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SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS)

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Spriguns (Of Tolgus) biography
Band Line Ups:-
Mandy Morton-Vocals,12 String Guitar,Dulcimer,Bongos
Mike Morton-Bass Guitar,Vocals
Rick Thomas-Vocals,Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Dulcimer- (Jack with Feather)
Chris Russon-Electric Guitar,Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,12 String Guitar(Jack with Feather)
Dick Powell - Electric Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals (Revel Weird and Wild & Time Will Pass)
Tim Ling - Electric Violin (Revel Weird and Wild and Time Will Pass)
Chris Woodcock - Drums (Revel Weird and Wild)
BJ Cole - Pedal Steel (2 tracks on Revel Weird and Wild)
Wayne Morrison - Lead Guitar.Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin and Vocals (Time Will Pass)
Dennis Dunstan - Drums (Time Will Pass)
Lea Nicholson - Concertina (Time Will Pass)
Robert Kirby - Orchestral arrangements on Time Will Pass

The Spriguns (of Tolgus) were formed as a duo in 1972 by husband and wife,Mike and Mandy Morton playing traditional folk music not dis-similar to early Steeleye Span .They opened The Anchor Folk Club in Cambridge,gradually enlisting more musicians.Their first recording was a badly recorded cassette only set of sons called 'Rowdy Dowdy Day'. All the while,they were attracting a large and following.
They came to the attention of Steeleye Span's Tim Hart who produced their first album proper,'Jack With Feather' in 1973.

Six months after the release of 'Jack With Feather', Mandy formed the new 'Spriguns' ,dropping the 'Of Tolgus' suffix and signing with Decca Records.The band recorded 'Revel Weird and Wild' in1975,again produced by Tim Hart.
The sound was becoming rockier but they hadn't forgotten their traditional roots just yet.

In 1977 ,during the height of Punk,Spriguns recorded their final album,'Time Will Pass'.This time production duties fell to the respected Sandy Roberton.The orchestration on the album was conducted by Robert Kirby,famous for his work with Nick Drake and The Strawbs amongst many others.The sound this time was rockier.Similar to The Trees or Mellow Candle in style,with some excellent long guitar solos.Not long after the albums release,Mandy Morton left to persue a solo career.She released the 'Magic Lady' album in 1978,which is very similar to Sandy Denny's solo material.
Highly Recommended!

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SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Rowdy Dowdy Day
1974
2.51 | 3 ratings
Jack With A Feather
1975
2.75 | 4 ratings
Revel Weird & Wild
1976
3.35 | 6 ratings
Time Will Pass
1977
4.00 | 1 ratings
Magic Lady (as Mandy Morton & Spriguns)
1978

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SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Time Will Pass by SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.35 | 6 ratings

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Time Will Pass
Spriguns (Of Tolgus) Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

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.

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 Rowdy Dowdy Day by SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Rowdy Dowdy Day
Spriguns (Of Tolgus) Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
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.

peace

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 Jack With A Feather by SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.51 | 3 ratings

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Jack With A Feather
Spriguns (Of Tolgus) Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars This is a folk album for sure, but it isn’t progressive by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, these are all traditional folk tunes of some variation of British origin (mostly English I think). Some were also on Spriguns first album (“Let No Man Steal Your Thyme” and “Keys Of Canterbury”), although from what I understand that record is nearly impossible to find..

The band would drop “of Tolgus” from their name after this release, and guitarists/mandoliners Rick Thomas and Chris Russon would disappear before the next release. Somewhere along the line Mandy and Mike Morton split up as well, and Spriguns became something of a B-list band with a revolving lineup of journeyman players backing Ms. Morton’s own compositions in the studio and on spotty local tours.

The one track that is mildly interesting from a trivia standpoint is the opening track “Lambton Worm”, a very old English folk legend that is referenced and heavily interpreted in the eighties cult film ‘Lair of the White Worm’. Beyond that “Curragh of Kildare” is a great snapshot of Ms. Morton’s vocals, and “Twa Magicians” sounds like just the sort of slightly psych folk that would have gone over great in the latter part of the sixties. But really that’s about it.

I’ve never quite understood what prompted the Mortons to undertake fielding a decidedly traditional British folk band in the mid- seventies. Long gone were the days when a mildly Dennyesque female wielding a fiddle and singing tales about days of yore could attract much of a following beyond the aging crowd that plopped themselves on itchy wool blankets and munched cheese and bread on the park green to enjoy an afternoon free concert. Bands really just couldn’t much make a living at this sort of music at that time, a fact that Ms. Morton came to realize as the band petered out later in the decade.

Technically these are well-executed tunes, and I suppose one who has an appreciation for British folk stories and traditional music more suited to a decade of so earlier would find these somewhat nostalgic and appealing. But I can’t imagine the teens and 20- somethings who were actually shelling out cash for records at the time were finding much to attract them with Spriguns. The last two albums by the band featured original compositions, mostly by Ms. Morton, and at least the one of these I have (‘Time Will Pass’) is more interesting than this is. But if I really want to get down and dirty on some traditional folk I’m thinking I’d invest in a Davey Graham or Bert Jansch record instead.

I can’t say this is bad music because I don’t have that background to appreciate any cultural context it might have. But I can say that there’s not much here to appeal to fans of progressive music, and in that regard this can really only be considered a collectors piece for fans of English folk or ardent fans of Spiguns. And that means it rates two stars.

peace

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 Time Will Pass by SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.35 | 6 ratings

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Time Will Pass
Spriguns (Of Tolgus) Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

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.

peace

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 Time Will Pass by SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.35 | 6 ratings

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Time Will Pass
Spriguns (Of Tolgus) Prog Folk

Review by Heptade
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Jack With A Feather by SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.51 | 3 ratings

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Jack With A Feather
Spriguns (Of Tolgus) Prog Folk

Review by Man Erg
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars As you gather from the track-listing,this is a more traditional album than what was to come. Mainly consisting of acoustic material taken from their live shows,Jack With a Feather was produced by Steeleye Span's Tim Hart who also contributed one track to the album.Mandy Morton's vocals are similar to Steeleye's Maddy Prior and former Steeleye vocalist,Gay Woods.A no frills production gives the album a live-in the-studio feel. If you like Fairports/Steeleye Spans more 'rustic and rural' material you will no doubt like this.

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Thanks to Man Erg for the artist addition.

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