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Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso - Mæstoso CD (album) cover

MÆSTOSO

Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso

 

Eclectic Prog

3.29 | 17 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "I'm not saying I was always right, but I had to sail away"

Disillusioned with the direction they seemed set on, Wooly Wolstenholme left Barclay James Harvest in 1979 to follow a solo career. It is fair to say this was not a successful move, with "Mæstoso" remaining for many years the sole fruits of his labour available commercially.

While he was a member of the band, Wooly usually wrote and sang on one track per album. Those familiar with those songs should now however expect to hear an album full of similar pieces here. There is certainly "Patriots" (described by Wooly as "quasi- Elgarian") which has the same stately, majestic atmosphere of "In search of England", but the majority of the tracks are upbeat. Indeed it is ironic that, given his reasons for leaving, he should create overtly commercial material such as the catchy "Gates of heaven" and the AOR "Sail away" (lyrically Wooly's "Solisbury hill").

Many of the tracks were either rejected by BJH, or intended by Wooly for potential inclusion on their next album. "American Excess" for example was deemed "too pretentious" by the band. The song is certainly emotive, with a doomy melody, but it stands as a competent and memorable song. The title track was also rejected by the band some years previously, but it is difficult to see why other than perhaps because of it's similarity to songs such as "Beyond the grave".

The album certainly oozes quality, with Steve Broomhead's guitar work providing the perfect counterpoint to Wooly's mellotron and Hammond organ. Wooly's voice is not particularly strong though. When it featured on one or two tracks per album, it came across well. It does not however have the strength to sustain an entire album. That is not to question his signing ability, but the vocals lack sufficient colour for an entire album. To some extent, this aspect is compensated for by the symphonic production which graces this collection, the conclusion to the title track for example being positively regal.

The CD version has two bonus live tracks, sourced from a bootleg of the band performing in Vienna (supporting Saga). By this time, they had taken the name Mæstoso, this album being nominally a solo album.

In all, an album which will please those who enjoy the music of Barclay James Harvest. While it will never win any album of the year awards, "Mæstoso" deserved far more success than it actually attained.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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