Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Strawbs - From The Witchwood CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.02 | 224 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
3 stars From The Witchwood is an album from the second year of many proggers' favourite decade, the 1970s. And since it's such an early effort, I perhaps shouldn't be as surprised to find such strong 60s influences in it. But I am.

Many of the songs here could just as well have seen the light of day as part of a mid-sixties Beatles album. If you've heard one of those, a blend of light-weight psych rock, pop and folk shouldn't be entirely unfamiliar, all with the elusive British overtones I often seem encounter, but seldom manage to describe in words. Throw in some really notable - but not overwhelming - use of sitar and Shepherd's Song with its familiar White Rabbit-esque groove and you should get the general feel of what I'm talking about:

Kinda trippy at times, but never beyond the borders of the 'accessible' stuff from that period of time.

Folk has always been a dominant part of Strawbs' sound (no kidding!) and many tracks are just that. Nice folky tunes, always a pleasant listen, but unfortunately rarely interesting or striking for me when used as extensively as here. Acoustic galore, be it with guitar or any other stringed instrument, together with a bunch of other traditional sounds still manage to keep me concentrated for more time than I'd first expected. Images of misty moors, small rural villages and gloomy dark forests of those British Isles more or less constantly fly through my head for the thirty-six minutes the album runs. While the general rule is that mellowness prevails, there are also a couple of harder, faster parts, often with a symphonic edge that gradually will take up more and more place in Strawb's music. Sheep is an excellent example of this, where the hard-edged riff and Wakeman's organ (yes, THE Wakeman) form a structure that only can be described as symphonic, even though it is that in an earthier, more proto-prog kind of way. For those of you that might consider this a great way to pick up a forgotten Wakeman masterpiece, don't bother. The virtuoso keyboardist finds himself in more of a background role here, but he still manages to shine through on most notably Sheep, A Glimpse Of Heaven and my favourite song on the album, The Hangman And The Papist (the final vocal lines have yet to fail in sending waves of chills down my spine).

No, now when I really think about it, he adds another dimension to the album as a whole, won't take that from him. Not just in the flashy way we're used to.

Dave Cousins was an acquired taste for me, because while being a very emotional singer, he's got a very distinct voice, reaching a slightly nasal, almost bleating tone when aiming for more powerful territory. But once you've gotten used to it, it quickly turns into more of a trademark instead of a drawback. What is for sure is that when sticking to smoother parts, he sings nothing short of beautiful. He doesn't sing all by himself though, sharing the vocal duties with the other members of the band. Not including Wakeman, though...

A pleasant surprise from this prog-folk band, and some fresh air for me, who have only really listened to Tull from this genre before. And the best part of it is that later albums will be even better!

3 stars.


LinusW | 3/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this STRAWBS review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives