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


Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso


Eclectic Prog

3.30 | 18 ratings

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4 stars Way to go! This is Woolly's debut and a little cracker it is too - any fan of early BJH is going to love this. From the opening strains of catchy foot-tapper Sail Away right through to the gentle piano-with-orchestra Waveform, Woolly takes us on a typically eclectic journey encompassing spooky [Quiet Islands], romantic [A Prospect Of Whitby], raunchy [Lives On The Line], stately [Patriots], rocking [Gates Of Heaven], slow burning [American Excess] and a powerful tour-de-force [Męstoso]. All are good in their own way, but there are three obvious stand-outs.

Patriots, with its "we who stand and wait still serve" refrain and conscious nod to Elgar, paints an evocative picture reminiscent of Battle Of Britain [WW2] era British patriotism. A natural corollary to In Search Of England [from BJH XII] it varies from beautifully subtle organ and guitar touches to a rousing chorus. Probably my favourite here, American Excess ("can't buy you peace"), still 26 years later a topical subject, is a wonderful slow burner led by a gently pulsating bass, bluesy guitar and organ touches which prove that, sometimes, less can be more!

Blending orchestral arrangement and band in a mini epic, Męstoso - A Hymn In The Roof Of The World is Woolly's self declared 'magnum opus', a song written originally in the late 1960s and subsequently recorded by BJH but omitted from their album Everyone Is Everybody Else because it was felt to be 'too different'! Lyrically entering Moody Blues territory with an almost simplistic religious call to rise above false patriotism and national separation, it is an adventurous piece full of musical twists and turns from strident opening guitar passages to majestic orchestral themes.

Woolly is known as a keysman, especially Mellotron, but this is a well-rounded and balanced affair. His band are good and tight, almost recreating the 'classic' sound of early BJH with Steve Broomhead's guitar to the fore over Woolly's lush soundscapes - if you like John Lees' early guitar licks you will know what to expect. All in all a wonderful start to what should have been a long and successful career, providing a solid link to Woolly's past and re-establishing his credentials. Highly recommended.

Joolz | 4/5 |


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