THE GARDENING CLUB – THE RIDDLE – INDEPENDENT
One of the highlight reissues for me last year was ‘The Gardening Club’ by Martin Springett. It had been released in 1983, but last year was picked up and reissued by Gonzo Media, and I was fortunate enough to get a copy. I reviewed it at the beginning of 2018 and really thought that would be the end of it, as I knew that Martin had become a well-known and sought-after artist. What I didn’t realize was that in the intervening years he had kept recording and writing songs, and he read my review on one site and tracked me down through another and got in touch. The result is I am now listening to the new album, which is now by a band named after the original release. Martin Springett still provides all vocals plus acoustic guitar, and he is joined by Sean Drabbit, Wayne Kozak, James MacPherson and Norm MacPherson.
As one would expect, the CD itself is visually very appealing with wonderful artwork throughout the booklet, tray card and even the CD itself. It fits perfectly with the music as well, which still has strong elements of ‘Breathless’ era Camel and Anthony Phillips (as did the earlier release), but here there are also strong elements of Roy Harper (particularly), Rog Patterson and the Strawbs. Nothing is rushed, and there is no feeling of constraint as the guys go where the music takes them, which is sometimes acoustic and sometimes electric, sometimes pastoral and at others more electric or driving. The result is yet another album that is full of melody and stylings that is more progressive in attitude than it is in sound. Although the version I have has been self-released, I am convinced that this will soon be picked up by a label which can provide the support it needs, as this needs to be heard by those who enjoy good music. There is a naivety within it that hearkens back to the Seventies, a fretless bass that provides warmth with the dexterity, acoustic stringed instruments that all strive to be heard while over the top are Harper-esque vocals that are so perfectly in keeping with it all. These are songs, real songs, not extended workouts and the album is a total delight throughout. The Gardening Club is already recording new songs for their next release, yet this has only just come out. Martin is certainly making up for lost time.
by Kev Rowland