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Tracklist: 1. Magic Lady 2. Music Prince 3. According to Mathew 4. Little In Between 5. Goodbye the Day 6. Silence Do the Rest 7. The Lady 8. White Ship 9. Witchfinder 10. Gypsy Glass 11. Ghost of a Song 12. Winter Storms * 13. Magic Lady (Reprise) ** Line-up: Mandy Morton - lead vocals, acoustic guitar Tom Ling - electric and acoustic violins, harpsichord Byron Giles - electric and acoustic guitars, vocals Alex Cooper - drums and percussion Mike Morton - bass guitar Guest musicians: Tim Hart - dulcimer, vocals (of Steeleye Span) Graeme Taylor (of Gryphon) - electric guitar Gordon Folkard - cello and concertina Sarah Folkard - viola Gaynor Roberts - backing vocals (on track 2 only) All music & lyrics by Mandy Morton, except track 1 (by Mandy Morton and Tom Ling). Produced by Mandy Morton and Mike Kemp. Recorded and mixed by Mike Kemp at "Spaceward" studios, June 1978. Mastered at "Abbey Road" studios, London, UK.
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Prologue. Mandy Morton is one of the talented English female folk singers, most of whom are well known, sadly, mainly in the UK. During her scenic career Mandy has released six albums in total: "Jack With a Feather" (1975, self-released on LP; reissued on CD by "Hi-Note"), "Revel Weird And Wind" (1976), "Time Will Pass" (1977, both on "Decca"), "Magic Lady" (1978, self-released on LP; reissued on CD by "Hi-Note"), "Sea of Storms" (1980, LP/CD by "Polydor"), and "Valley of Light" (1983, self-released on LP, reissued on CD by "Hi-Note"). While "Sea of Storms" was Mandy's commercially most successful album, "Magic Lady" was generally regarded as the most progressive one in her discography.
The Album. Actually, "Magic Lady" is the first solo album by English folk music singer Mandy Morton, while three previous albums were released under the name of "Spriguns of Tolgus". At the time Mandy was a real star of the genre (at least in the UK), so I was prepared to hear not much but usual Folk Rock on her debut solo album. To my surprise, it seems there are neither Real Folk songs nor any typical Folk-Rock songs on "Magic Lady". All baker's dozen of Magic songs, composed by Lady Mandy within united stylistics, sound original and interesting, but (to me, fortunately), there hides just a slight folk-ish spirit on the album as a whole and that even on those songs that feature traditional folk instruments (cello, viola and concertina). Bright, melodious and accessible, ten out of the thirteen tracks of the album can be easily described as songs of light Neo Progressive that can gladden a lot of Neo fans. As for the other three out of thirteen, According to Mathew, Goodbye the Day, and Witchfinder (tracks 3, 5 & 9 respectively), these wonderful songs contain really rich and large-scale instrumental arrangements, characteristic for Classic Art Rock. So they, as real progressive champions here, are absolute winners on the album.
Summary. Having the three aforementioned trumps in sleeve, "Magic Lady" has in addition another two of them. While the first would be the album's stylistic originality, which is far from the typical folk and even Folk-Rock sound (remember of Steelye Span, for example), a fifth one is excellent vocal qualities of Mandy Morton herself, though she uses her voice not quite as diversely as does Cathy Alexander from The Morrigan, a band whose albums were released on Hi-Note's division "English Garden", like Mandy Morton's. I guess, "Magic Lady" is the best album in her discography, that embodies two bands (Spriguns of Tolgus / Mandy Morton Band). A must for all lovers of Renaissance-II, III (i.e. Annie Haslam's Renaissance), Annie Haslam solo, etc.
VM. September 4, 2001
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