pat Moran has a nice voice, that fits well with the music. A part from the mellotrons, there a sparse guitar solos. There is not really a stand out track, since all the tracks are of equal high quality. The three bonus tracks were meant to be on the, never released, second album. These tracks sound a bit heavier and all the mellotrons are gone. The organ still remains. Let this however not disappoint you, since these are good tracks and it is a shame we can never hear this album. I join the previous reviewers and highly recommend this album.
Report this review (#75333)
Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars From the very first note of this rarity from 1971 you feel that someone has opened the door to Mellotron heaven, a little slice of life from a time when Prog was still a new and exciting world to explore. Full of lyrical melodies and awash with swathes of warm and organic textures, this is music which owes much to the pioneering efforts of The Moody Blues and King Crimson, and yet comfortably stands alongside the likes of Barclay James Harvest and Argent, contemporaries in the art of melodic Prog. This is barbarian Prog, rough and unrefined by extensive studio multi-tracking expertise, as befits their status as an unknown gigging band making their first album, essentially played live in the studio with a minimum of overdubs or processing - just a little reverb and some vocal thickening - as indeed many bands were still doing at that time. There are mistakes, there are instrumental parts which don't quite fit the music, and there are instances of unfocussed background noodling, all of which today would have been re-done. But this very rawness gives it an endearing sense of naivety, immediacy and exhuberance, drawing you in to a time of great creativity and wonder.

Spring have become semi-legendary in the Prog world and their only album something of a lost Mellotron classic, but that is to ignore the other elements: like Argent and BJH, they used a strong twin attack of keyboards - organ, piano and a little synth in addition to the Mellotron - and guitars, backed by a busy but robust rhythm section. The similarity also extends to songwriting based on formulaic verse-chorus song structures with extended middle-8 instrumental breaks and mood swings, but little in the way of complex time signatures. The album doesn't appear to contain a single concept as such, but a number of common themes abound: life, loss, desolation, despair, death, war, mental anguish, all tied together with classical references and some nice little lyrical nuggets. Incidentally, my 1994 Repertoire CD issue contains printed lyrics to the original songs but not the 3 bonus tracks. While there are no obvious virtuosi here, the instrumental playing is perfectly adequate, but it has to be said the singer is an acquired taste - his diction is poor and he really doesn't have a Prog voice (whatever that is!). He would undoubtedly have been more at home in a punk orientated atmosphere.

The album opens, aptly enough, with the sound of the Mellotron, and indeed The Prisoner (Eight By Ten) is drenched in it. This is a mid paced tune, driven by some nice bass patterns overlaid by a variety of Mellotrons and a couple of synth solos, and introduces the first sign of a military style percussion. It has a swinging 60s vibe to it reminiscent of The Doors, probably due to the lack of any guitars. I was always struck by the rhyming couplet of 'centuries' with 'penitentiaries'! Grail is a more restrained slower paced ballad with some tasteful piano and guitar trills and fills added to muted Mellotron, lifted by a repeated chorus and a very BJH-like instrumental break with a heavier sounding 5-note ascending pattern of treated bass and Tron.

Boats ("sitting and watching the boats on a river") and Shipwrecked Sailor ("in the end my only friend was a dead man dressed in black") are a merged pair and are referenced by the cover picture of a dead soldier bleeding into a river while the band look on from the opposite bank. Boats is a simple song with a pleasant tune sung to strummed acoustic guitars and some electric noodling. Shipwrecked Sailor returns to the marching drum theme overlaid with Mellotron, building up to an up tempo, almost funky, guitar and organ based track which sounds like a forerunner of the style of the 3 bonus tracks. Different moods are evoked by a series of very Prog sections in the middle-8, but it is all underpinned by the military drums and some very meaty bass guitar which ends with a final dive-bomber-air-raid crescendo from the keyboards.

