Exposé Online banner

Spirogyra — Burn the Bridges: The Demo Tapes 70-71
(Repertoire REP 4846, 1971/2000, CD)

by Jim Chokey, Published 2001-03-01

Burn the Bridges: The Demo Tapes 70-71 Cover art

Not to be confused with a similarly-named 80s fusion act, this British band released three undisputed classics of progressive / psychedelic folk back in the 70s: St. Radigunds, Old Boot Wine, and Bells, Boots, and Shambles. Spirogyra had many songs in its repertoire, however, that never made it to vinyl. This CD makes those tunes available for the very first time. Taken from two demo sessions in 1970 and 1971, the 17 tracks on Burn the Bridges are as brilliant as anything the band later recorded. In fact, I’m in complete agreement with Spirogyra’s founder, Martin Cockerham, that this disk includes the band’s strongest material. The sound here is folksier than on the studio albums, but it is also more passionate and more expressive. Two songs feature solo performances by singer / guitarist Cockerham, a third includes drummer Dave Mattacks and two other studio musicians, but the remaining 14 numbers are performed by the quartet of Cockerham, vocalist Barbara Gaskin (of Northette fame), violinist / pianist Julian Cusack, and bassist Steve Borrill. Cockerham’s Dylanesque singing and Gaskin’s crystal-clear vocals offer a stirring contrast to each other from seven-minute disk opener “Turn Again Lane” onwards, while Cusack’s violin lines (which range from folk fiddling to more experimental stylings) and piano explorations provide an additional melodic voice to complement both singers. In spite of some tape hiss and print-through echoes, the sound quality here is excellent, considering the nature and age of the source tapes. For fans of Spirogyra and prog-folk more generally, Burn the Bridges is a treasure whose release from the vault was long overdue. Perhaps my favorite release of 2000.


Filed under: Archives, Issue 21, 2000 releases, 1971 recordings

Related artist(s): Spirogyra

Latest news

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

FM - Black Noise – The reissue of the second album by this excellent Canadian trio has been long awaited by many. A rather nonstandard three-piece, their most unique feature was the substitution of mandolin/violin for...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues