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Mandy Morton & Spriguns (UK) - 1978/1993 - "Magic Lady"
(39 min, 'Morton'/"Hi-Note")


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Tracklist:
1. Magic Lady
2. Music Prince
3. According to Mathew
4. Little In Between
5. Goodbye the Day
6. Silence Do the Rest
7. The Lady
8. White Ship
9. Witchfinder
10. Gypsy Glass
11. Ghost of a Song
12. Winter Storms *
13. Magic Lady (Reprise) **

Line-up: 
Mandy Morton - lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Tom Ling - electric and acoustic violins, harpsichord
Byron Giles - electric and acoustic guitars, vocals
Alex Cooper - drums and percussion
Mike Morton - bass guitar

Guest musicians:

Tim Hart - dulcimer, vocals (of Steeleye Span)
Graeme Taylor (of Gryphon) - electric guitar
Gordon Folkard - cello and concertina
Sarah Folkard - viola
Gaynor Roberts - backing vocals (on track 2 only)

All music & lyrics by Mandy Morton,
except track 1 (by Mandy Morton and Tom Ling).
Produced by Mandy Morton and Mike Kemp.

Recorded and mixed by Mike Kemp
at "Spaceward" studios, June 1978.
Mastered at "Abbey Road" studios, London, UK.

Visit the UK's real Premier Progressive Label "Hi-Note" at http://www.hinotemusic.com/ to know what kind of music is produced by each of the four "Hi-Note" divisions: "Background", "English Garden", "Aftermath", and "Headline". You can also order any of Hi-Note's CDs online, and there are lots of (superb!) mega-rarities, apart from contemporary Progressive Rock masterpieces, in the label's back catalogue. You can find the dozens of reviews on Hi-Note's releases here on ProgressoR, as well as in the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock http://www.gepr.net/. Read also an article of the "Hi-Note Music" here.

Prologue. Mandy Morton is one of the talented English female folk singers, most of whom are well known, sadly, mainly in the UK. During her scenic career Mandy has released six albums in total: "Jack With a Feather" (1975, self-released on LP; reissued on CD by "Hi-Note"), "Revel Weird And Wind" (1976), "Time Will Pass" (1977, both on "Decca"), "Magic Lady" (1978, self-released on LP; reissued on CD by "Hi-Note"), "Sea of Storms" (1980, LP/CD by "Polydor"), and "Valley of Light" (1983, self-released on LP, reissued on CD by "Hi-Note"). While "Sea of Storms" was Mandy's commercially most successful album, "Magic Lady" was generally regarded as the most progressive one in her discography.

The Album. Actually, "Magic Lady" is the first solo album by English folk music singer Mandy Morton, while three previous albums were released under the name of "Spriguns of Tolgus". At the time Mandy was a real star of the genre (at least in the UK), so I was prepared to hear not much but usual Folk Rock on her debut solo album. To my surprise, it seems there are neither Real Folk songs nor any typical Folk-Rock songs on "Magic Lady". All baker's dozen of Magic songs, composed by Lady Mandy within united stylistics, sound original and interesting, but (to me, fortunately), there hides just a slight folk-ish spirit on the album as a whole and that even on those songs that feature traditional folk instruments (cello, viola and concertina). Bright, melodious and accessible, ten out of the thirteen tracks of the album can be easily described as songs of light Neo Progressive that can gladden a lot of Neo fans. As for the other three out of thirteen, According to Mathew, Goodbye the Day, and Witchfinder (tracks 3, 5 & 9 respectively), these wonderful songs contain really rich and large-scale instrumental arrangements, characteristic for Classic Art Rock. So they, as real progressive champions here, are absolute winners on the album.

Summary. Having the three aforementioned trumps in sleeve, "Magic Lady" has in addition another two of them. While the first would be the album's stylistic originality, which is far from the typical folk and even Folk-Rock sound (remember of Steelye Span, for example), a fifth one is excellent vocal qualities of Mandy Morton herself, though she uses her voice not quite as diversely as does Cathy Alexander from The Morrigan, a band whose albums were released on Hi-Note's division "English Garden", like Mandy Morton's. I guess, "Magic Lady" is the best album in her discography, that embodies two bands (Spriguns of Tolgus / Mandy Morton Band). A must for all lovers of Renaissance-II, III (i.e. Annie Haslam's Renaissance), Annie Haslam solo, etc.

VM. September 4, 2001


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