MORRIGAN – The Morrigan Rides Out

Although strictly speaking outside the timescale of this column, the music on this album is steeped in the 70’s, so I am including it. The Morrigan released this, their debut album, in 1990, and it soon became regarded as something of a classic of the folk-rock genre. Mixing traditional songs with self-composed material, the band produced a timeless album which would have sounded contemporary at any time in the previous twenty years. They open with an original tune, which after a slow build-up featuring flutes and fiddle gradually brings in the rock element with electric guitars. ‘Night Comes Closer’ is an original story song featuring both female lead vocalists, Cathy Alexander and Melanie Byfield, and yet it sounds more traditional than some of the older material. ‘The Rakes’ mixes a trad. tune overlaid with prog synths with a folk song where the lead guitar takes on the parts normally played on the fiddle. Other tracks vary between the harpsichord and recorder duet of ‘The Black Nag’ and the atmospheric ‘Corpus Christi’, where the eerie backing vocals give the song a distinctly spooky feel. ‘Four Times Over’ has a middle eight slightly reminiscent of Steeleye Span, but considering that they are both playing electric folk-rock that is the only time that the band’s sounds overlap. Vinyl copies are almost impossible to find (I eventually got mine from Kev, after he promised me that he would send it on about four years ago. He will be kicking himself when he learns that it is now worth about £40), but there is a CD re-issue doing the rounds, and the band have also released a number of other albums in the past few years. As far as I am concerned it was well worth the wait to hear this album, as it is every bit as good as I hoped it would be, and shows that good folk-rock did not die out in the late 70’s.