The Golden Fleece is another major mid-paced song, though not the most memorable of tunes, seemingly about a man's search for the unattainable "between the walls of dark despair where fountains weep and gargoyles stare". It is led by acoustic guitars, Mellotron and organ with a dramatic Mellotron pattern at the end of verses where a lead guitar would normally be, while a darker mood of the middle-8 includes excellent solos by firstly electric guitar then organ over a bass riff, all topped off by a dreamy ending. Similarly paced, though perhaps a little more rockist, is Inside Out, which seems to be offering advice to a wayward friend. Led by guitars and organ, there is a nice change of mood in the middle-8 with the introduction of Mellotron flutes, and an excellent build to an organ-led crescendo at the end.

Song To Absent Friends (The Island) is a slow ballad accompanied only by piano. The singer's shortcomings are somewhat exposed here! The final track of the original album, Gazing could have been a classic BJH song, bursting forth with a lengthy Mellotron based instrumental opening leading to a pastoral mid-paced song about life - "pages we will turn, taking steps to learn of the paths to take when we do awake". Mellotron and organ are to the fore, but so is the electric guitar which has an excellent multi-tracked solo.

The 3 bonus tracks are recordings made for a second studio album which was never released. They have a different feel about them, in part due to abandoning the Mellotron, but also their playing and songwriting is a little more accomplished and assured, and their sound is more robust. Fool's Gold opens with acoustic guitars before erupting into the full band with a prominent electric guitar. It also has an extended middle-8 with some aggressive guitar riffing and guitar and organ solos. While Fool's Gold is very much Argent territory, Hendre Mews could be early Deep Purple or Uriah Heep with echoes of Jethro Tull. It is more up tempo and more adventurously Prog structured, but it is not the most memorable of tunes and it could really do with a more charismatic singer, but there is an unexpected change of pace towards the end. A Word Full Of Whispers closes the album on a high, with acoustic guitars and organ driven by a wonderful up tempo chugging rhythm.

It is interesting to speculate how Spring would have developed had they survived. Judging by the bonus tracks, they were moving away from the Moodies/BJH pastoral sound, to a heavier, more aggressive, jazzed-up style with electric guitars playing a much more prominent role. Unless the unreleased second album ever sees the light, this will remain their legacy. I first obtained this in circa 1975 (my original vinyl copy is still lying around somewhere) and it sounds just as fresh and vibrant as it did then. Perhaps not absolutely essential, nor a masterpiece, it is nevertheless a worthy addition to any Prog music collection. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#77216)
Posted Friday, May 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
mystic fred
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Having been an Art Rock fan of many years, i am pleased that companies such as Repertoire have released many "lost" gems. "Spring" is one i hadn't heard and was keen to investigate, so having bought the CD this review is based on i was initially impressed by the sound quality of the recording, very clear and three-dimensional, though my main qualms are with the actual music. Compared to many albums around this period, i found this rather lightweight, and lacking in many departments. The first thing that struck me is although the quality of the musicianship is really excellent, some interesting little riffs and solos, lovely sounding (if sometimes slightly off-key) mellotrons, nothing here musically is really groundbreaking, particularly for 1971 which was a fantastic year for excellent new music.You seem to be waiting for something to happen, but it never does. Overall the album is rather pedestrian, plodding and uninspiring. Not a fan of the husky "morning after the night before" style of singing, i found the vocals on this album rather tired, flat and unmusical, and a few vocal mannerisms, such as pronouncing 'r' as 'w' rather irritating after a while, and words ending in 'ing' sung as 'in', or 'naaahts', 'peepull' and 'steepull '. As far as the songs go, there are one or two good tunes such as "the prisoner" and "grail" but i found most of them rather contrived, rhyming-by-numbers. in my opinion it's not surprising how this one found its way into the bargain bins as there are very many other albums released at this time which were very much better. According to the cd booklet, Ray (or should it be Paul) Martinez and Pat Moran went on to work with Robert Plant, on his excellent "Principle of Moments" album, so i guess something great came out of "Spring" eventually! one for completionists, collectors only though, i'm afraid!
Report this review (#78621)
Posted Thursday, May 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Bought this when it first came out after hearing it on the Peel programme. In some ways, as other people have mentioned, one of the greatest mellotron recordings ever allowed into the world. Superb songs. Great playing. But for me it has one great drawback/irritation which everyone always mentions - Pat Moran's voice. I've owned this album (and subsequently the CD reissue) for over 35 years and I've still never quite come to terms with his impersonation of a cat and dog fighting. Didn't any of the other band members want to sing? They couldn't all have been worse. Even a band member's dog might've sounded better. It says a lot for the strength of everything else on the album that, despite the voice, I still think it is a superb LP and I can still listen to it without it sounding dated. Some LPs from the late 60s/early 70s can have a flat, dull sound to modern ears (especially the drum sound) but Gus Dudgeon's production work here has a depth and resonance which stands up well.

Starting with "Prisoner" you are immediately introduced to all the main Spring elements. "That" voice which I'm sure must prevent a lot of people ever getting past the first few seconds. Pique Withers sharp, precise drumming (brilliant all the way through the album). Ray Martinez's often strange, trebly, compressed guitar sound. Adrian Maloney's heavy rubber-band sounding bass. And Kips Brown on mellotron/organ/piano. "Holy Grail" is slightly more laid back and floaty, but still keeps the main characteristics of the band. "Boats" is just Moran vocals and Martinez guitar. Not like the rest of the album, but I like it because of that. It's a bit of a lightweight breather in amongst all the doom and gloom of the massed mellotrons. Leading into "Shipwrecked Soldier" with its military drumming and almost funky organ at times. And one of the few occasions anywhere on record where I've heard a mellotron played in an almost pizzicato fashion. "Golden Fleece" is ok. That's all. It doesn't have quite the dynamic range of the other songs. Doesn't go anywhere or do much. But its got mellotrons in it, so it can't be all bad. "Inside out" is the closest Spring come to being an ordinary band with an ordinary track. If the rest of the album had been like this, we wouldn't be talking about it today. "Song to absent friends" is another break in the doom. I agree with others who've said it sounds like early Elton John. Finally "Gazing". For me the peak of the LP. Great rolling percussion from Withers, a superb guitar solos from Martinez (and I'm not a big fan of guitar solos), and a massive Phil Spector-like production sound.

One of the main things which hits you about all the songs is the relative simplicity of the structure and composition. Dare I say it, they are quite catchy? They don't go off in King Crimson-like strange time signatures with mad frantic riffing. There are instrumental breaks but self-indulgence was obviously banned, nobody outstays their welcome.

Anyone who has the CD reissue and has never heard the original vinyl might be interested in a few variations between the two versions. (And I wonder if this problem applies to other CD reissues of old LPs).

F'rinstance.. On "Prisoner" the CD reissue (on Repertoire) uses a different vocal track to the original vinyl - it's the same words but not the same version. On the CD track of "Holy Grail" there is a mad out-of-tune piano at the fade-out end of the song - that piano is not on the original vinyl. On "Song to absent friends" on the CD it is just Pat Moran's voice and a piano - the original vinyl also has an electric guitar come in after verse 2; it doesn't appear on CD. And on "Gazing", on the CD version the lyrics to verses 2 and 3 are different to those on the vinyl. And finally..on the inner sleeve of the CD (which is almost a reprint of the LP) there are four dark, shadowy pictures of the band members. But it's a five-piece band..! Adrian Maloney is missing on the inner CD, even though there's a space for him.

An previous reviewer mentioned the fact that the three bonus tracks on the CD don't have any mellotron on them, and I don't rate those tracks too highly because of that, so maybe this was the direction the band were going in. But given the variations I've mentioned about the reissues, I wonder whether the lack of mellotron on the bonus tracks is simply because the remastering engineer didn't put them on the final product. They're still out there somewhere!

Report this review (#81185)
Posted Thursday, June 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Oh yes, I know that this is a classic album but I only got it and listened it for the first time last month. It was during an i-Rock! (rock music community in my country where I'm very proud being a member) "Family Gathering" event when this CD was displayed at the CD counter of the event. I remember my senior Mr. Bhawikarsu recommended me to buy this classic CD which according to him this CD represented the first recorded material using a mellotron. Is he right? Maybe not because as far as I know, King Crimson "In The Court of The Crimson King" used it in 1969. Whatever the answer is - it does not matter to me. What I need to do is to give my view about this album (the only album by SPRING).

The album is truly a good representation of the golden years of seventies. I can sense it through the nuance projected by this CD: dark, mellow, mellotron-drenched and symphonic in style. To me, enjoying such kind of music is a joy and it feels like racing back my old days when I was a kid. From the opening track "The Prisoner", the composition demonstrates a music that flows in a slow paced style with heavy vocal of Pat Moran and the sound of (of course) mellotron. Ray Martinez gives his fills of guitar throughout the song. It similarly occurs with second track "Grail" which shares similar vein with the first track. The music is basically easy to digest.

The short track "Boats" is definitely a very The Beatles sound in its full psychedelic style with acoustic guitar rhythm and electric guitar fills. The guitar fills show the similarity of the Beatles. It moves then to the sound of marching drums backed with keyboard punch which reminds us to the music for a war at the fourth track "Shipwrecked Soldiers". Track 5 "Golden Fleece" shows the combination of symphonic and psychedelic. The music flows naturally with mellotron as main background backed with heavy bass lines. In some segments, the music reminds me to the nuance of King Crimson early albums. The guitar solo in the middle of the track is nice, accompanied with long sustain mellotron sounds and acoustic guitar fills.

"Inside Out" brings the music back to the influence of The Beatles performed in medium tempo. "Song To Absent Friends" piano introduction reminds me to the Beatles "Let It Be" even though it has different composition. It also reminds me to the classic album of Elton John. It is a nice mellow track. The album concludes with "Gazing" in medium tempo with early King Crimson style - heavily filled up with the sounds of mellotron. My CD has three bonus tracks: "Fool's Gold", "Hendre News", and "A World Full of Whispers".

It's a classic album and I recommend all of you buy this CD as it represented the sound of early seventies with its specific musical nuance. Production quality of the CD is excellent.

Life without music is a mistake. Music without progressive is a fatal tragedy!

Yours progressively, GW

Report this review (#83109)
Posted Saturday, July 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The players of this band certainly paint some beautiful visions with both string and flute Mellotrons. The album opens in calm feelings, which are surely one of the main characteristics of this record. I considered "The Prisoner (Eight By Ten)"as a quite common symphonic rock tune of early 1970's. The following "Grail" has a happy and relieved feeling, following the atmospherics of the first song quite much. There are some nice composed instrumental sections to be found from it too. On the basis of these two first tracks, I thought that this album resembles Greenslade's first album, but the next tracks move then to different directions. "Boats" is a short folky tune with a nice melody, morphing in an annoying style as "Shipwrecked Soldier", which is then a bluesy rock song with some marching patterns and nasal vocals. This song resembles quite much Black Widow's second album's sounds. "Golden Fleece" continues the slight relaxed bluesy style. The start of this track relies much to singing, and the composition isn't very complex, until nice a guitar solo comes out, and some nice composed material for the Mellotrons follows. "Inside Out" is quite primitive bluesy tune, basically ok, but not very interesting in my opinion. The middle section of the song has some kind of "progression of the Christmas elves" section, which was hilarious though stupid. "Song to Absent Friends (The Island)" is a short but beautiful and longing minor ballad for piano and voice, maybe the most pleasing song here, which is a surprise as I like Mellotrons very much. "Gazing" ends the original LP, and it starts as a fine solemn hymn, but moves soon back to the light and calm feelings characterizing this album. The chorus is still very beautiful and the Mellotrons paint fine contrasts on it.

There are three bonus tracks on the CD version which I managed to get for myself. Acquiring the original vinyl would seem as more expensive solution, as I saw it on a local second hand vinyl shop for ridiculous several hundred euros price. From these extra tracks "Fools Gold" is a nice number with fuzzed guitars on the chorus, giving a little stronger contrast to otherwise softer parts of the song. This performance follows the stylistic line of the original album tracks, and the end section has an interesting instrumental part included in it. "Hendre Mews" opens with hard guitars which bring to it more character than the rest of the tracks have in my opinion, but the song evolves soon to more basic bluesy direction, returning still time to time back to the fuzzed section. Otherwise the track is quite good, but there is an annoying fade out ending included. "A World Full of Whispers" is the last track, and is an uninteresting country-like rant for acoustic guitar and one yeller.

I liked the sounds and style of this album to some extent, but maybe the compositions are not very exciting, and I didn't like the way of singing. The overall feeling felt also as bit too light for immersing my mind to the album. The lyrics were more thoughtful than in an average rock records usually are however. If you like Mellotrons and classic British progressive rock of early 1970's, I recommend to give this classic a listen.

Report this review (#92440)
Posted Thursday, September 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Between King Crimson and Genesis there is only one band. Spring. Their one and only album is a mixtue of mellotron, rock felling and that special kind of thouch that only symphonic groups have. When i first heard that lp I cried. It's so beautiful... Ok, now the facts. There are three mellotrons, a very good guitarist and a vocalist who can sing. Great compositions, especially Eight To Then, Grail, Boats, Golden Fleece and Hendre Mews (it's a bonus track). MASTERPICE. This album is the true definition of art rock!
Report this review (#103876)
Posted Wednesday, December 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Lost in the crowd.

A quaint little band that released one self-titled and fairly intriguing pop-prog album with many pleasant melodies. I guess the thing that strikes me the most, is how much the singer sounds like a Vietnam era musician, that quality in his voice that you know couldn't come from any other era.

There's plenty of mellotrons here as well, so if you're looking to scrap up all the classic 'tron albums, don't forget this one. Golden Fleece and Grail are my favorites, with some really snazzy melody lines and great band work all around. Not overly complex, but sticks to the "fruit" of the song which is admirable, and enjoyable.

Some of this material is a little too "poppy" for my tastes, although much of it is done with a keen sense for taste and direction. The end of the album isn't near as good as the beginning, but I certainly would have liked to hear more from this output. It's a shame they would be a one album band that never really got the recognition they probably deserved for the time.

Report this review (#104903)
Posted Saturday, December 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Pure enjoyment for MELLOTRON fans!!! If you like MELLOTRONS, it's a Must for you! I have always been a fan of that magic instrument, but you should't expect much from SPRING in a whole. Enjoyable and melodic album, it lacks diversity and power. I like some tracks like the opening "Prisoner", bonus "Fool's Gold" and others like "Grail" and "Golden Fleece", but most of them sound a bit samey and undeveloped. Anyway, if you're not afraid of these non-harmful flaws and want to listen to something in ITCOTCK's/ MOODIES/ BJH/ Proto/Early Prog vein, you must check this one out. And it's a Must for MELLOTRON maniacs!
Report this review (#115478)
Posted Sunday, March 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I met Spring looking for mellotrons, and that's what I found, but only little more.

The album is OK, good music, good songs, but I don't find that special sense that makes music be what is in our lives. And at the end of the day, I decide to pick another album rather than try this one again.

It's like a mellow proto-prog album which I can imagine in 1966 or 1967, but in 1971 the music had gone through other ways. Maybe that forced location out of time results in a weak final concept. My highlights, Golden Fleece, Shipwrecked Soldier and Gazing, aren't all the good a highlight got to be. I don't know, when I first heard the disc, I was expecting something more that didn't come. As the days passed I expected to find it after some more spins, but again nothing arrived. So, Spring is to me just a group of nice songs that can be listened with the family.

About mellotrons, they are sounding from beginning to end (well, almost), contributing very well to the atmosphere that surrounds the album. But it's not the best example for this instrument. There are interesting works in Grail and Golden Fleece but, again, something is missing. Any way, if you are a fan of the mellotron, you should check this one out.

Report this review (#129946)
Posted Monday, July 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Often revered as a classic, Spring's only contribution to recording history is a decent, generally unexciting album with some fine moments sprinkled in. The omnipresence of mellotrons is probably the most remarkable feature, and I suppose that this instrument is often used to colour the overall sound of a band, to magnify it or make it larger than life, but in the case of Spring it often seems like a concept car. Remove the hood and you find the guts are lacking. No guts no glory.

Yet this is not a bad album. Songs like "Grail" demonstrate the gentle side of mellotron strings and are quite pretty, while "Song to Absent Friends" is a very pleasant Elton John type piano ballad. "Golden Fleece" is a more upbeat piece that contrasts with the general languid nature of the album. It contains mellotron horns that have a delightfully nostalgic quality, reminding me of some genuine horns used by someone around that time, but I can't put my finger on it. But the formula wears thin on "Shipwrecked Sailor" (which nonetheless contains some sumptuous guitar licks in the break) and "Inside Out", as do the archetypal religious and mythological themes. The bonus tracks mostly miss the mark, with "Fool's Gold" being an exception.

Recommended for mellotron completists, Spring is much more proto prog than prog, and one could hardly suggest that a great many influences sprung forth as a result of this effort. Yet there is a season even for well constructed music of this ilk.

Report this review (#131456)
Posted Thursday, August 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A very colourful Spring

Spring is one of the first prog bands I've heard, and it immidiately grabbed my ears!

For me every song on this album (including the bonus tracks because that's how I listened to the album) are magnificent!

This is one of those albums where you listen and listen and everytime what you perceive as being your favourite song changes!

From the hunting begining of the opener, "The Prisoner (Eight By Ten)", to the beautiful soft and folky "Boats", it's all so very good.

I do not agree however that this album if PACKED with mellotrons, as the guitar does seem to be the lead instrument or atleast up there with the keyboard/organ/mellotron.

One more thing I would like to mention is that I find Pat Moran's vocals to be perfectly fine and with time I have grown to love the way he expresses himself in singing, so I guess it is an acquired taste, but, once you've acquired it.... =)

Other then that I really dig the album cover and theme! it is all very beautiful and it may be a shame Spring never got to release their second album but let's be thankful for what they have released!

A definite 5!

Report this review (#142801)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This seems to be a concept album or at least have a theme to it. The mellotron is featured on all but 2 of the original album's tracks. Although you won't find it on the 3 bonus songs either. 3 of the 5 members of the band play the mellotron which of course doesn't mean they had 3 mellotrons in the studio or on stage, but that does mean you will hear a lot of it that's for sure.This is a fairly mellow and melodic record with really only one track that gets me excited(Golden Fleece). To quote Andy Thompson from Planet Mellotron he says "This is a so-so album, (but a) tron classic".

"The Prisoner(Eight by Ten)" has a great intro with lots of mellotron before light drums and vocals come in. Some fuzzed out organ after a minute and before 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 minutes. "Grail" is a drifting track with the focus on the reserved vocals except for the long instrumental section 3 minutes in. "Boats" is an engaging song that features strummed guitar with vocals. "Shipwrecked Soldier" reminds me of some of the sixties protest songs. Drums and vocals lead the way. Mellotron floods after 2 1/2 minutes and before 4 minutes.

"Golden Fleece" opens with mellotron as strummed guitar, bass and drums join in. Vocals come in as we get what sounds like horns coming and going. A tasteful guitar solo 3 minutes in with an organ solo to follow. Mellotron after 4 1/2 minutes with strummed guitar joining in to end it. "Inside Out" doesn't do anything for me. It sounds like xylophone before 2 minutes. "Song To Absent Friends(The Island)" is a ballad. "Gazing" opens with drums, mellotron and organ. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes and guitar 3 minutes in. I actually really like the first 2 bonus tracks. I like when the vocalist holds a note in "Fool's Gold" and there's some nice organ work 2 1/2 minutes in with some steller guitar before 4 minutes. This is my second favourite song.

So nothing much to get too excited about really other than the excellent mellotron floods. Still I like this album as it's relaxing, melodic and enjoyable. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#162353)
Posted Friday, February 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars It's hard not to feel sceptical when presented with an early-1970's prog-rock album with the tag 'Lost Classic' attached; Is it a cunning marketing ploy, a trick to boost the band's profile or is it simply bare- faced lies designed to con paying music fans out of their hard-earned cash? Whatever the reason(and this writer would like to make clear that some albums have the 'lost classic' tag for VERY GOOD Reasons), the upturn in Progressive Riock's recent fortunes have meant a clutch of forgotton bands have re-appeared, decades after they first started-out, in an attempt to revive their lost art in this new and exciting digital age. SPRING - a group who were one of the very first proper prog acts alongside KING CIMSON - released their eponymously-titled debut in 1970, to mixed reviews, before falling into the darkness of relative obscurity. Their album was a mellotron-drenched affair, maudlin and melancholy in tone, and featured a rather disturbing album cover that reminds one of the grisly Nic Roeg arthouse-horror masterpiece 'Don't Look Now' in it's depiction of a red-coat clad person(girl or boy???) lying, presumably dead, in a muddy country ditch. It's this kind of murky imagery that gave early prog it's artistic bells, but despite the striking imagery, the actual music fails to live up to the rather grandiose pretentions of the artwork. 'Spring' is all build-up and no pay-off, a selection of occasionally pretty yet dull and insipid songs, none of which manages to stand-put amongst the mubdane gloom. Not dreadful, but instantly forgettable. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2008
Report this review (#197966)
Posted Friday, January 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
3 stars Is it a bird - a plane? NO - It´s ............ well, kind of hard to tell.

Sometimes you just can´t find your place - no matter how hard you try, you´ll end up completely estranged and lost to the world. This sounds harsh, but in a way this perfectly sums up Springs self titled debut from the year 1971, where the hippie-dippy society drenched in peace and understanding was all but slain by the awful Altamont incident(what a brilliant idea to hire the Hells Angels as head of security, Mick Jagger), fighting in the streets and a drug consummation that was out of control.

Spring´s sound is like a hangover from the 60s - evoking thoughts of sitting around the bonfire smoking weed and playing songs you once wrote, while sitting on the can. This is a compliment btw, and one of this records biggest attributes: the songwriting is damn good. In fact, if it wasn´t for the ever present mellotrons and the small changes of pace, melody or structure, I´d think of this as a singer-song writer album...

There is however a big problem surrounding this release. At the time music was going a 1000 miles an hour in every which direction the different artists would take it. The progressive bands in particular were on the verge of climaxing in an esoteric explosive love affair, whereas the pop groups were trying to find there own sound, that preferably shouldn´t be a clear cut resurrection of what was so successful the decade before hand. Spring sounds like neither. They were too progressive for the pop audience and far too sweet and unadventurous for the prog community at the time. It is a real shame, and certainly when one thinks of the resurgence of this particular brand of music nowadays. Coheed and Cambria, Porcupine Tree, Pure Reason Revolution, The Dear Hunter and The Decemberists all dwell in between prog and pop, and as far as I can gather, they are doing pretty good -well at least compared with Spring.

If you love mellotron - and that seagull like, airy floating sound to boot, I urge you to find this long lost treasure. There are some killer guitar solos sprinkled along the album as well, with the one featured on Golden Fleece being my personal fave. The singer sounds a bit like The Verve front man Richard Ashcroft, with that sensuous vibrato effect attached to it, and together with the softness of the mellotron and the whole Moody Blues marinade these guys had been lurking in - things get interesting and quite different from the usual tenors in these kinds of bands, that usually sound like they live off mayonnaise and margarine.

