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MARIANNE SEGAL The Gathering Snow Beach (2008)

Marianne Segal

New recordings dragged by peers and acolytes from obscure folk rockers from the early '70s can be musical curate's eggs. Actually, that's being charitable - many fail. They embarrass us because they are labours of love that are not making the mark and we can smell the fear and sense the collective rictal grin of lost hope shared by all involved as they slog their way through the recording. This is a delicious exception.

Marianne Segal fronted cult act Jade, whose 1970 sole release 'Fly On Strange Wings' is celebrated rightly as a particularly fine example of the genre and period: all floppy hats, crushed velvet loons and some fabulous tunes. This incredibly is her first return to the studio and it's a triumph.

The songs are a beguiling mix of balladry, roots, anthemic and the childlike Vashti-esque. Drawing from her life experiences and the environs of the Sussex Downs, The Gathering celebrates the full-throated songstress in eclectic company including Circulus's Mike Tyack, Napalm Death's Bill Steer and Root Cartwright, former member of fellow '70's folk-beat-freak travellers, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre (an early signing by John Peel, who found them 'terrifying').

The performances are spot on: linked by tiny vignettes, the songs traverse the straight ballad of 'September Song' to the festival-friendly 'Root People', and on to the the sweet simplicity of hidden track 'Little Lucy' by way of the gorgeous and processional 'Saints On Tapestry', a memorable builder with Segal's clear voice soaring, filled with sensitively complementary lead guitar from Steer. It may have taken 37 years, but Marianne Segal has not been away.


Review by Peter Muir

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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