Spring - Spring [Expanded]

(2CD 2015, 39:28/ 56:52, Esoteric ECLEC22495)

The tracks:
Spring Remastered
  1- The Prisoner (Eight By Ten)
  2- Grail
  3- Boats
  4- Shipwrecked Sailor
  5- Golden Fleece
  6- Inside Out
  7- Song To Absent Friends (The Island)
  8- Gazing
Demos And Additional Recordings 1971
  1- Devil's Bandits (Jack & Jim)
  2- Hendre Mews (First Version)
  3- Word Full Of Whispers
  4- Painted Ship
  5- High Horses
  6- Fernleigh Avenue
  7- Blackbird (Helping The Helpless)
  8- Beautiful Losers
  9- Flying Is An Easy Speed (Get My Share)
10- Fool's Gold
11- Hendre Mews (Extended Version)
12- Word Full Of Whispers (Alternate Version)

Esoteric Recordings

Here we have another fine reissue of a classic album that is famous for its extensive use of Mellotron. Spring was a British band of the early 1970s. Kingsley Ward (of the Rockfield Studios) had spent many months to look after talent in the country. When he returned to his hometown he met a group called Spring. They had a broken down truck and Kingsley acquainted himself with the unfortunate band. His first impression of the band was good, especially with the use of a Mellotron drawing his attention! He invited them to the Rockfield Studios for an audition. It sounded good enough to get Kingsley involved with Spring. Over a period of two years, the band gigged a lot and made numerous demos. Eventually a producer friend called Gus Dudgeon (he was also an experienced studio technician) took over the care of the band. Gus had worked with the young Eric Clapton during his time with The Bluesbrakers and with the promising David Bowie in his early years. He was convinced by the band's original sound and set the stage for the release of their debut album in 1971. Alas there never came a second album until as a posthumous release many, many years later.

There have been several previous reissues since the 1990s (by Repertoire, The Laser's Edge and also a couple of more dubious CD versions that exist) and now Esoteric did yet another - as usually remastered - with two bonus tracks added to the original album and the unreleased second album added, presenting the entire back catalogue of Spring on one double-CD.
The debut is an obligatory album for all Mellotron fans! At times they employ such a wall of Tron that I just get shivers and goosebumps all over my body. Regrettably not all tracks manage to excite me alike. Most pieces bring excellent early symphonic prog (with the aforementioned Tron galore). Often Spring shows musical comparisons to The Moody Blues - check for example the first part Grail. In the second part of that piece the band launches into some extremely bombastic and dramatic music before lightening up. But a few pieces sound a bit primitive, like Procol Harum, but without that band's soul and warmth. Yet, the majority of the pieces are a sympho-prog feast, so recommended nevertheless. One interesting piece is the short Boats with its folky flair and vocals that remind me of Greg Lake.

The unreleased second effort is a tad less refined and more rocky with less massive use of Mellotron. Even so the album should be a pleasant experience for fans of 1970s prog with plenty of vintage keys (in High Horse it's even as if Keith Emerson plays the organ). I'd like to single out A Painted Ship with its great organ playing.

By the way, some trivia: the drummer indeed is future Dire Straits drummer Pick Withers.

****- (debut) *** (second album) Carsten Busch (edited by Robert James Pashman)

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