Friday, July 30, 2004

BlueSanct Recording Corporation: a world of tone and silence...

BlueSanct Recording Corporation: a world of tone and silence...:

Nice selction of MP3's from the likes of The Iditarod, Drekka and In Gowan Ring

Mandy Morton & Spriguns - Magic Lady

Mandy Morton & Spriguns - Magic Lady

After losing their place at Decca, (or forgoing it to go indie as claimed by the liner notes) Spriguns was, for all intents and purposes, disbanded and retooled as Mandy Morton & Spriguns. The result of this creative re-structuring was the Morton/Sprigun groups best album yet, Magic Lady. Singer, songwriter Mandy Morton takes center stage as Magic Lady is clearly more of a solo effort with Spriguns now merely a back-up band, and Morton lives up to her new top billing with a beautifully crafted and mature effort that finds her moving stylistically from the ranks of would be Maddy Prior's to a worthy successor to Sandy Denny - the talent against whom all folk songstresses are eventually compared and to whom the album is dedicated. (Ms. Denny passed away during the recording of what was originally going to be titled "Music Prince".)

Lush, though not opulent, arrangements augment a fine collection of tunes - for the first time in their discography, there's not a sub-par track to be found. If there's to be any complaint it would be that Morton's vocals still occasionally lack emotional conviction, her laid back style sometimes seems to hold her songs back a bit. Restraint is a wonderful tool that many of today's divas would be wise to learn to use but Mandy Morton's songs are so expertly crafted and lyrically rich you can't help but wish she'd invest a bit more of herself emotionally within them.

A fine effort and a must buy for fans of classic UK folk.

"For You" - A page dedicated to Mandy Morton and Spriguns

"For You" - A page dedicated to Mandy Morton and Spriguns

Informative site dedicated to 70's folksters Spriguns and lead singer, solo-performer Mandy Morton.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Theme Song Collection - Song #2 - James Galway

Here's the second in the She Moved Through the Fair theme song collection.

MP3 - She Moved Through the Fair - James Galway

In case you missed it, the first was a live take by Richard Thompson (and David Byrne).

Friday, July 23, 2004

Spriguns - Time Will Pass

Artist of the Week - Spriguns

Time Will Pass (1977)

A tremendous improvement over the band's previous two albums - on this second Decca release Many Morton finds her footing both vocally, showing far more emotional range and natural phrasing than before, and musically - the tunes now truly support her already strong lyrics - instead of deadening their impact. Where before Spriguns were merely second division Steeleye Span Time Will Pass shows a mature and self confident band willing to augment their spare folk tales with more full blooded arrangemnts and wider instrumentation.

It's a pity that Time Will Pass marked the end of Sprigun's major label days - punk and new wave were culling all but the most profitable folk and prog bands from most label rosters by this time - for it stands up against the other Brit-Folk of its time from far better known bands including Steeleye, Fairport, Pentangle, Strawbs and the rest. There not a bad song here - the weakest track, their version of the oft covered Blackwaterside, is merely pretty good.

Top Tracks: All Before, For You, Time Will Pass, You're Not There,Letter to a Lady

MP3 - Time Will Pass

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Maddy Prior - Hooked on Winning

Maddy Prior Hooked on Winning | CD Review

Solo outing from 1978 sees Steeleye Span's Maddy Prior making some effort to distance herself from the traditional based folk rock she's become best known for. Similar to, though less compelling than, the lesser works of such artists asJudy Tzuke and Joan Armatrading or Linda Thompson's ill fated post Richard and Linda Thompson solo work.

Opening with the rather unfortunate, if not truly awful, cod-reggae of "Long Holiday" followed by the strained boogie of "Information Station", Hooked on Winning tries too hard to redefine Prior as an eclectic singer/songwriter. Song after song put her mmediately recognizable voice in unfamiliar, and occasionally unwelcome, territory where, more often than not, she fails to convince. If there was no back catalog of Steeleye Span, Silly Sisters, Carnical Band and so on, to compare it to Hooked on Winning would fare much better - a more consistant style would have helped as well, for there are tracks that fall well without the stereotypical Steeleye sound without veering into pub rock cliche - the thoughtful, Fairport-esque "Commit the Crime", the more straightforward MOR stylings of "Friends" and "Love's Not Just a Word" and the "Part of the Union" Strawbs-ey "Anthem to Failure" are the best of a mediocre lot.

While still desireable to hardcore Steeleye/Maddy fans there's little hear worth repeated listenings when compared with the huge amount of far more compelling fare Prior has amassed over the decades.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Six Organs of Admittance 'Somewhere Between' - moebius rex

ready rock moe rex:

MP3 Blog moebius rex offers:

"Six Organs of Admittance 'Somewhere Between' - Back on earth--marginally, anyway--we have this lovely folk-worn drone/chant/raga composition from the Six Organs of Admittance..."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Spriguns - Revel Weird and Wild

Artist of the Week - Spriguns

Spriguns - Revel Weird and Wild (1976)

Major label debut from second division brit-folksters in the Steeleye Span style. Revel Weird and Wild shows distinct growth from their previous, privatly pressed, Jack with a Feather (see previous post for review) - especially lyrically. However vocalist Mandy Morton lacks the emotional depth that sets apart the likes of Maddy Prior, Sandy Denny, Annie Briggs and others. The tunes also lack distictiveness, often working against a perfectly good lyric - an example is the albums lead track "Trysting Tree" - the tragic, if rather far fetched, tale of a doomed knight desperate to see his lover one last time marries the overheated lyric...

"What a rueful sight for a gallant knight
'Twas there for him to see
Oh the lady Isobel blackened and scorched
By the lightning blast of heaven
And that stately tree where they oft had met
Was leafless blasted and riven
And he kneeled him down o'er the lifeless form
And the death owl o'er him flew" a benign and frankly monotonous set of stock folk chords that steal the emotional weight of the words rendering the entire song sadly forgettable.

So, not a classic of the genre but a worthy effort with a number of fine tunes (When Spring Comes In, Lord Lovell) and tasteful playing throughout.If your love for Brit-folk extends beyond the marquee names you'll find much to enjoy here.

Top Tracks: Outlandish Knight, Lord Lovell,Nothing Else to Do, Laily Worm, When Spring Comes In

Monday, July 19, 2004

Artist of the Week - Spriguns - Jack With a Feather

Artist of the Week - Spriguns

Spriguns of Tolgus - Jack With a Feather

Playing the same sort of electric/acoustic trad-folk hybrid pioneered by Ashley Hutchings with first Fairport Convention and then Steeleye Span, Spriguns of Tolgus (later known simply as Spriguns) employ the same dual male/female vocals, tasteful period arrangements, instrumentation (electrification not withstanding) and archaic song selection that defined early Steeleye - though the results on this, their first official album, are less often as inspired.

Formed by husband and wife team Mike and Mandy Morton, Spriguns began as a local folk act taking their name from a " a rather evil Cornish pixie" (Spriguns) and a local Cornwall tin mine (Tolgus), and were soon spotted by Steeleye's Tim Hart, who contributes a song here, eventually signing a major label deal. This first album, independantly released, is understandably rough around the edges but never the less shows great promise - promise that would soon be realised on their subsequent Decca releases.

Top tracks:Derby Ram, Curragh Of Kildare, 8 Keys Of Canterbury, Seamus The Showman

Buy Jack With a Feather from Amazon

MP3 - Derby Ram (128k/2.6mb) Limited time only.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Maddy Prior & the Girls - Bib and Tuck - CD Review

Maddy Prior & the Girls - Bib and Tuck
Often gorgeous, frequently accepella gift of harmony from Steeleye Span chanteuse Maddy Prior, her daughter Rose and talented vocalist Abbie Lathe.

Well stocked with inspirationals, old English ballads, sailor's tunes and tasteful modern pop adaptations (I Need You to Turn To, True Colors) plus the moving song suite "Cotten Triangle", Bib and Tuck is a vocal lover's dream. At times veering nearer to "world" music Bib and Tuck may not be as Brit-Folky as Prior's best know work but it is a worthy addition to any folk-philes collection.
Buy Maddy Prior & the Girls - Bib and Tuck from Amazon

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Bards of a Feather, 'Birnie Bouzle" | Broadcasts from Planet Blarg

Broadcasts from Planet Blarg:

"- Celtic Folk: Bards of a Feather, 'Birnie Bouzle' (2.1MB)Nothing against celtic music itself; due to my own experiences, I tend to associate it with overheated festivals and pewter dragons."

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

She Moved Through the Fair

She Moved Through the Fair
Padraic Collum

My young love said to me my mother won't mind,
And my father won't slight you for your lack of kind,
And she stepp'd away from me and this she did say,
'It will not be long love till our wedding day.'

She stepped away from me and she moved through the fair,
And fondly I watched her go here and go there,
Then she went her way homeward with one star awake,
As the swan in the evening moves over the lake.

The people were saying no two were e'er wed
But one has a sorrow that never was said,
And I smiled as she passed with her goods and her gear,
And that was the last that I saw of my dear.

I dreamt it last night that my young love came in,
So softly she entered, her feet made no din;
She came close beside me, and this she did say,
'It will not be long love, till our wedding day.'

She Moved Through the Fair is surely one of the most popular of all Celtic folk songs - having been covered myriad times by a vast array of artists. Everyone from Sinead O'Connor, Sarah Brightman, Mary Black, All About Eve, Loreena McKennitt and Charlotte Church through Van Morrison, Art Garfunkel, Alan Stivell, Richard Thompson and Shane MacGowan have covered it. Sandy Denny's version with Fairport Convention may be the best known version but nearly every Brit- and Celtic folksinger on the planet has likely had a go at one time or another. When performed well it is a moving, haunting work of wonder.

The Padraic Colum Collection at

The score (in various formats) at Digital Tradition

All Music Guide has an incomplete but still impressive 107 versions listed - plus dozens more under such variations as She Moves Through the Fair.

New Zealand's Lothlorien (official site) do an exceptionally lovely version on their album Greenwood Side Sample MP3's

Here's a live version from (mostly) Richard Thompson and (lessly)David Byrne. (very limited availability) - Update - Link no longer active