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‘SPIROGYRA’ FAN MAIL EXCERPTS
The following are excerpts from fan mail sent to Martin Cockerham of ‘Spirogyra’. They are exact quotes and the original letters can testify to that fact. They are followed by fans reviews of the albums posted at various web sites like amazon.com
"My name is Oliver, I’m 27 years old and living in Vienna, Austria. I love to discover the music of the 60’s and 70’s and I can’t imagine better music of that time than this magic psychedelic folkrock sound with some nice political statements than you made with the group ‘Spirogyra’ Oliver Davy email@example.com
"I have been able to obtain all the ‘Spirogyra’ re-issues on CD .... I particularly love ‘In The Western World’. The quality of the ‘Burn The Bridges’ demos is musically and technically excellent, and I look forward to more of your stuff. I hope you have had a happy life since you left England. You seem cheerful and younger than me (44) in the pictures on your web site! Your career, and those of the other members of your band, except for Barbara, have not been well documented and they do deserve hearing, maybe in a magazine like Mojo. I think sometimes the people with the most musical talent like you are not always commercially successful. Looking forward to more of your music being available."
"Spirogyra songs are really great. It’s a pity the band weren’t acknowledged at the time, but better late than never."
"My name is Dave Jordan. I live in London, Canada. I must tell you with the utmost sincerity that your music is absolutely brilliant. Just this week, I took delivery of ‘Burn The Bridges’ from Si-Wan Records in Korea – to complete my collection – having already purchased your other 3 records on cd.
I am most grateful to Si-Wan for issuing such a terrific package and especially for printing the lyrics to your songs, whereas Repertoire does not – because your words are the best part!
For me, early 70’s progressive music, especially in the UK, was the pinnacle of intelligent and sophisticated music, and your songs are right at the top. For me it is the dichotomy of your voice singing opposite Barbara that achieves such a stunning effect.
In closing, may I ask you a question? Are you going to record any new material? I hope the answer is yes. And if so I really hope that Barbara will be able to join you. The time is ripe and the world is waiting. It is my belief that you have a core of very dedicated fans all over the world and we are starving! You have a rare gift and we all want to hear more. If the answer is no, thank you so much for what you have done – for which I am most grateful and will always cherish. Respectfully yours, Dave.
"Undisputedly, at the top of the progressive food chain is ‘Spirogyra’ – the brainchild of its brilliant creator, Martin Cockerham. If you surf the eBay world, every month or so an original ‘Spirogyra’ LP is auctioned. The bidding is frantic. It seems to me the interest is rabid and the appetite is unsatiable. Can you imagine what these same folks would do if they found out that some new material was available from ‘Spirogyra’. Well I can, and I can assure you that I wouldn’t be the only person waiting in line to make a purchase!!!"
Dave Jordan, Proprietor DRS Records, Canada
"As far as I’m concerned, your unreleased songs, even if of poor sound quality, are far better than most artists polished material. I presently own 42 of your songs and I love them all. I would gladly buy several copies of any new release as soon as it became available."
I listened to the new cd – ‘Burn The Bridges’ – and it really is great. It amazes me how outtakes of my favourite musicians sound so much better than the polished work of so many famous bands. I even bought the Si-Wan package (although I already had the album) just to get the one new song they included. By the way, when I do play ‘Spirogyra’ music for people, I find most really enjoy it tremendously.
David Hintz, Colorado, USA
"I have just bought ‘Burn The Bridges’ and thought I’d write and thank you for the years of listening pleasure. A friend of a friend played me all three albums back to back in 1973. I bought ‘Old Boot Wine’ but very foolishly gave it to someone as a present. I bought ‘St Radigund’s’ in 1974 and’Bells Boots & Shambles’ in 1975 and listened to both regularly throughout the 70’s and 80’s until I got a cd player and my LP’s started to gather dust. I was overjoyed when Repertoire released the three albums on cd and promptly bought all 3. When my house got broken into they were stolen so I had to buy them again – but maybe the burglar became a fan!! So far I’ve only played ‘Burn The Bridges’ once but am sure it will be a regular feature on the Cd player. Thank you for the music!!!"
My name is Chris Pilgrim and I am a fan. I’ve just got ‘Burn The Bridges’ and have enjoyed it very much!!!!!! I would love to know if you still play live. It would be a real treat to see you playing with the others – or any of the band. It’s very good music!! I’m 25 years old and would rather see ‘Spirogyra’ live than anything else and I’m not lying. I’m the proud owner of all three albums on original vinyl as I thought they were worth the big money. Good luck Matey." Chris Pilgrim
"I thought I’d write just to say that I really like the two ‘Spirogyra’ albums I own – ‘Old Boot Wine’ and ‘St. Radigund’s’ – and I’ve been spreading the word! My Mam gave them to me when I was about 13 and I have loved them ever since (I’m 21 now). My friend and I wrote you a letter back then but didn’t know where to send it! There are a few people on the mojo4music.com message boards wondering about your whereabouts. Do you have a current website? Hope everything is going well for you.
"I’ve heard ‘Burn The Bridges’ and thought that it was excellent. Very powerful!
Thanks, Rebecca Jade.
"I’m very happy you have started to play with some of your old band. I’m sure you can do something of good like in your beautiful period with ‘Spirogyra’. I think you was the most inspired musicians in that period – maybe more inspired than Syd Barret. I think your voice – it’s the best example in the acid folk because resume without any effort the psychedelic face of the folk progressive. Sic
Your 3 LP’s are a legend in the records collecting and I can tell you so because I’m one of the most important record dealer in Europe ... my site it’s called Astral Dream Records and I try to have a copy of your album always – but these are very difficult to find nowadays. I wish for you all the best because I’m sure you’re a very nice person and because you have gived me the most high musical emotion in my life." Cheers Lucio
"I first heard music of Spirogyra when I was in South Korea. ‘Spirogyra’ is quite well known within the progressive rock community in South Korea. Since then, ‘Spirogyra’ has been one of my favourite progressive bands of all time. I have heard quite a lot of British folk rock, including Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Mellow Candle, Trees, Pentangle, just to name a few. But, to my ears Spirogyra is THE best folk rock ever!!. Spirogyra has impressed and inspired me so much that the other bands could never compete.
Of course I heard all three studio albums and recent ‘Burn The Bridges’. My favourite tracks are ‘Cogwheels Crutches & Cyanide’ and ‘The Duke of Beaufort’. I know that many ‘Spirogyra’ fans are attracted by Barbara Gaskin’s vocal. For the first few listens I was also mostly interested in her vocal parts. But after many listens and after hearing all the albums, I find your vocal parts more impressive. Anyhow, it’s a pity that ‘Spirogyra’ is often considered Barbara Gaskin’s band. No doubt that you are by far the main character of the band, either composition or performance wise.
I really wish Spirogyra had existed longer. I really wish I had more ‘Spirogyra’ albums to listen to. Thank you very much for the wonderful music. With best regards, Sanghyun Park, Korea
This is a demo? The sound quality's great and the songs are just outstanding. I mean, I love their studio albums to death-- but the tunes included here are more expressive, more passionate than anything on their studio albums. The style here is folkier than on the studio albums, but man oh man, are the songs good. Barbara Gaskin's never sounded better. For anyone who likes Spirogyra, this is a must-have. For anyone who wants to find out about Spirogyra, this is a great place to start (although it *is* a bit different than their studio sound). Absolutely brilliant from the opening track "Turn Again Lane" to the closer "Burn the Bridges'. Wow-- thank goodness these tracks were salvaged from the archive before it was too late. May 2, 2001 "The band's best material!
