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Fresh Maggots - Fresh Maggots CD (album) cover

FRESH MAGGOTS

Fresh Maggots

 

Prog Folk

3.76 | 23 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars The dawn of the 1970s was rife with music like this - acoustically dominated folk with string and acidic accents, and idealistic lyrics with occasional protestations. Artists like FOREST, COMUS, JAN DUKES DE GREY, SPIROGYRA, and DONOVAN passed through before or during this duo's brief brush with fame. Others like STRAWBS and NICK DRAKE had merged folk rock with strings quite deftly. Yet somehow FRESH MAGGOTS produced a single album that was distinct enough to warrant your consideration even in this overcrowded field. Their brilliant harmonies, lush strumming style, instinct around economical arrangements, and sheer youthful enthusiasm more than compensate for any shortcomings, which in any case they make no effort to hide, only accenting their off the charts likability. That they were only 19 at the time of recording is hard to fathom yet paradoxically might explain all.

With a near total reliance on acoustic guitar and a few other instruments, Burgoyne and Dolphin managed to both arrange and sequence tracks such that they appear much more musically diverse than they actually are. We start with the immediately electrified social commentary of "Dole Song", enhanced by tin whistle and fortified by several appealing changes of pace, allowing the song to flit from acid folk/hard rock to singalong to trad ditty while only raising eyebrows in a positive fashion. "Rosemary Hill" is considered by many to be the only potential classic on the disk, but such talk misses the point of the exercise. It's a lovely reflective ballad devoid of amplification which adopts a few string accents as it progresses, but, like everything else here, is fortified by the company it keeps. "Everyone's Gone to War", "Balloon Song", and "Frustration" are the other "rockers", interspersed through the rest of the album. "Balloon Song" is much lighter in content than the others, like a cross between FOREST and FUSCHIA, but with more panache. Among the other ballads, "And When She Laughs" is pure bliss, while "Spring" is like an unplugged take on the more electrified numbers, swapping lead guitar for adept acoustic picking.

The bonus cuts consist of the A and B sides of a single that flopped just like the album. "Car Song" is a ringer for DONOVAN circa 1967, while "What Would you do" has a light mid period BEATLES feel. Both are welcome here for completeness but don't really make or break the CD release.

I hold out hope that, like FUCHSIA, FRESH MAGGOTS might find a way to reward their fans and collectors after an interminable absence. By my reckoning they would only be a spry 65 at this point, so why not have a go? In the meantime, this re-release is worth much more than a fly over if you are a prog folk fan, and why else would you have read this far?

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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