Stand out tracks include the before mentioned Golden Fleece, Gazing and the wonderful Grail, that feature the most progressive shifts and turns this album has to offer, but it does so with grace and a thoughtfulness normally only associated with the more mellow pop artists of the time. I really love the mellotron on this track, which slightly sounds like a melodious whiff of fresh air blowing through a labyrinth - changing pitch and expression all according to the corridors.

A real bipolar treat, that never really finds its true self.

Report this review (#468759)
Posted Friday, June 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm a bit surprised by two things about this entry in PA = the Eclectic prog tag, as this record is far more pure progressive than a lot of other "progressive rock" tagged records, and the quite low rate of it. Of course it's a matter of taste, but listening to "Golden Fleece" or "Gazing" (for example) is for me pure gold, pure Mellotron and emotion based music.

Because of some lower quality songs, I can't rate Spring like the ***** England / A garden shed album for example (which is for me the typical lost progressive gem, although not that lost finally). Spring reminds me England because of the vocals with the same kind of real emotion in it. Love it.

4 stars definitely for me !

Report this review (#544795)
Posted Friday, October 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Spring released this interesting debut album on RCA, which I was slightly surprised to learn considering that the cover resembles a classic-period Vertigo release. Either way, the content here is not the most audaciously complex prog of this vintage, but is notable because of the band's extensive use of Mellotron - and unlike many groups, who stuck mainly to the iconic choir sound of the Mellotron, Spring bring a variety of tape sets to bear, making good use of the eerie flute and violin sets. Reminiscent of the later work of Morte Macabre and other Mellotron fetishists, Spring also bring a strong set of songs to the table, making this both an important and an enjoyable early prog release.
Report this review (#1061622)
Posted Friday, October 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you the lover of Mellotrons read no further and go listen to this Album. This album is pure magic for me, It's feels like visiting the countryside with a Tesla Electric car, you have that rural feeling and yet you get that "modern"(well not so modern its super-analog sound) rock sound. For me, its one of my all time favorites since I got the Akarma reissue I was blown away. there's not much point talking about the music itself. You'll have to listen to this, its a wonderful journey. Any fan of "The Court of the Crimson King" will appreciate this diamond. Enjoy.
Report this review (#1154690)
Posted Friday, March 28, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Warning: the music on this album contains mellotrons.

And with that proviso, we look at this fascinating one off album from the progressive English band Spring from 1971. One of few the early seventies bands that built it's musical foundations on the prog hallowed mellotron. Even the three bonus recordings present on this album, that were the initial songs recorded for their follow up album prior to the band splitting up, also feature the mellotron heavily, with more piano and organ brought in to build up the sound.

So, is the album Spring any good? That depends on how much one appreciates combining of the mellotron with mellow , but always simmering music. There are some dramatic moments on Spring with lyrics worthy of either Peter Sienfeld and Keith Reid, but the tone of the album is reflective and relatively quiet when compared to the more dynamic "From the Wicthwood Sounding" bonus tracks.

But the band, with four out of the five members playing the tron on different tracks, make this one off album seem almost essential to an early prog fan. Heavy 'Chas Cronk' style basslines and deceptively simple sounding drumming that has metronomic precision courtesy of future Dire Straits drummer Pick Withers. The band's rich soundscapes that feature everything from mellotron horns, flute, string, and even tympani, are marked out by a clangy electric guitar supported by the sweet tones of a beautifully strummed acoustic 12 string, which makes the music sound very much of it's time.

However, Spring has one endearing quality that almost all early seventies progressive rock band's lack. A modern, almost timeless, sounding vocalist that brings to mind echos of Peter Gabriel mixed with Cat Stevens.

For prog fans, 3.5 stars seems right. For prog fans who love mellotron, it's easily 4 stars. This review is for Doug, who inadvertently reminded me of why I got into prog in the first place.

Report this review (#1587027)
Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2016 | Review Permalink

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