Decca 1976 / Esoteric 2013
Tightening the spring, or the rock graduation of Cambridge traditionalists.
The warmest folk fashioners this side of Sandy-fronted F-collectives, by the time this band have shortened their name from SPRIGUNS OF TOLGUS for a tauter approach and inked a deal with Decca, the Blighty climes had moved on from the rustic revivalism to the more wired charge. Both the ensemble and STEELEYE SPAN’s Tim Hart, their usual producer, sensed the change too well, and their third album is a reflection of new times, the most obvious example being “Laily Worm”, one of the Child Ballads which appeared on the band’s inaugural tape “Rowdy, Dowdy Day” in 1974 and makes a welcome electric return here, alongside other traditional fate that Mandy Morton rejigged with a modern edge.
There’s clever pop freshness in the middle section of the “Sir Colvin” delicately-orchestrated drama, and in the acoustic, piano-led “Trysting Tree” and aching “When Spring Comes In”, wherein BJ Cole’s pedal steel pours mead, even though single “Nothing Else To Do” sounds too light. It’s the heaviosity of “Outlandish Knight” that makes its drift riveting before Dick Powell’s guitar riffs let Tom Ling’s fiddle reels in, while the well-plugged strumming renders “Lord Lovell” such a majestic proposition. In fact, that goes for the whole album: take its title as a command, then, even though the band’s finest hour would come a bit later.