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A Bucketful of Life

Spinaker (1974)

Recorded at Weir Studios in Brighton (actually a carpetted garage kitted out with a domestic tape recorder and a stereo microphone), this album showcases the blend of vocal gymnastics, acoustic guitar work  featuring both pleckypick and doublestrumming along with the buzzing stringbass magic which was Spinaker.

Variously billed as folk, harmony and gospel rhythm (whatever that is in the mind of a Salvation Army Tambourinist), Spinaker gigged extensively, rehearsed unrelentingly and loved unwisely but with enthusiasm.

The album features.the vocal talents of Dick Hines, who takes the lead most of the time, as well as Epiphone magnificence. The enigmatic harmonies and guitar work of Roger Harris provides a great counterpoint, especially in the glum duet Jimmy. Andy Back (for it is he) usually comes in during the third verse and enriches the harmonies. And in the meanwhile, the araldyte and chewing-gum Charlie the double bass provides backing with the help of Tim Watson's dancing fingers. He also sucks the gobiron from time to time, to good effect in Swansong. Anyone know why it's called Swansong? Partly because it's the dying song of the human race, but mostly in homage to the Atlantic Records Imprint label Swansong, on which Led Zeppelin latterly released their albums.

The songs range from the outstanding Look to Jesus (which Roger wrote and took the lead vocal) to the rambling apocalyptic/political Saigon. We we young and we were rather foolish, but we were intense and moderately sound.

Consider this: 'all the lies that people write - have they ever tried to fight the IRA hidden in an innocent crowd?' For starters, whoever actually thinks that the crowd at Bloody Sunday was innocent? But best of all, this line actually started out even more angrily, as 'all the lies John Lennon writes - I'd like to see that b*rst*rd fight', but luckily some of us were quick off the mark in requesting that Dick reconsider!

Everything boiled down to the Second Coming of Christ (mainly due to the influence of Larry Norman, Malcolm & Alwyn and the rest of the seventies comtemporary Christan music scene). The arrangements (for there are several) are sweet and well-worked, and the blend (which of course is entirely live due to the primitive nature of the recording equipment) is smooth and sensitive.

Sound quality is quite nasty, but the best that coud be achieved given the financial circumstances and the speed with which the album had to be completed. Massive production demands resulted in a catastrophic pressing of the record button on the master playback machine, forever erasing the first verse of the The Prisoner. Fortunately, the rest of the song, about the life of the Lord Jesus remains, complete with aggressive challenge and the references to his Second Coming, a theme with which most of the Hines numbers end.

There is great energy in Outlaw and After the Gold Rush, and classic folk sounds in 500 miles and the ancient Three Ravens (down, derry-derry-derry down, down).

What happy memories are here! The fallow doe as great with young as a certain pregnant English teacher; the debagged disciples; the concept of arrangements; and the title of the album, having little meaning. The cover sleeve (yellow paper with pics of some handsome schoolboys wandering in fake poses down Braeside Avenue in Brighton) is posted on one of Tim's pages - there are doubtless dozens of people who will be amused to see how severe the past 27 years have been to hairstyle, midriff, and taste in clothes, while expressing kindness to acne.

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Cover pix and a Mackie Hall gig retrospective: click here.