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Strawbs - From The Witchwood CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.02 | 224 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The more pastoral view of things

When most people think Prog Folk they likely either think of Jethro Tull, or this band. Strawbs where the more chilled out side of the prog folk subgenre, their calm and pleasant arrangements are a little bit hard to nab off of the first listen, but this is also the kind of music that unexpectedly makes its way under your skin when you're least expecting it. The songs on the album are likely best described as ''delicate'' for the most part, with most of the tunes being a soft blend of organ, guitar and a mellow-voice these aren't exactly the kind of songs to rock out and raise the horns to, but rather sit back and enjoy some very pleasant music. A Glimpse Of Heaven is indeed what you get with this album if you're looking for something in a more tranquil vein.

There's no particular standout song on this album since there's no giant epic to overpower the rest. None of the songs on the album reach even 5-minutes, and while this may evoke a certain amount of skepticism in some proggers their worries will quickly drift away after they see what there is to like on the album. What makes each of the short tunes great is a wonderful sense of pastoral melody that can catch the ear of any listener. One great example of this is the great riff from the wonderful title track, Witchwood which dominates the song. Other songs on the album are more inclined to the vocal side of things, especially nearing the end as on In Amongst The Roses and I'll Carry On Beside You, each of which feature some great vocal performances and really let the album end with a bang.

Of course one member of the band that has to get due credit here is Rick Wakeman. Yes, the very same who would soon join the band Yes. This would be Wakeman's second effort with the band, and he really gets some places to shine here. Case in point is the excellent number, The Hangman and The Papist, in which Wakeman unleashes all of his keyboard playing fury into the organ at the beginning of the track making for a blindingly virtuosoistic intro to the normally chilled album. While the song soon slows to a more Strawbs-like pace it's easy to see where Yes would want to take their 'new' keyboardist from. Other than the intro this is also an amazing tune on its own. Cousins and Co. manage to tell a haunting story about a reluctant hangman who winds up having to hang his own brother as he finds out moments before the execution. With delivery that will leave a chill in your spine and a final lyrical line that will leave your stomach in knots, if there was a stantout song on the album - it would be this one.

Other songs on the album don't play as filler, they work as excellent tunes all their own. Thirty Days is another song with heavy lyrical content and others such as Sheep are surprisingly aggressive with their build in the short period of time that they have to evolve. The remastered version of the album also features the tune, Keep The Devil Outside which fits in very well with the album since it started off as a b-side taken from the disc and adds three-minutes and four seconds of more great music onto the end of the album.

For those who are looking for a folk-oriented album with a heavy use of organ and some more pastoral feelings then look no further than this album. Those who want to headbang should steer clear of this effort, but for those who enjoy this kind of music a definite 4 stars must be awarded here. Great in every sense of the word. Highly recommended to Strawbs fans, Prog-Folk fans and Wakeman fans alike.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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