Spring: Spring (1971)
Spring, from Leicestershire (same area of England that brought us bands like Family and Pesky Gee/Black Widow) was one of many British prog rock bands that was not very well known, but their one and only album is a wonderful example of early progressive rock. And if you’re a Mellotron fan, then you gotta own this album, since the band is credited with three guys playing Mellotron (vocalist Pat Moran, guitarist Ray Martinez, and keyboardist Kips Brown).
Another musician of note in this band was drummer Pick Withers (who was then known as Picque Withers). This guy would later be a member of Dire Straits, but Spring’s music is way different from the pub rock/roots/country sound of that band. In fact Spring’s music is more like the Moody Blues, but somewhat more edgy, and more down to earth lyrics.
Vocalist Pat Moran does tend to have a peculiar voice and his voice does need to getting used to, but the album itself is full of goodies like “The Prisoner (Eight by Ten)”, “Grail”, the acoustic singalong “Boats”, “Shipwrecked Soldier” and the Mellotron epic “Golden Fleece”. “Song to Absent Friends (The Island)” is the odd piece here, as it’s basically a piano-oriented ballad that sounds something like Elton John would do (Gus Dudgeon, who produced Elton John’s albums also produced the Spring album). But then the song segues in to “Gazing” which goes back to the Mellotron-heavy prog rock the band is best known for.
There’s a couple of weaker songs on here, but nothing I would consider rejects. And if you’re wondering if all three guys are playing the Mellotron all at once, you bet they are, all this album was recorded live in the studio with the only overdubbing being the acoustic guitar. For the first few listens, you might not even like this album, but if you listen to it enough times, you’re bound to enjoy this quite a lot.
The CD reissue also includes three bonus cuts (“Fool’s Gold”, “Hendre Mews” and “A Word Full of Whispers”) that were from sessions of a never-completed second album from 1972. Although many people think these are weak songs, I don’t think so, they’re excellent, although Mellotron is completely lacking (replaced by Hammond organ), and is worthy. The original LP was released on RCA/Neon and comes in a triple gatefold cover (similar to Yes’ Going For the One, although the artwork is nothing like that Yes album).
The music of Spring isn’t the most complex on the face of the planet, but if you’re a fan of such early British prog acts as Beggars Opera, Cressida, Gracious, Fantasy, or even the Moody Blues, for that matter, you’re certain to enjoy their music.
– Pat Moran: vocals, Mellotron
– Ray Martinez: lead guitar, Mellotron, twelve-string guitar
– Adrian `Bone` Maloney: bass
– Pique Withers: drums, glockenspiel
– Kips Brown: piano, organ, Mellotron