1995-1998

Cliff's departure almost led up to the break-up of the band, everyone was tired physically and emotionally. In the end it was Arch who insisted to the other two that there was life in the old dog yet. Perhaps a new album would put things back onto the rails. By now Jon had left to start a university course, and the recalcitrant studio had gone into storage in one of Elaine's numerous outhouses. While Cliff had been in the band, in later years he had taken charge of the recording sessions, but over the years Colin had become more and more interested, and in the end with Cathy's help decided to take the plunge and buy an eight track portastudio.
Work began on what was to become the Wreckers album, the first three tracks were recorded as a trio and rehearsals had begun with a view to playing as a three piece. Unfortunately there were not enough arms and legs to go round, and it became apparent that a new somebody (or bodies)  would have to be found.
Arch was at the time keeping himself entertained by playing some rather irreverent covers with a bunch of friends under the somewhat doubtful title of the "Bolt-on Parsnips",
and on seeing them it was obvious to Colin & Cathy that the guitarist and singer were both very good indeed. Thus Dave Lodder and Mervyn Baggs (hereafter known as Mervyn B), entered the scene.
Work on the album proceeded quickly, and before long it was out, though only on cassette (no money of course). Then a very odd thing happened......
Word reached the band that Spirit of the Soup was available in Spain- as a record! how could this be? it had never even been properly mastered, in reality it was only a glorified demo, and an out of date one at that! All of a sudden there was interest from not one, but two independent record labels. after some negotiation The Morrigan eventually signed on to English garden records, and Wreckers was put out to a range of highly favourable reviews, and some radio coverage, including the Folk programme on radio 2. In subsequent years the entire back catalogue has also been released, (with the exception of War in Paradise). The other effect of their impending deal, was that they were at last able to get their hands on a modern digital recording system.
For a while things remained quiet on the gig front, apart from a couple notably at the Talking Heads venue in Southampton there was little going on. The new line-up had to learn a new set, mostly from scratch, and only a few  stalwarts from the old set remained. Rehearsal was problematical in a small kitchen, especially as the band was now a five piece, but patience was shown, and things gradually began to come together. Merv had the bright idea of playing a gig on a hired ferry that sailed around Poole harbour, (for once the band had a totally captive audience!) again the gods of the weather smiled and the evening was a great success. Around this time the Morrigan acquired another new member who remains with us to this day, Chas Pinder originally wanted to do lights but ended up being a combination sound engineer \ roadie / driver ( that sounds like a job description for torture) but there is no doubt that without his help, the band's live sound would be nothing like as good. In the middle of '96 there was something of a reunion, as the Morrigan and Pressgang were both on the bill at the Whitchurch folk festival, and as time progressed towards years end another booking for Glastonbury was confirmed. Things were definitely on the up. The Morrigan at this time had turned into a very different creature; obviously nobody was ever going to fill Cliff's shoes, and the theatrical element and outrageous bass playing had gone for ever, but now the flexibility of the line-up had to be seen to be believed; everybody seemed to play at least three instruments, and the standard of the vocals was a completely different ball game. Most bands would consider themselves lucky to have just one lead vocalist, and with Merv, the band now had two. If anything the band had become even tighter.
Everything now seemed to be running smoothly, The Morrigan was booked to play at the Morwenstow festival in Cornwall two days prior to their appearance at Glastonbury.  Once more arrangements were made and gear was packed. Then things began to go horribly wrong, firstly the weather was appalling (the wettest summer in living memory), the Morwenstow festival had to be moved into a large barn, and though still remarkably well attended given the state of the weather, it could not expect the kind of audiences associated with friendlier weather. Then at the end of the gig true calamity struck, Cathy who was pregnant complained of pains in her leg. Next day she was admitted into hospital with a deep vein thrombosis. Glastonbury was off. Small consolation could be taken from the fact that the Avalon stage promptly sank into the mud and they couldn't have played anyway.
Cathy was now seriously ill and so everything had to be put into suspended animation for a while. The year came to a much happier end with the birth of hers and Colin's son Ryan.
With a baby in the band (so to speak) some serious rethinking had to be done.  The spare room, once the abode of the monstrous Amek desk, now became the home of fluffier monsters, and rabbits, and teddy bears, and humpty dumptys, (why is it that whenever a baby arrives adults immediately jettison any good taste they might have possessed?) A new album was in its early stages, and now there was nowhere to record, in any event the kitchen was a hopeless place to rehearse in, Cathy's health was going to be fragile for a while, Colin hit on the idea that the Morrigan should move into the garage. (after a suitable refit).
As Cathy's health improved the band once more began to do occasional gigs, mostly local, though stalwart venues such as Southampton's Talking Heads continued to book them a couple of times a year and a good crowd always appeared. However general commitments now meant that the level of live playing could no longer be sustained.
Efforts were now directed towards the production of the new album, and in 1998 Masque was released, to considerable critical acclaim.  

CLICK HERE To continue the story