Review Summary: Another exceptional and rather differential early-70s Brit-prog album that has been buried deeply under the surface of the genre
The fact that the band relied heavily (if not exclusively) on the mellotron for recording it’s one-shot album earned my respect. It takes up a lot of courage to depend intensely on such an unfamiliar instrument for your first recording at a time where the Hammond organ is at its peak. I would dare to say that this is a differential kind of progressive rock in the sense that it drives away from the typical ELP, YES, Barclay James Harvest and early Genesis (just to name a few) sounds. SPRING dare to take some characteristics from King Crimson and Jethro Tull and further exploit them in order to create their identity as a group. No lengthy solos, not much complication. Only creativity.
The anthemic ‘’Prisoner’’ with its smooth inaugural notes is the best song to open this piece of art since it possess the ability to outline the elements straight away and prepare the listener of what is going to follow in the rest of the album. At a similar tone ‘’Grail’’ follows and with some brilliant melodies in both piano and mellotron and with a catchy chorus manages to create a somber kind of mood and emotions that will surely surround an attentive listener. The short-length -but nevertheless- excellent ‘’Boats’’ along with ‘’Song to Absent Friends’’ represent a concise and succinct work on acoustic guitar and piano respectively, accompanying perfectly the melancholic lyrical content in each case.
‘’Shipwrecked Soldier’’ is one of the solid songs of the album since it combines some irresistible melodies and some rhythmic snare-drum patterns that match perfectly to the song’s overall picture but clearly that’s not ‘IT’. What I would describe as one of the highlights of the album is ‘’Golden Fleece’’. A song that starts from some simple violin playing and soon the acoustic guitar and the catchy chorus will build it up to become ready for that insane organ-mellotron-guitar solo somewhere in the middle. The epilogue is written with ‘’Gazing’’, a song that fits perfectly to the mood and emotion of the album but I have the sense that could have been much more memorable if it had catchiness and more virtuosity in its performance.
All in all, It is a coherent album with much creativity and excellent lyricism. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get it at once. If you do, that’s great, if you don’t give it another couple of times.
- The Prisoner (eight by ten)
- Golden Fleece