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on 13 April 2010
This is one of my all-time favourite albums.

There is not a dud track anywhere. The band are driven by two powerful voices - singer songwriter Martin Cockerham who delivers a socialist/pacifist message with more wit and clarity than most left-wing speakers I've ever heard - and the beautifully haunting angelic Barbara Gaskin. The CD cover describes her voice as "mellifluous" - a word I always understood to be negative , if not pejorative ( sickly sweet ! ). Her voice is gorgeous.

Julian Cusack contributes masterfully in a classical style. Whereas Swarbs , you knew , was playing a fiddle - Julian is never anything but a violinist. But both he and Swarbs are equally incomparable , in the other sense. I think Julian wrote only one one recorded song with the band but his "Time Will Time" is the best song Spirogyra ever recorded. It includes a line which is crazy as a lyric : "They'll all be scientists, humanists, egalitarian, vegetarian, internationalists" - I think he's Orwellian influenced but I'm not sure. But the song is brilliant.

This is avant-garde acid folk at it's very best from circa 1970. The final track is an outrageously arranged traditional country squire/peasant maid themed piece of wild abandon. Hunting horns are used wonderfully and pointedly at one point - you'll love this bit.

I wish I didn't know this album so I could listen to it for the first time.
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on 27 November 2007
Well I grew up on the Levellers and New Model Army. I think this is how they would have sounded 20 years before their time. In my opinion this is a great violin based folk-rock classic. Worth the purchase price in my opinion just to hear something different and great. If you like early Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull etc than this is also an album for you. It isnt a way out stoner record just a damn good set of songs.
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on 5 March 2010
Growing up in Canterbury in the late 60's / early 70's I can recall seeing Spirogyra on a few occasions and whilst liking what I heard I was never tempted to buy one of thier albums.
Now 40 years on I've been buying some of the albums that I didn't buy back then and have just added this one to my collection. Listening to it for the first time last night, I was totally blown away and would agree with a previous reviewer that they were probably way ahead of thier time.
Put simply, I would recommend this to anyone with a taste for far out folk/rock at it's best.
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on 2 December 2014
Just a knockout, so five stars for the musicians / singers for such a fine album. In fct I'm feeling generous today, so I'll give Repertoire five, too. And the delivery service also warrants full marks.
For those who have not yet owned a Spirogyra album, this one is highly recommendable, as is Bells, boots and shambles.
Their music is not really folk, but it does contain a folk element. Those who like Curved Air (I'm thinking of the electric violin here) and fans of Renaissance (Jane Relf, and later, Annie Haslam; Spirogyra boasts the fine voice of Barbara Gaskin) will surely groove to Spirogyra's highly creative themes and melodies. A fine effort from an overlooked early seventies band (St. Radigund's is 1971) fortunately undergoing rediscovery recently.
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on 2 June 2016
Classic album, play it regular in vinyl form so bought this cd as a back up !. This band was criminally underated but glad their 3 albums have been re-released so people can now "discover" them !
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on 14 June 2009
To keep things brief, this title is one of the absolute peaks of the whole U.K. folk-rock era ( circa 1967-1979 ). The violin playing is truly awesome-thank you Julian!
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on 31 May 2014
I sold my original vinyl copy but had to replace it. I had forgotten how good it was it still sounds fresh and hasn't dated. I am enjoying it again now.
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on 2 January 2014
My partner is reminiscing the music he grew up with and this one in cd form was his favorite 'must have' for his collection, he's very happy now, thanks
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on 8 May 2013
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on 10 December 2010
For those keen on distinctions -and in this case the distinction is clear indeed- this is the `progressive folk' Spirogyra, as opposed to the gossamer-light jazz-funk peddling Spyrogyra. Given the musical gulf between the two acts it's unnecessarily helpful that they opted for different spellings.

The Record Mirror review of this album from October of 1971 cited names like Pentangle and Curved Air as influences, but this reviewer's inclined to go with Principal Edwards Magic Theatre and Comus, the former for the shared quality of furrowed brow earnestness that sometimes gets into the proceedings and the latter for the sometimes demented-sounding vocals of main songwriter Martin Cockerham.

But the citation of any name is pretty unhelpful when "Magical Mary" covers as much ground as it does. Sawing fiddle and irregular time signatures conjure up visions of some erstwhile multi-media experience, complete with a lot of prancing about of the kind that Principal Edwards allegedly specialised in.

"Cogwheels, Crutches and Cyanide" (should we hope for a cover of this one on Beyonce's next album?) highlights how the voices of Cockerham and Barbara Gaskin were incapable of harmonising, but then the fact that they fail so abysmally to do so was probably part of the plan. Again the song goes through enough moods to qualify as a mini-album in itself and the music is propelled by Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks.

It all adds up to a one-off anyway -the same could probably be said of "Old Boot Wine" the band's follow-up album from the following year- but in being that so it's rendered of a time and place now past. Whether or not it qualifies for the rose-tinted Lennon spectacles of nostalgia is therefore a matter of opinion.
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