SPIROGYRA – Bells, Boots And Shambles

Polydor 1973 / Esoteric 2013

SPIROGYRA - Bells, Boots And Shambles

Bells, Boots And Shambles

A final installment of a gloomy trilogy that perished under its own weight.

It was the end for this band who never enjoyed the commercial success they deserved; more so, impressive sales could have contradicted Martin Cockerham’s socialist outlook. By 1973, he and Barbara Gaskin, now a romantic couple, remained the core of the ensemble who, on their last classic album, veered away from the progressive path of "Old Boot Wine" and returned to the pastures of "St. Radigunds" – but not directly.

“The Furthest Point,” which opens this record – “Bells, Boots And Shambles” being a great description of its multi-part inner mechanics – is slow to reveal the delights announced by Henry Lowther’s trumpet, as a spoken-word preamble entails rather lazy vocalizing and theatrical performance, yet once the dramatic piano chimes in strange, modern magic begins to form. The previous LP’s title track, making its debut here, and a minute-long “Spiggly” pour a grey, flute-enhanced melancholy into it, only to be contrasted with the epic “In The Western World.”

Big and energetic, close to the elegant unplugged vigor of their contemporaries RENAISSANCE, the composition draws on cello and flute for the heightened impact and features the variety of moods conveyed in a different voices from Barbara and Martin – either duetting or singing separately – before climaxing with a solemn glory. And while “The Sergeant Says” and bonus “I Hear You’re Going Somewhere” pitch a pale smile of a stinging satire into the context, the punchline to the album would be “An Everyday Consumption Song,” a dark velvet piece floating on the low-toned ebb and flow, a rumination on the futility of it all, the “my life is useless” sentiment aimed at the heart of the ballad’s beauty.

A pity, SPIROGYRA didn’t get out of this pit and broke up soon after this album’s release, and the band’s reunions that have been happening since 2009 didn’t have neither Gaskin, nor magic involved.


December 20, 2014

Category(s): Reissues
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