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


Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso


Eclectic Prog

3.30 | 18 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Andrea Cortese
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Męstoso was a long coveted project for Woolly Wolstenholme. His role into BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST was becoming, little by little, too much limited for him to express all his potential. Just think that the title track was originally conceived for the Everyone is Everybody Else album (1974) but it was unfortunately rejected by the other members, by the label owners and productors for its weird structure which went too much far from the band's new refreshed sound. It was rather the most inspired and symphonic prog piece of art ever written by him along with the personal favourite of mine Moonwater. Really intriguing and bombastic.

I think it was a hard blow for Woolly. The damage was done, though, and it wasn't enough what he would have recorded next. Just think to the surreal prog highlight Beyond the Grave (from Time Honoured Ghosts album). The main problem was that the band was going towards more soft prog - AOR territories and, honestly, their musical ideas didn't fit with his musical ambitions. Didn't fit at all.

Paradoxally he left the band in 1979 just when BJH started to benefit of wider commercial success in Germany and in the continental europe. With a newly formed band composed by Steve Broomhead (mandolin and guitars) and Kim Turner (drums, mellotron and percussions) he finally released his ambitious project of an entire solo work. The album is simply superb if you're a fan of the typical and most classic BJH's repertoire. Now it's all more serious, more pompous and free. Atmospheric keyboards, mellotron, organ and moog (from soft and light to dark and pompous) are the miliar stone upon which the whole opus is based on. Guitars, mandolin and drums are all excellently performed. The sound is very near to the typical BJH's music of the Polydor period and the whole thing is the most satisfying record ever released by any BJH member. Way over the top of what the other ex-colleagues were recording at that period (Eyes of the Universe and in 1981 Turn of the Tide). A classic then.

From the more pop-ish tunes Lives on the Line and Gates of Eden (14/18) to the more sophisticate Quiet Islands and Prospect of Whitbi and even to the more adventurous Patriots (a Wolstenholme classic, a must have if you like Sea of Tranquility and In Search of England) and Męstoso itself (A Hymn in the Roof of the World) you will be lead into ethereal and exciting horizons with many sparkling interludes and plentiful orchestral-like arrengements. American Excess is another strong highlight of the album, a more introvert and agry song about the bitter disillusion about the music industry. Slow rythm and very good electric guitar phrasing. Almost perfect. The closer Waveform is a typical closing number with mellow and sad vocals, classic piano and string bass. Very nice too.

The recent remastered edition features the addition of two excellent bonus tracks: the live versions of Even the Night and Has to be a Reason from the next studio album Songs from the Black Box (now also remastered as Black Box Recovered). The latter is particularly good and in my personal opinion better than the studio one. Great performance that night in Vienna! Wish I was there at the time!

A classic and essential record.


Andrea Cortese | 4/5 |


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