Amazon Reviewer: A music fan from Silicon Valley, CA USA
"World's Best Progressive Folk", July 24, 2000
Reviewer: Bette Cataldo from Santa Fe, NM United States
"I am always on the search for cutting edge progressive folk music. I look for originality of music/melody and for cutting edge poetry. This rates as the best folk music I've heard since the late 60's hey day. These songs are heart moving and guaranteed tear bringers. It's too bad this band broke up, otherwise they would have been gigantic. The violin playing of Julian Cusack is supercharged energy. Steve Borrill rocks on bass. The silky english sound of Barabara Gaskin's vocals are without compare and of course Martin Cockerham is the greatest undiscovered song writer in the world today. This whole album was recorded live without any multi tracking. No electronic gadgets and just pure energy. Can't find anything like it these days.
"Best Songs Since The Sixties!", June 29, 2000
Reviewer: Moses Mooneagle from San Francisco, CA, United States
"This may be a demo, but it has the best songs I've heard in ages. This is classic folk which reminds me of the best of Dylan, The Beatles or Neil Young in the 60's early 70's. It's a rough recording (demo) but if you have a heart you'll be moved by this legendary english folk band from Canterbury".
"Canterbury Folk Classic", November 19, 2002
Reviewer: Robert Carlberg from Seattle
"This third album (Bells Boots & Shambles) by Spirogyra is in many ways their most progressive -- flutes, trumpets, cellos, treated vocals, long instrumental sections -- and of course it features singer Barbara Gaskin, later of Hatfield and The North, National Health and the famed Dave Stewart/Barbara Gaskin juggernaut. All songs and male vocals are by Martin Cockerham, who writes very hummable tunes with biting lyrics. I hate to call it a "lost classic" since many people did discover it (just not me).
"Great, Wonderfull", July 29, 1999
Reviewer: firstname.lastname@example.org from Chiclayo, Perú
"This is the most fantastic Disc in the Word" (Bells Boots & Shambles)
MASTERPIECE OF MASTERPIECES: ‘St. RADIGUND’S’ - 5 STARS
"First off, make certain you get the SECOND edition of this CD. It was REMASTERED at singer Barbara Gaskins insistance-the first pressing used rotted tapes for reasons unfathomable. This being their first album, came out on the PEGASUS label in 1971. It has a dark raw country-folk sound. It is well recorded. Some of the standouts are songs with historical and seafaring contexts: The future wont be long; Islands, Duke of Bueafoot. This was perhaps the bestselling of the SPIROGYRA albums.
SPIROGYRA was started in the UK by Martin Cockerham, later joined by the lovely voice of Barbara Gaskin, with able assistance from regulars Julian Cusak, and Steve Borril. Guests usually included, among others, Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention, on drums. This music has a lyrical, compositional quality, overall. It would have to be considered 'acid folk rock', not too wierd, but with touches of middle eastern, classical, and medieval influence. The music can be jarring or dreamy, acidly bitter, or gently evocative of green fields and forests, the ocean, and of the magick of days gone by.....or perhaps pointed comments on love, or the social order... The lyrics are written with wit, sarcasm, intelligence and a sense of wonder by Martin Cockerham, who sings also. Ms. Gaskins instrument is her voice, which is the sound of velvet, flowing and...feminine. Adding to that the string pyrotechnics of Cusack-who can play both very avant-garde, as well as down home fiddlin in style, weaving in, above and amongst the songs. Add to that the very busy, fluid, yet always just in the right places bass guitar of Borrill, and you have a group that will give you a taste of the sixties that you never knew existed. I cant recommend this group highly enough, if you like Folk Rock with a sense of pizzaz, history, romance, wit and irony..."
" I got interested in Spirogyra in the early seventies when I was a teenager. Somehow I discovered Spirogyra and was thrilled about the music. At the time I couldn’t afford buying record albums so I taped most songs (sorry...) on my reel to reel tape recorder. For many years then on I was searching for ‘Bells Boots & Shambles’ which I claimed to be a must have album because of the shear quality of the songs and musical arrangements. I was never able to find this masterpiece. However I kept searching all these years and in the mid nineties I found the CD version of this album in Utrecht and I was soooooo happy. Finally I got my masterpiece. Later I also found ‘Old Boot Wine’ and I was quite surprised and thrilled again when ‘ Burn The Bridges’ was released.. It would be great to learn more about the life and times of Martin Cockerham!"
