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Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso - Fiddling Meanly CD (album) cover


Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso


Eclectic Prog

3.00 | 6 ratings

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3 stars Live albums are great, aren't they! They may not be honed to technical perfection, nor as expansively realised as studio recordings, but they draw you closer to an artist through atmosphere and a sense of occasion, enhanced by artists' asides and banter, audience reactions, and any other little quirks or glitches that may have occurred to make it unique. Fiddling Meanly has it all - recorded direct to stereo DAT at the Mean Fiddler [London], it transports the listener into a small but enthusiastic audience enjoying the first, and last, night of Męstoso's 'World Tour' 2004!

What you hear is what you would have heard on the night - no overdubs and no re-recordings. Inevitably there are errors, but they are part of its charm: the guitar gets swamped during In Search Of England and generally I find the drums are fractionally too forward; there is a little ambient hum on quiet passages but nothing much to worry about; and a couple of minor missed notes are barely noticeable. The performance is spirited and authoritative with all members pulling their weight. Woolly's voice occasionally betrays his age but otherwise sounds good, and special mention must once again be made of the underrated Steve Broomhead who pulls off a couple of scintillating guitar licks.

Material is an interesting and varied choice, spanning Woolly's entire career with a few surprises. Inevitably, highlights are the 2 big-production numbers. Deceivers All, a classic from 1981, opens the show, Woolly and the band launching into a thrilling rendition with Mellotron and guitar properly to the fore. But The Poet/After The Day steals the show with a breathtaking delivery of this old favourite from the early 1970s, here presented with a belting extended bridge section replete with a brilliant solo from Broomhead. Play this loud and the central transition section cannot fail to have you thumping the table with pleasure. A veritable 'Wow!' moment.

After that it calms down a trifle, but there are a couple of little gems harking back to the dawn of Woolly's career with Barclay James Harvest. The first live recording of Poor Wages, originally a single B-side from 1969, is an excellent rocking song with some nice guitar work, while the gentler Early Morning, dedicated to late BJH drummer Mel Pritchard, closes the album on a high. Both are performed by the full band with gusto, contrasting nicely with some quieter passages with Woolly seemingly handling an acoustic guitar as often as keyboards.

Overall? Yep, definitely one to get if you are a Woolly or BJH fan

Joolz | 3/5 |


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