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Mushroom - Early One Morning CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.76 | 38 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars It's a tribute to British Isles folk rock that spontaneous hybrids of traditional music and psychedelic and progressive rock can be propelled by sheer exuberance and, get this, reach the upper reaches of the national charts. LINDISFARNE did it with their take on country rock in 1972, and, while HORSLIPS appears to have narrowly beaten MUSHROOM to the punch, they can perhaps both lay claim to engineering the first genuinely Celtic rock albums ever made. Sadly, while HORSLIPS rose to legendary heights and achieved some international recognition throughout the 1970s, MUSHROOM came and went, a victim of too much success, too soon. I think their incongruous name didn't help matters either.

After the initial and generally underwhelming and timid ballad that gives the album its name, the "Liathden" wipes the slate clean and inaugurates the band's capabilities as rock and rollers who can seamlessly blend traditional melodies. While "Crying" and "Unborn Child" propose a more conventional rock, the former includes fine fiddling from Pat Collins. The rollicking instrumental "Johnny the Jumper" is a group triumph, with Michael Power's organ carrying the main melody punctuated by lead guitar embellishments by Aengus McNally and the kinetic rhythm section. "Standing Alone" is closest to a prog power ballad, and offers up a moog solo.

Finally we arrive at the piece de resistance and, paradoxically, the big hit single, "Devil Among the Tailors", a breathless romp with auctioneer styled vocals around a screechy fiddle riff that jettisons the very tradition it embraces at escape velocity. While the remaining tracks don't quite rise to this level, "King of Alba" plows a similar furrow and could have also charted.

The bonus material isn't bad, especially the funky bass-led story song "Met a Friend", but it also suggests the band had few ideas remaining beyond scoring another hit single. It's also odd that their success didn't translate to even modest financial backing, if the jittery production is any indication. Still, the ragged quality has its own charms, as did that of a certain Irish band named the POGUES a decade later, and for this and the skill, synergy, and enthusiasm of the playing, MUSHROOM's sole document deserves a few more moments out of the shade, and an extra half star.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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