It took me a couple of years, but I eventually made the effort to track down a copy of "Spring 2". I would have loved a vinyl copy (not sure they exist), but all I could find was the 2007 Second Harvest CD version (Second Harvest catalog number 417). While I was happy to have the music, the rest of the package was disappointing - little in the way of liner notes, performance credits, or biographical information. At least to my ears the sound quality was also a little on the flat side.
Whereas I was instantly attracted to "Spring", I'll readily admit it took me a couple of spins to warm up to the sophomore album. Musically it wasn't really that much different than the debut, but unlike the debut only one or two of the twelve performances jumped out at you with the same vigor as the debut. That said, the album proved to be one of those that rewarded repeated spins.
'Jack and Jill' started out with a rollicking keyboard propelled rhythm pattern before Pat Moran's instantly recognizable vocals kicked in and the song started a torturous series of tempo changes. The start and stop tempo was initially kind of jarring, but once you got into the groove it was actually kind of cool Moran's voice has always fascinated me. Technically he wasn't any great shakes as a singer, but his odd Scottish accent made for some interesting performances. 'Hendle Mews' started out as a stark, keyboard dominated ballad, but about halfway through morphed into a strange pseudo-jazzy riff. Totally unexpected and not nearly as bad as you would have thought, it actually reminds me a bit of something Vince Guaraldi might have written for a Peanuts animated special.
Another ballad, 'A Painted Ship' was probably the album's most commercial track. Sporting a beautiful, haunting melody and one of Moran's least labored vocals, this one actually had commercial potential. Opening with Kipps Brown wall-of-sound organ and Pick Withers frenetic drums, 'High Horse' found the band taking their best shot at becoming ELP clones. Moran's Greg Lake impression was quite impressive though the song itself was mediocre (like most of the ELP catalog). Nice Ray Martinez guitar solo at the end of the track.
Another of the album's more commercial track, 'Feneley Avenue' benefited from a beautiful, easygoing melody and Martinez's nicest guitar solo. Great song to ponder Martin's quirky accent. 'Helping the Helpless' came about as close to being a pop song as these guys ever came. 'A Word Full of Whispers' brought the group's renown mellotrons out in full force. Nice mid-tempo rocker which sported another tasty Martinez acoustic guitar solo. Shame the song faded out just as it was starting to pick up some steam.
The first outright disappointment, the piano-propelled ballad 'Loser' never generated much in the way of energy, sounding like a demo that the band never got around to finishing up. rating: Overlooking the awful fidelity, the song sounded like it had been recorded with the sound meters all the way in the red, 'Get My Share' was probably the album's most progressive sounding performance. Kicked along by Withers drums the track provided plenty of room for Brown to stretch out on organ and mellotron. At the same time, the song was surprisingly catchy.
An alternative version of 'Hendre Mews' this time out the song was given a much more rock oriented sound, complete with lots of Martinez lead guitar. And guess what ... This versions far superior to the other. Ironically, the alternative version of ''A Word Full of Whispers' wasn't as good. I'd place the blame on the group's decision to give this version a mild country flavor and the fact Moran's vocals came out sounding distorted.
'Fool's Gold' started out as a pretty acoustic ballad, but Martinez' chunky lead guitar quickly kicked in giving the song a much need kick in the pants. The song then opened up into a jazzy instrumental segment with some nice Martinez fuzz guitar, before closing out with a return to the original melody and an abrupt conclusion.
Not the classic the debut was, but when you consider the circumstances surrounding this one, the end results were actually surprisingly enjoyable..
1. Jack And Jim - 5:21
2. Hendre Mews - 4:38
3. A Painted Ship - 4:11
4. High Horse - 5:46
5. Fernley Avenue - 4:03
6. Helping The Helpless - 4:25
7. A World Full Of Whispers - 4:02
8. Losers - 4:00
9. Get My Share - 3:37
10.Hendre Mews (Bonus Track, Completely Different Mix) - 7:14
11.A World Full Of Whispers (Bonus Track, Different Version) - 3:57
12.Fool's Gold (Bonus Track) - 6:26
All songs by K. Brown, A. Maloney, R. Martinez, P. Moran, P.Withers.
*Kipps Brown - Keyboards
*Adrian Maloney - Bass, Guitar
*Ray Martinez - Guitar, Keyboards
*Pat Moran - Vocals, Keyboards
*Pick Withers - Drums
1971 Spring (Akarma edition)