Mandy Morton And Spriguns - Magic Lady (1978)
Who would have believed what talent there would be inside Mandy Morton? It seems that no one were aware of her skills not even herself. Not even when her musical career started, was she given the homage she so rightly deserved.
Her career started of as playing as a duo with her husband Mike Morton. The couple played as a Cambridge folk-duo on Friday and Saturday nights at the Anchor pub in Silver Street, Cambridge. They recieved a growing following, and the duo turned into a band: Spriguns Of Tolgus. They became a known and beloved act in the sorroundings of Cambridge, and their following soon demanted some album releases. Their 1974 privately released cassette was sold to students at live performances and less than 50 copies were produced. The cassette format has ensured that their value has not reached the epic proportions of the vinyl
follow-up Jack With A Feather from 1975, which boasted better sound quality and duplicated some material from the earlier cassette. The playing on the album was good and almost all the material was traditional.
After this Spriguns Of Tolgus did break up as a band, but mr. & mrs. Morton continued working with music. They soon were ready to make new recordings. This band did however abbreviate the name to Spriguns. In 1976 they released Revel Weird And Wild which consisted of only of songs written by members of the band, although some of the songs were more or less stolen from traditional songs. Already at this time Mandy was clearly in control of the band, written most of the material. The following year they made Time Will Pass, were Mandy now were the only songwriter in the band, the album were more aggressive than it's predecessor, and the music, all written by Mandy, seemed to go in a new direction. Mandy's lyrics were still mostly about knight and ladies from a time long ago. Both albums were recorded for the famous label Decca.
Spriguns was now totally the vehicle of talented vocalist Mandy Morton. And the next step was only naturel, Spriguns did now only seem as being Mandy Morton with a backing band. And so she rebaptised Spriguns into Mandy Morton And Spriguns and made Magic Lady in 1978.
It was this album that introduced me to Mandy's music: I borrowed the cd in the summer 1999, because I knew that my music hero Graeme Taylor was playing on the album. But soon I fell for Mandy's songs.
Now performing only as Mandy Morton she recorded Sea Of Storms in 1980. And then three years did pass until her six and final release: Valley Of Light. This album is the only one not to feature Mandy's husband Mike Morton, and so Mandy was now the only one who had been al the way from Jack With A Feather in 1975. After the album Mandy retired from music. The last three albums were recorded either for Polydor or Banshee.
This page is in memory of her indescribably perfect efforts on these albums, which all are of sublime songwritingship, I know I've heard them all!!! (Thanks to http://www.geocities.com/fantasticmandy/)
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. (www.progressor.net)
1. Magic Lady 2:28
2. Music Prince 3:19
3. According To Mathew 3:29
4. Little Inbetween 1:35
5. Goodbye The Day 4:25
6. Silence Do The Rest 3:00
7. The Lady 3:12
8. White Ship 2:44
9. Witchfinder 3:41
10. Gypsy Glass 3:48
11. Ghost Of A Song 2:59
12. Winter Storms 2:58
13. Magic Lady Reprise 0:52