Kees Van Der Lely, Dordrecht, Holland
"My ‘Spirogyra’ cd’s arrived on Friday and I’ve been playing them constantly ever since they dropped through the letter box! The ‘Valley of Kings’ album of yours is very good and I thought the keyboard playing is excellent. It seems strange to hear you voice minus guitar. Would you let me know which others are available as I’d like to get more1"
John Sherbourne, Somerset
"A web page for ‘Spirogyra’ is a great idea and I’d love to build one. It would be a pleasure"
Lior Arbel, Israel
"I’m back in Switzerland. At this moment happily I listen your album – St Radigund’s and I smoke a big spleef"
"I’ve been a ‘Spiro' fan since the early 70’s when I got the first two albums. St Rad’s is my favourite by quite a long way. I’ve been playing it for nearly 30 years and it’s still my favourite album of all time. I’d love to get any previously unheard Spirogyra recordings no matter how bad the sound quality."
"I am an Italian fan of 70’s folk rock music. Yesterday I have purchased ‘Burn The Bridges’ a very good album indeed and I compliment you! Your music is very dear to me. Does with thing now deal yourself? Sic Are you to the current one of future jobs of Barbara? Sic
I greet you and wish you a happy New Year!
"There’s only one Martin! We may have a million successful ideas - but Martin’s gonna follow through!" Michael Rogers (‘Jus Luv’ – founder and session player – Hollywood, LA)
"My name is Anonymous. I'm a professional opera singer. I write to tell you that today is one of the most beautiful days of my life !!! I bought in a shop the CD ‘Burn The Bridges’. What I wanted to tell you is that since about 25 years I wished to know what happened to you after ‘Spirogyra’ disbanded.... I don’t want to bore you with sad stuff, but after spending so many years of my life listening to those 3 wonderful albums, I really considered this music as a concrete part of me, it crept inside my personality and made deep furrows while I was building a perspective of my own. Discovering that in some part of this world ("It’s so wide...") you’re alive, this believe me – gave me such a great impulse, it made me feel suddenly full of power, it gave me even a new will to carry on! Dearest martin, excuse me if I take all this confidence to myself, but for many years you’ve really been like a brother to me, a kind of fellow traveller, the lighthouse of my inspiration, the only one who gave me the certainty that I was not alone against the empering schizophreny of the regimes of the armies of the solid established catholic business etc. I have been one of the very few who have been able to do this, especially in Italy, since the mid seventies on, because I’m a hard extreme collector of albums of British folk. How many times, at my place, together with some friends, in some afternoons spent listening together to your unbelievable albums, we were left astonished at the end, looking in one another’s eyes, wondering what kind of s... justice was there left, if such a great artist, a great HUMAN BEING, with such a deep soul and finesse of expression, like you, had suddenly to disappear without ever giving any news of himself.... Like with somebody who left for the war and never came alive, while the people at home wait hoping, in anxiety, until they reach a point that so much time has passed by and it’s not possible to wait and hope anymore... Dearest dearest martin, after so many jewels that you presented to me in your LP’s, I must thank you very much from the deep of my heart, for giving me this latest surprise, with the hope that maybe one day I can meet you. maybe shake your hand, or even only see you from afar, telling to myself "Look, there goes one of the greatest friends that I ever had in my life, how lucky I’ve been that I met him,, may God bless him!!!" May heaven listen to your prayers and answer them!"
"Burn the Bridges’ is really something fabulous. Incredible that a group would decide not to include in the first LP’s such wonderful songs!........ What a marvel it would be if it would really be possible to see a new LP again with you and the ghostly delicate Barbara. I tell you I know many people who wouldn’t even believe their eyes and ears. Would the world of true music lovers be finally allowed to see a new dawn approaching after such a long darkness?" Anonymous, Austria