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

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

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


Previously in Exposé...

Manticore - Time to Fly – Manticore is a new outfit from Sweden and with that name a heavy Emerson, Lake and Palmer influence is bound to be present. The first track, "New Foundation," ripples with ELP right down to the main...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues