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

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more

2020-01-07
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Charlemagne Palestine - A Sweet Quasimodo between Black Vampire Butterflies for Maybeck – In the 30 or so years that Charlemagne Palestine has been around, this writer has never heard any of his music until now. It was inevitable that one of his recordings would reach my ears eventually,...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues