The Magpie Salute

High Water I

(Provogue/Mascot Label Group)



In conversation, Rich Robinson is a thoughtful, considered and focussed character. If he decides to make a project work out, it probably will. Not because he strikes one as egocentric, rather he seems to believe in the potency of an aggregation that is well-chosen to create and excite. Having seen The Magpie Salute in stage action, I do not hesitate to put them up there with Live Dead or Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown. Their individual and collective vocal prowess astounds, their instrumental skills evoke vintage Moby Grape as the guitars weave and sing. This second album and for a new label is welcome.

Starting cut Mary The Gypsy has the pounding drums, chugging guitars, steady bass and frantic vocals that let you know the crew are in town. It’s a killer rock tune with a hypnotic progression that would appeal to anyone digging early Grateful Dead, The Groundhogs or Thin Lizzy. For sheer insistence, hard to beat as an opener.

High Water is by contrast a tumble of acoustic guitars and a mystic CSN-vibed vocal. A strange background of snakecharmer sounds give a psych sub-plot. As the sound patters along, soft keyboard touches and guitar slivers hop in and out of the mix. It all sounds fired up but organic. These guys understand the beauty of electricity and the wobbly guitar motifs towards the end of the number hint at power still held back. I am loving this. Onwards to Send Me An Omen has a surging tempo and urgent soulful singing – John Hogg, maybe. The bv’s are rich and airy, set against the tough chording. You have to be pretty good to sound this tight-but-loose and this group seem to be the best at it since…er, The Faces. Robinson and longtime pal Marc Ford are of course ace players but the electric piano vamping make this one special.

For The Wind has bassist Sven Pipien waiting his moment after a delicate acoustic intro..throughout the record he plays to the strength of each composition. A solid sway starts after a minute, creating an irresistible appeal. If Buffalo Springfield had continued, maybe just maybe they would have sounded like this?

Next up we have Sister Moon and its stealthy dark beat with tender singing over it. Could be a string bass. The melody here rivals vintage Cat Stevens but with a softer vocal. A neat inclusion and the reverbed pedal steel sounds just right. Somehow evokes the band America…

Color Blind starts campfire with fluid bass and UniVibed guitar, all kept gentle and flowing. Sounds like a performance favourite already! Take It All has a Southern swagger worthy of Little Feat, rattling piano and all. One of the strongest items in this set. Then a folky Walk On Water rides in on staccato chording and cute harmonies over edgy slide guitar, another strong song. I was wondering whether Hand In Hand might turn out to be the Bob Mosley song, but it’s not. Rather a jaunty country thang with tambourine and an Arlo Guthrie tinge.

You Found Me is a country waltz of sorts that certainly brings Rod Stewart to mind. Nicely handled, indeed. Then Can You See jumps into your ears, the group building the tune into an Exile On Main Street style addictive effort, vocal pacing to suit.

Closing proceedings we have Open Up, a real blues outing albeit with breathy singing and an ominous timbre with the players keeping it all steady as that glorious vocal blend seeps in and casts in spell…

Awesome jamming power meets memorable material…a contender for Album Of The Year, I venture.

Pete Sargeant


(Thanks to the Mascot Team)

The Magpie Salute's new album 'High Water I' is out now on Provogue/Mascot Label Group.

You can listen to 'Sister Moon' in this article.

For more information visit the band's official website here: