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Spirogyra - Burn The Bridges: The Demo Tapes 1970-1971 CD (album) cover



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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars I am generally wary of posthumous releases because some are just bottom of drawers scraps compiled to capitalize on fans. Some are almost scandalous (Coda from Zeppelin , although not the worst is a prime example) but in the case of real sessions such as Lost Trident Sessions from Mahavishnu or the Brand X 75 tapes and Lard Free 71-72 sessions are superb and real gifts for fans because they are real albums. Well this Burn The Bridges album can be likened to the second genre.

This album contains the sessions (called demo but of superb quality) PRIOR to the first album and are totally authentic folk prog. What is especially endearing is that there is no drumming (except on the few loose singles tracks at the end of the CD) and this gives a particular feel to this release as opposed to the historical ones elsewhere in this section. The opening track is certtainly one of the highlight of the album and is maybe the most prog track here. Bring Me Back and Forst Of Dean are also amongst my fave tracks. Jerusalem being maybe the weakest thing here and I Hear You're Going Somewhere (Joe Really) is a real gift being a non-album siongle not included elsewhere is a real gem. Only the title (and closing) track of this release presents reconstruction/tampering with in an otherwise very valuable album.

However do not get your hopes up to high, Bill Bruford and Dave Stewart are nowhere to be heard/seen on this release as wrongly stated in the above info. This album is to be recommended, if you have enjoyed St Radiguns and Bells Boots & Shambles, but should not be heard before those two.


Report this review (#37313)
Posted Thursday, June 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars This is a rather intriguing compilation of pre-‘St. Radigunds’ Spirogyra music, one that would more properly be called an ‘early recordings’ than demo tapes. The band hadn’t yet grown a full-time drummer so the sound is a bit more sparse than Radigunds, and due most likely to the times and the band’s inexperience the tracks are less polished than the band’s later albums (relatively speaking – this is folk prog after all).

One of the more appealing characteristics here is the greater prominence of Barbara Gaskin’s vocals than on most of the rest of the Spirogyra music I’ve heard. She has a wonderful voice that transcends folk without veering into psych territory like so many of her peers tended to do. The result is an unsophisticated timbre that still manages to draw the listener into the band’s tales and fancies. The other standout performance comes from Julian Cusack on violin. The sporadic nature of the instrument makes for a nice compliment rather than a dominant role, which seems to suit this style of music quite well. Martin Cockerham plays a fair guitar, although he doesn’t seem to stretch himself all that often but is instead content to strum in accompaniment for the most part.

A few tracks stand out; “I Gotta Woman” (in which Cusack switches to piano), “Hey Lady” where Cockerham sings lead but in a more subdued manner and where Cusack fronts the instruments on violin for a change, and “The Forest of Dean” where Gaskin and Cockerham duet in a silly and happy ditty. “Jerusalem” is another noteworthy track even though there is nothing exceptional about the playing; it’s simply a mellow and peaceful tune that is made more wistful by the light-hearted whistling scattered throughout.

This isn’t quite as cohesive as the band’s studio works, but it is a great representation of a period where pure folk bands were beginning to stretch their sound, and one where the influences of psych and drug- induced music don’t spoil the purity of the overall sound like so many early seventies recordings do. I believe Repertoire was the first label to issue this on CD, but it is also available from Si-Wan, is pretty easy to find and reasonably priced. Fans of folk prog could do worse than to add this to their collection. Three stars easily, and I’m inclined to add another for the large selection of tracks and the surprisingly good sonic quality of these old recordings. So I guess four stars it is, and well recommended.


Report this review (#164295)
Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2008 | Review Permalink

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