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Spriguns (Of Tolgus)

Prog Folk

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Spriguns (Of Tolgus) Time Will Pass album cover
3.34 | 14 ratings | 4 reviews | 29% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dead Man's Eyes (3:46)
2. All Before (2:44)
3. For You (3:37)
4. Time Will Pass (2:28)
5. White Witch (3:04)
6. Blackwaterside (5:13)
7. You're Not There (2:51)
8. Devil's Night (2:52)
9. Letter To A Lady (5:11)

Total Time: 30:16

Line-up / Musicians

- Mandy Morton / lead vocals & acoustic guitar
- Wayne Morrison / lead guitar, acoustic guitars, mandolin & vocals
- Dick Powell / electric guitar, keyboards & vocals
- Mike Morton / bass & vocals
- Dennis Dunstan / drums & percussion
- Robert Kirby / orchestral arrangements (2, 5 & 9)
- Lea Nicholson / concertina
- Tom Ling / electric violin

Releases information

LP Decca SKL 5286 (1977)
LP Universal Japan (1977)
CD BRC-29203 (japanese edition)

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SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) Time Will Pass ratings distribution

(14 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) Time Will Pass reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Heptade
4 stars Spriguns was a folk rock group that participated in the tail end of the limited popularity of English electric folk. Fairport and Steeleye Span had cornered the market, and the genre wasn't doing all that well as a whole (more's the pity). Nonetheless, Spriguns managed to make a couple of very nice records for Decca in the mid to late seventies. The band was lead by vocalist Mandy Morton, who possessed some pretty, Sandy Denny-esque dulcet tones.

This is their second record after dropping the "of Tolgus" from their name. Earlier the band had concentrated on traditional material mainly, but this album finds Morton stretching out as a songwriter. All of the tunes have traditional-style melodies, but the lyrics are usually more sparse. Morton had a penchant for dark tales of witchcraft and war, with the occasional love song thrown in. The band's sound was quite close to that of "All Around My Hat" Steeleye Span at the time, with some big guitar riffs creeping in, as well as some ripping electric violin, but with an overall dark, morose feel. Orchestral arrangements on a couple of tunes were provided by Robert Kirby (N. Drake's arranger). Kirby had joined the Strawbs at this time, and there is a great deal of crossover appeal to Strawbs fans here, since there are also a lot of good atmospheric keyboard (mostly string synth) parts as well.

Despite a bit of saminess in the vocal melodies, I was pleasantly surprised by this record, which I would heartily recommend to fans of Steeleye Span, Strawbs, Renaissance, Illusion and maybe even Gryphon as well.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars This album strikes me as a last, somewhat desperate attempt at a successful release by Mandy Morton and her late ex-husband. Most of the musicians were hired for the studio work with the exception of violinist Tom Ling and Dick Powell who had been with Morton for a while and had toured with the band.

Spriguns suffered from several maladies in their day, ranging from Ms. Morton’s reported miserly financial management to a lack of persistence in the ‘band’ membership. But their biggest problem was one of timing: folk music with mild progressive leanings and vaguely commercial aspirations described a pretty small and niche market in the mid and late seventies. Morton appears to have made a tolerable living touring regionally around Britain and parts of Europe, and she likely made a few dollars off the albums, but Spriguns was never destined to be a big name in folk music. I think a couple of her former band members ended up in the eighties Canadian pop band Katrina & the Waves, so you pretty much get the idea (“…I’m walking on sunshine...”).

The music is pretty decent, with the obligatory comparison to Sandy Denny being a somewhat valid one in the case of Ms. Morton. Morton wrote all the music for this album, as well as the lyrics for all but the traditional tune “Blackwaterside”. She had a tendency toward rather dark moods in her writing, and this album seems to be the darkest of all the band released, although certainly not morose by any stretch; maybe mysterious is a better word.

None of these tracks stand out particularly well, although the title track is most representative of the sound on this album. While the acoustic guitars and mandolin (along with Morton’s voice) give the music a folkish tinge; the electric violin, bass and guitar all say late-seventies artsy pop rock. Same goes for “Blackwaterside” which starts off as a rather traditional-sounding folk tune before giving way to some brief but Bryan Josh-like guitar whining before fading away; and “Devil's Night” which follows a similar pattern but is stretched out over a thirteen minute track.

My personal favorites are the opening “Dead Man's Eyes” and closing “Letter to a Lady”. The opener is the best example of a modern folk tune with a bit of rock and some Celtic accents that the band ever managed in my opinion. The closing track is one of three on the album with an orchestral background (strings, really), and this adds a nice touch to what is an otherwise more subdued composition. “White Witch” is another laid-back song with string backing that is a nice touch but suffers a bit from overindulgence by wandering on for nearly thirteen minutes even after it becomes apparent there isn’t enough material there to hold up for that long.

This isn’t essential music by any means, but it is decent at least, especially considering the time period and apparent lack of promotion or development on the part of Decca Records. I think three stars is right for folk and prog folk fans, but this isn’t the kind of album that will likely appeal to more staid progressive music fans.


Review by Matti
3 stars Spriguns was a minor folk-rock band led by singer-songwriter Mandy Morton, who has a clean, Sandy Denny -like voice. In addition to this album I have heard the preceeding Revel Wird & Wild (1976), which sounds very traditional folk(-rock) even if the songs are self-penned. On that album I slightly disliked the cheerful folk-naivety on some songs, while it was very well produced by Steeleye Span's Tim Hart. It didn't sound very different from numerous folk-rock bands before, with the female vocalist, some violins and all, but for the same reason this band brought hardly anything fresh to the fading genre.

Time Will Pass is a whole lot better album, though its running time is modestly 32 minutes only. Both the songs and the playing are more solid, and the naivety is replaced by more mature, closer-to-rock approach. It's not as faithful to the folk tradition, instead it's much closer to the mainstream popular music of the time, but in this case it's only positive. Three tracks have a soft orchestration that fits nicely to the whole. The arrangements use also electric guitars and synths effectively. I don't go into tracks individually, but to me this is a good, even album from start to finish. Esoteric Recordings re-released it last year with no bonuses. Mandy Morton continued her career in the 80's as a solo artist before she had a long-term job in the radio.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars After two albums produced by Tim Hart of STEELEYE SPAN, Spriguns' follow up saw the equally venerable Sandy Roberton in the chair, his credits including Steeleye themselves, as well as more rock oriented bands PLAINSONG and DECAMERON under the UK folk rock banner.

Not surprisingly this is a punchier effort with a much fuller sound, while it will never be mistaken for COMUS or SPIROGYRA. Part of this flowering occurs through the arrangements of string master Robert Kirby, whose association with NICK DRAKE and STRAWBS among others had dignified their own disks. Similar spells are conjured here on "All Before", which includes elegant piano, and the moving "White Witch", two of the 4 superb tracks on "Time will Pass". Elsewhere, keyboards sounding like string synthesizers complement the eerie "Devil's Night" and a brilliant extended rendition of the only traditional piece in sight, "Blackwaterside". But both also offer the heaviest guitars yet brandished by Spriguns, closer in timber to TREES than STEELEYE, while Mandy Morton gives her all in her channeling of MADDY PRIOR, GAY WOODS, and SANDY DENNY.

The counterpoint to the newfound muscle is that a few of the cuts seem to have escaped from a generic country/folk factory, with the limply pedestrian "For You" being the least redeemable. Nonetheless, I recommend this album over "Revel Weird and Wild" for fans of the sort of music that never succumbs to the passage of time.

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