Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Gather in the Mushrooms – Various Artists [#511]

Gather in the mushroomsGather in the Mushrooms  is a compilation album featuring tracks by acid folk bands from 1968-1974.

As a prog fan, it is only natural that I have a penchant for music often classed as acid folk, which, one could argue, is a shared root for the mighty tree of progressive rock in the forest of alternative adult music.

This album was kindly “donated” to me by a dear ex-work colleague with whom we share similar tastes in music and interests in media and popular culture. When I saw the artist listing I was further excited to see artists such as Sallyangie (Sally Oldfield, Mike Oldfield‘s sister, with whom he began his career), Pentangle, Magnet and Spirogyra, all of whom have connection within this music project.

Hauntology at its best, Gather in the Mushrooms provides a soundtrack for a period when Canterbury was just begining to burgeon and fills the minds eye with images of green home county villages populated with beautiful long haired tie-dye be-dressed lady hippies like in some Avengers/Hammer Horror/sci-fi TV/Film that was never made. Beautiful tracks like Sandy Denny’s pre-Fairport Milk and Honey, Trader Horne’s post-Fairport Morning Way and the largely forgotten Forest’s Graveyard not only provide a powerful aural illustration for the genre but create a fitting tribute to a time that existed for a few but was appreciated by many.

This has largely become my third most favourite compilation of the past decade.

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Fish Rising – Steve Hillage [#476]

220px-Steve_Hillage_Fish_RisingUncelebrated guitar king and one time Gong member, Steve Hillage’s first solo album following his departure from Gong.

By all other regards, this really sounds like a Gong album. It has Gong members Howlett, Moerlen, Blake and Malherbe but also features Dave “no the other one” Stewart who you might know from helping to arrange Fear of a Blank Planet or his work with Barbara “Spirogyra” Gaskin or his TV work.

This is exactly what I like about prog. Former band mates, guys you meet in the pub and pals from different groups getting together to make music. You don’t get that in modern times. You never see the likes of Gary Barlow getting together with say, H from Steps, Noel from Oasis and Mel C to do an album about a fish. For a start their agents and recording labels wouldn’t allow it but also it’d be complete bollocks.

As I said, Fish Rising by all accounts sounds like a Gong album but without the Gnomes, Pixies and Flying Teapots. A more relaxed background album than a fully fledged “concentrate or you’ll miss it” progressive concept album. It is however something you – if you’re a fan of Gong, Hillage or embarking on a life changing journey through prog – might want to listen to as an appreciation exercise to see if you can detect distinctive musical styles and flourishes. Or maybe you’re just high on something and have the old oil projection lamps going and need something to help you focus on.


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Burn the Bridges: Demo Tapes 1970-1971 – Spirogyra (#232)

Burn the Bridges - SpirogyraBurn the Bridges: Demo Tapes 1970-1971 – Spirogyra 

Spirogyra are a Canterbury scene band prominent in the underground prog-folk scene during the 1960s and 1970s.

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#146 – Bell Boots & Shambles – Spirogyra

SpirogyraBell Boots & Shambles – Spirogyra

The most influential prog folk band of their time and yet few people have heard of them. Spirogyra were formed at the height of the Canterbury scene and comprised of Martin Cockerham, Mark Francism Barbara Gaskin, Julian Cusack and Steve Borrill.

Angry progressive folk with political overtones. Just what today’s folk lacks. Significantly. Show of Hands doesn’t count.


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