Read on for G’s latest fascinating finds from the World Wide Web!
CULT CLASSIC: ‘MAGIC LADY’ MANDY MORTON & SPRIGUNS
Every now and again you stumble on an album that’s so good that, once discovered, you have to ask yourself “where has this been all my life and why didn’t I know about it?” In this instance, I’m referring to ‘Magic Lady’ by Mandy Morton & Spriguns. As a teenager growing up in the 70s, I was drawn to the folk rock of Fairport Convention, Pentangle, John Martyn etc and then, later on, to all sorts of underground gems by the likes of The Trees, Mellow Candle, Vashti Bunyan, and of course the fabulously named Spriguns Of Tolgus. However, for some reason this album that came out in 1978 eluded my attention. Maybe because New Wave and punk bands were so all-consuming that my attention to what was happening in the folk world had wavered somewhat. Another reason may have been that, as it was a private pressing on the Banshee label and only 1000 copies were pressed, there would have been little chance of this making it into the racks of my local record shop—or even the main chains of the time. Little or no music press coverage meant that this definitely slipped under my musical radar.
My interest was eventually piqued by an online listing for an impossible amount of money—we’re talking Declan Rice transferring to Arsenal proportions here (well, not quite!). Also, I discovered that the title track was dedicated to Sandy Denny, who had very sadly passed away a year before. For a private pressing it’s an amazingly commercial sounding record, lyrically compelling and with a bountiful supply of memorable melodies. ‘Music Prince’ could have been a chart hit given its hooks and the esoteric nature of the top 30 in 1978. The title track as already mentioned is a touching tribute to Mandy’s heroine Sandy Denny and sets the tone for the whole album. There’s a classic stunning ballad called ‘Ghost Of A Song’ that echo’s Denny’s timeless ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ and the spine tingling ‘Witchfinder’ would surely have unnerved Vincent Price’s loathsome Matthew Hopkins (The Witchfinder General) enough to send him running back to whatever Puritan hellhole he came from!
If you don’t have the best part of a grand to stump up for an original copy, you’ll be happy to hear that the Guerson label will be reissuing it on vinyl in July and it’s also currently available on the ‘After The Storm’ Mandy Morton CD box set (via the Grapefruit label) from this very boutique. The vinyl reissue will be available to pre-order from us as well!
Clink the link here for more about Mandy’s early life—she’s a Beatles fan as well and she worked in a psychedelic boutique in Cambridge (could it be any more perfect?)—the genesis of the album, her inspirations and the idea behind the striking artwork.