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The Morrigan

Prog Folk

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The Morrigan Wreckers album cover
3.29 | 7 ratings | 4 reviews | 14% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Miller's Dance (4:43)
2. Yarrow (4:21)
3. The Wreckers (6:13)
4. Banks Of Green Willow (6:50)
5. Cold Haily Windy Night/Drowsey Maggie (4:10)
6. The Agincourt Carol/La Rotta (5:56)
7. Cold Blows The Wind (6:12)
8. Wheels Turning (6:38)
9. When The Rain Comes Down (6:22)
10. Dark Girl Dressed In Blue/The Doubting Page (6:29)

Total time 57:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Cathy Alexander / vocals, keyboards, 12-string acoustic guitar (2), recorder, EWI (9)
- Colin Masson / vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, sequencing, co-producer
- Mervyn B. / flute (3,4,8,10), vocals
- Dave Lodder / keyboards (3), bass (5), electric (6,8-10) & acoustic (7,8) guitars
- Archie / drums, timpani (3), talking drum (6), triangle (1), acoustic & electric percussion, vocals

- Scottish Jon / bass (3)
- Chas Pinder / vocals (8)

Releases information

MC Morrigan Music ‎- none (1995, UK)

CD English Garden - ENG1018CD (1996, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE MORRIGAN Wreckers ratings distribution

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

THE MORRIGAN Wreckers reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars In some respects I can see how the music business has improved in the past thirty years or so. Or at least the distribution methods have. When I was a teenager in the seventies about the only way to hear about obscure foreign artists on minor labels was via an off-hand mention by an established artist in a magazine interview, or from a well-informed friend who worked at a local record shop. To actually lay hands on these imported albums you usually had to have that same friend at the local record shop be willing to special-order it for you, and more often then not you had to drop a deposit or at least pay for the shipping up-front. And after all that you often had no way of knowing if 1) the album would actually appear, and 2) whether it would be any good.

Today albums from artists like the Morrigan on labels like English Garden can be ordered on-line and delivered via UPS in a few days. And since even the most humble bands all have websites (or at least a mySpace account), you at least have an idea of what you’re buying before it ends up in your collection.

This is one of those minor label, second-tier bands who wouldn’t have made their way on to many (if any) record store shelves in the seventies or even eighties, but now they can be added to your collection without going any further than the mailbox on the front porch. Who says technology isn’t wonderful?

Not that this is a masterpiece or anything like that, it’s just that the progression in music sourcing struck me while listening to this CD the other day. The Morrigan seem to be a regional phenomenon, much like Ezra or Bluehorses or any number of other British prog folk bands I’ve picked up on the web in recent years. In fact these guys have some similarities to both of those bands with their blend of Celtic- laced rhythms, traditional English folk influences and more modern arrangements. Even with major label promotion I doubt if these guys would ever amass a large enough fan base to get rich or anything, but this is a decent album anyway.

This was the first album the band released on an actual label; prior to that they had a couple of releases on cassette that were recorded using mostly amateur equipment that also ended up being pirated to vinyl elsewhere in Europe. Good thing too since those bootlegs brought the band to the attention of English Garden records, which bankrolled this release and have since reissued the rest of the catalog.

The lead-in “The Miller's Dance” is an instrumental jig of sorts with plenty of energy and upbeat tempo, and perhaps gives the wrong impression that these guys are no more than a group of musicians who hop up old folk tunes for gratuitous use at pubs during weekend evenings live shows. There’s some truth to that description perhaps, but the tracks that follow show more ambition and creativity. “Yarrow” introduces the vocals and woodwind work of Cathy Alexander, whose classic folk voice works quite well throughout the album, while the title track interjects a tight electric guitar and synthesizer interplay (although the production is a bit muffled due to the limitations of the eight-track equipment used by the band in recording this album).

“Banks of Green Willow”, “Cold Blows the Wind” and “The Agincourt Carol / La Rotta” are more traditional numbers with not a whole lot to recommend them, and so are “Cold Haily Windy Night/ Drowsy Maggie” but here the band picks up the tempo and layers several woodwinds to liven up the music. I’m reminded a bit of Spriguns of Tolgus as well.

The band veers into AOR territory with the original compositions “Wheels Turning” and “When the Rain Comes Down”, neither all that progressive but with decent guitar and rather sultry vocals from Ms. Alexander and a change of pace from the half-album’s worth of more staid folk that precede them. These remind me of some of those chic eighties bands like Martha & the Muffins or even Dexy’s Midnight Runners

More traditional tunes with the closing “Dark Girl Dressed in Blue / The Doubting Page” but again the modernized arrangements and combination of electric guitar and synthesized instrumentation will get your foot tapping at least.

This isn’t a classic by any means, and it probably won’t see too much time on my disc changer after listening to it for the past couple of weeks, but in all it’s not a bad piece of work to pick up if you can find a reasonably-priced copy and long for just a bit of nostalgia with a trip down musical memory lane to what a lot of the late nineties non-dance music sounded like. Three stars.


Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars The Morrigan rides back

After the impressive Prog Folk of Rides Out, The Morrigan reverted a bit to their original, more traditional Celtic Folk Rock style again with Wreckers. Indeed, in many ways the present album would have made more sense as a follow-up to the 1985 debut, Spirit Of The Soup, than as a follow-up to Rides Out. A couple of songs on Wreckers actually appeared already on the debut in earlier and different versions. But it would be somewhat unfair to say that Wreckers doesn't advance things beyond Spirit Of The Soup. This is, after all, a more varied and more eclectic album than the debut and the quality of the material and recordings is improved. However, the progressive aspects of the previous album are much less evident here. Steeleye Span and similar classic British Folk Rock bands still seem to be the primary inspiration, but the symphonic, Camel-like feel of Rides Out is nowhere to be found on Wreckers. Rather, this is a moderately eclectic mix of traditional British and Celtic Folk, straightforward Rock and some jazzy leanings. Regrettably, they mostly alternate between these different styles rather than fusing them together into something genuinely new and original. The great instrumental opener The Miller's Dance is an exception though and is the most progressive number on the whole album.

Songs like Yarrow and Banks Of Green Willow are pure British Folk Rock ballads in the style of 60's Fairport Convention and 70's Steeleye Span with superb and heartfelt Sandy Denny-like vocals from Cathy Alexander, and some tasteful acoustic guitar playing from Collin Masson. Both songs tell gripping stories. Cold Haily Windy Night and Cold Blows The Wind are two songs that originally appeared on the band's debut album, but the new version of the former is radically different. The present version is jazzy and almost funky! When The Rain Comes Down is also a bit funky with its almost reggae-rhythm.

Wheels Turning is the only real Rock number of the album, and it is a rather straightforward affair that I find somewhat out of place on the album despite a decent instrumental break. Masson's electric guitar sound is constantly evolving and it never sounded as clean as this, he can be compared to Steve Hackett and Mike Oldfield. The line-up is filled out by a drummer called Arch, a flautist called Mervyn B. and a second guitarist called Dave Lodder. Again, several of the members provide keyboards and backing vocals.

Overall, I find this album less interesting and less consistent than the previous Rides Out and I also think that subsequent albums would be improving over the present one. This is thus not the best place to start you investigation of this unfairly overlooked band. Recommended to all who likes eclectic and unconventional, but not necessarily progressive, Folk Rock.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Wreckers' - The Morrigan (7/10)

Back with a third album after a six year wait from the second, progressive folk rockers The Morrigan are back with 'Wreckers', fueling their Celtic roots with the energy and complexity of prog. An album that feels like a step back towards the folky side than the rock they experimented with on 'Rides Out', this is the first time that The Morrigan have really left an impression on me. The band had been in intermittent activity for over a decade at this point, and the band experience is reflected here fully, although there is still the feeling that things could have been improved upon further.

As has been mentioned in another review, this feels more like the spiritual sequel to The Morrigan's debut 'Spirit Of The Soup', rather than the third album. While regressing back a step usually isn't a good sign for most bands, in this case it does really have a positive benefit. In 'Rides Out', I generally felt that the rock wasn't nearly powerful enough to warrant cutting out the Celtic beauty that defines their sound. Instead here, there is the energy that was lacking on the debut, but conveyed through the Celtic instrumentation of the recorder and a myriad of other folky instruments.

Although the Celtic melodies and parts are highly derivative of traditional songs, that is part of what makes 'Wreckers' an enjoyable experience. Seen her is the inately 'foward-thinking' sound of prog rock (as can be heard through the use of keyboards) and an ancient sound that still holds as much appeal today as it did back in feudal times. Leading this foray into the Celtic culture is vocalist Cathy Alexander, who has not changed up her act much since the debut, but remains a strong singer that really works for the sound of The Morrigan. Also here is 'Cold Blows The Wind', a new rendition of an older track they previously did, although it is a pleasure to hear this track redone in a more professional setting.

While the album may have the cohesion of 'Rides Out' an d the musical beauty of 'Spirit Of The Soup', it still feels as if something is missing from the album that keeps it from being truly remarkable. Perhaps it is the generally straightforward approach to the songwriting employed here, or the rather cheap sounding keyboard sounds, but these do not prevent 'Wreckers' from being an enjoyable musical experience through and through.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars THE MORRIGAN, spurred by Colin Masson's aggressive guitars, Cathy Alexander's versatile vocals, and a sturdy rhythm section and keyboards owing more to rock than folk, continue to tackle mostly traditional tunes on "Wreckers", while also taking on much more contemporary material.

Successes can be found in both realms - the title cut is fresh and provocative and demands multiple listens; "Yarrow" is based on a profoundly simple up and back melody and engages with crisp acoustic guitar backing from the outset; "Cold Haily Windy Night" is a sultry fast paced seafaring tale with a playful backing, irresistible picking by Masson and spirited woodwinds; and "When the Rain Comes Down" is a much more modern reggae inflected song reminiscent of SALLY OLDFIELD in the vocals and late 1970s CAMEL or even KERRS PINK in the slick but moving synth passages. However, a few of the trad pieces are simply bores whatever the value of the story - "Banks of Green Willow" seems like an interminable recitation, while "Cold Blows the Wind" is based on a tune that almost every Celtic music fan has heard too much of and it's one of the less memorable renditions at that. "Wheels Turning" completely eschews the trademark sound and is almost rockabilly in parts, and earns a few points for verve but little else. It sounds exactly like somebody but I can't figure out whom! The instrumentals which open and close the album could be from almost any Celtic band of their time.

While this follow up to "Rides Out" doesn't wreck the band's reputation, it certainly doesn't propel them forward like one would have hoped. However, the presence of several superb cuts earns "Wreckers" the right to 3 stars and a return appearance or two.

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