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Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso

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Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso Songs From The Black Box album cover
2.60 | 11 ratings | 4 reviews | 18% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Has To Be A Reason (4:35)
2. Down The Line (2:35)
3. All Get Burned (3:25)
4. Too Much, Too Loud, Too Late (6:10)
5. Even The Night (3:20)
6. Deceivers All (6:02)
7. The Will To Fly (4:12)
8. Sunday Bells (4:40)
9. Open (3:38)
10. Sail Away (3.20)
11. Quiet Islands (4.42)
12. A Prospect Of Whitby (3:01)
13. Lives On The Line (3:12)
14. Patriots (6:54)
15. Gates Of Heaven (14/18) (2:29)
16. American Excess (5:55)
17. Męstoso - A Hymn In The Roof Of The World (6:46)
18. Waveform (3:02)

Total Time 78:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Woolly Wolstenholme / vocals, keyboards
- Kim Turner / drums
- Steve Broomhead / guitar
- Terry Grady / bass

Releases information

CD Voiceprint VP174CD, 1994

Thanks to Joolz for the addition
and to Joolz for the last updates
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WOOLLY WOLSTENHOLME'S MAESTOSO Songs From The Black Box ratings distribution

(11 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(9%)
Good, but non-essential (55%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars After Woolly left BJH he embarked on a 'solo' career, initially releasing debut album Męstoso and embarking on a couple of tours. The follow-up to Męstoso was to be named 'Black Box' and recording sessions were undertaken by his band. Sadly, those recordings were never completed as his record company, who had failed to adequately support or promote the band, decided not to invest any further and pulled the plug. As guitarist Broomhead jumped ship at around the same time, the band was finished as a going concern and Black Box was shelved.

Some Black Box material was issued on a limited edition fan club tape, but it wasn't until 1994 that Voiceprint finally made it available on general release on Songs From The Black Box. Essentially this album is the whole of Woolly's debut album Męstoso, together with nine Black Box tracks some of which remained incomplete. While Songs From The Black Box has long been deleted, all material is now available on current albums - the original Męstoso album is still available [on Brimstone] and is about to be re-issued by Eclectic with bonus tracks, while the Black Box material is now contained on Black Box Revisited, also with bonus tracks.

Full reviews of this material can be found under those other albums. In summary these songs represent Woolly's vision of how he would wish his career to develop, using his former band as a stepping off point. There is clear reference to the trademark BJH sound, an eclectic mixture of melodic 'symphonic' structures and simpler soft-rock songs with strong guitar based themes not unlike the approach of John Lees. Some tracks could be considered essential, Patriots and Deceivers All in particular are BJH-style classics, but the whole album is a joy.

NB - the material here is worth 4 stars, but as the album is no longer available, I am rating it as 2 stars simply to reflect that, while fans/collectors might wish to spend a lot of cash obtaining it, others can readily obtain the material on Męstoso and Black Box Revisited.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Half of this album should have been the second official studio release from Woolly's band, "Maestoso" (all the details are available in the good review from Joolz). BJH's pleasant sound was noticeable on several tracks of this "debut" album.

On this "lost" album (until these tracks were finally released, a long time after their conception) the mood is more popish for some of the tracks (as if Woolly wanted to mime BJH). Some nice melodies of course like "All Get Burned"; but I would have expect a more adventourous music. Wasn't he the one who held the progressive side of BJH togehter ?

We are far from this with "Too Much, Too Loud, Too Late". Smooth AOR, a bit spacy at the end. A pleasant but average song.

From their debut album (which is fully represented) "A Prospect Of Whitby", "Patriots", "American Excess" and "Maestoso, A Hymn In The Roof Of The World" were the best songs (you can read the full review for this album in the according entry). These were really excellent.

From the new ones available, one of my preferred song and the most BJH like is "Deceivers All". Beautiful melody and fine guitar solo. This is a brilliant flash back on the best BJH's work. So emotional, so pleasant so...good. A Genesis finale is a definite plus.

I also like very much "The Will to Fly". Same tranquil melody, so typical of this good band of the seventies. Oooops, sorry I'm describing Barclay here. But it is so similar. I guess that we could have gotten some more good albums from this band would Woolly have remained with them. Anyway, with "Maestoso" he prolonged, at times, the experience. "Sunday Bells" reminds me BJH 's early days, when they were playing with an orchestra. Fine vocals from the guy and nice orchestration in the final section. Nice as well. The closing song ..."Open" is somewhat too melowish to my ears but the nice melody is a good "au revoir".

Several new songs are of the caliber of "Maestoso" 's debut. But all the new tracks will be featured on a next compilation called "Black Box Recovered". They will be combined with some demo / live version of Woolly's debut album. It sounds a bit complicated, but so it is. It is a difficult excercise to rate this album on such an unprecise rating system. Five out of ten would be accurate. For Woolly's achievement I will upgrade it to three stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Well this is what I would call "Old Man Prog Rock". I know this sounds like a provocation, but it really isn“t. I just file it under that catagory. Some "Old Man Prog Rock" bands are really good. Bands like Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd for instance. Really good "Old Man Prog Rock. But there are also the other bands or persons who haven“t stood the test of time very well. I think Woolly is one of them.

I respect his past works with BJH and wouldn“t talk badly about that, but this is just too lame and cheesy at times. Very few times am I reminded that this is actually prog rock. This is way too soft for me. More pop than rock. I can“t seem to remember one song after this is finished and I“m almost asleep. This is always a bad sign.

Woolly plays symphonic pop that is just a little too nice and polished. There“s a bit neo prog style here too. Maybe the neo prog fans will like this ? There is no need to tell you that the musicians are excellent throughout the album though. All competent gentlemen.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Betjeman meets Quasimodo

After recording his first solo album "Męstoso" in 1980, Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme quickly returned to the studio to record a follow up album. Many of the tracks were seen through to an almost complete state, but the album with the working title "Black box" was not released at the time.

"Songs from the black box" is a compilation of the material recorded for "Black box" along with all the tracks from "Męstoso". I shall focus here on the "Black box" material, which makes up about half the album, as "Męstoso" is listed and reviewed separately on this site.

We open with "Has to be a reason" (but see the "Black box recovered" album for a much better sequencing which puts "Deceivers all" up front), an up-tempo song with an elaborate arrangement. Woolly is in fine vocal form, his singing being sympathetically multi-tracked. The song is reminiscent of BJH songs such as "Crazy city", with some excellent guitar by Steve Broomhead.

Thereafter, the album consists of a good mix of lighter, sometimes almost pop material, and powerful, symphonic bursts. The first six tracks are described by Woolly as being "almost finished". The aforementioned "Deceivers all" is undoubtedly the highlight of the set. The song was clearly written with a view to it being included on a BJH album, and the arrangement here makes no effort to disguise that intention.

The remaining three tracks are effectively advanced demos by Woolly. "The will to fly" is an anti-blood sports ballad which once again would have fitted in well on a BJH album had it been seen through to completion by the band. Even as it is here, the song is an evocative piece, brimming with emotion. "The Sunday bells" is a soft acoustic number describing Wolstenholme's native area. The track concludes with one of Woolly's great symphonic escapes which he himself describes as " Betjeman meets Quasimodo"!

The closing "Open" features Procol Harum like organ backing a melodic "Homburg" like song. It is far from original, but a fine song anyway. Thereafter, we are into the "Męstoso" album.

For an album which was never quite finished, the music here is of a uniformly high quality in terms of writing, performance and arrangement. The results are at least on a par with, and arguably superior to, anything which has been released in the BJH name since Woolly left that band.

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