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Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso

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Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso One Drop In A Dry World album cover
3.22 | 17 ratings | 7 reviews | 18% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The bells, The Bells! (1:38)
2. Blood And Bones (5:17)
3. A Waiting Game (4:00)
4. It's You (Sixties Mix) (3:26)
5. Souk (5:11)
6. One Drop In A Dry World (7:10)
7. ANSS (4:35)
8. The End Of The Road (2:57)
9. Explorers (4:04)
10. 2 a.m. (5:03)
11. The Starving People Of The World All Thank You For Your Time (3:23)
12. Carpet (5:35)

Total Time 51:23

Line-up / Musicians

- Woolly Wolstenholme / voice, Mellotron, acoustic and electric 12-string guitars, keyboards, percussion, toy bugle
- Craig Fletcher / voice, 4-string/5-string/fretless bass, double bubble, percussion, corkscrew
- Kevin Whitehead / drums, percussion, Dark Lord of the Rumcha Box
- Steve Broomhead / voice, electric and acoustic guitars, Japan banjo, didgeridoo, balalaika, musical saw

Releases information

CD Eclectic ECLCD 1008, 2004

Thanks to Joolz for the addition
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WOOLLY WOLSTENHOLME'S MAESTOSO One Drop In A Dry World ratings distribution

(17 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (47%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
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
4 stars After a few years away from the music bizz, Woolly's interest was jump started by involvement with John Lees' version of BJH in the late 1990s yet he was left stranded when Lees pulled the plug on a follow-up album to Nexus. Woolly took the remainder of the Nexus band [Fletcher and Whitehead] while re-convening with Steve Broomhead, his old Męstoso guitarist from the early 1980s, to record One Drop In A Dry World, his first new studio album for 23 years.

The result, compared to debut album Męstoso, is more of the same yet different! Songs retain undeniable character traits familiar from Woolly's earlier work yet arrangements are looser, more open and a little more relaxed, less consciously recreating the old BJH sound, even in places reminding me of singer-songwriters like Sean Colvin with acoustic guitars to the fore backed by a gently rocking rhythm section. A Waiting Game is an example, a lilting song about rampant consumerism highjacking Christmas, which follows a multi-tracked guitar solo with a mellow oboe passage, the whole effect painting an evocative picture of mince pies by a fireside on a cold winter night.

But, fear not, for the mighty Mellotron makes its presence felt too on songs like the three-part progressive blockbuster Blood And Bones ["without a soul we're nothing more than ...."] sandwiching an ethereal requiem between big dramatic themes and powerful guitar phrases. Described by Woolly as a "miserable hymn for insomniacs", 2 A.M. uses 12 string guitar and lovely fretless bass to create a sombre mood demonstrating the darker side of some of Woolly's lyrics which commonly relate to everyday concerns. Indeed, many lyrics on this album are doom-laden and angsty, as if Woolly was angrily exorcising a few unwelcome ghosts.

Special mention must be made of Souk, perhaps the album's stand-out track, depicting life in and around an Arabian bazaar, but hinting that things are very different when the sun has set and the tourists have gone. Built around a glorious riff from Broomhead and some excellent chord progressions, it evokes the sights, sounds and smells [huh?] of northern Africa through clever arrangement and orchestration, almost Page-Plant [Unledded] in flavour.

All in all, a welcome and triumphant return from the cold with enough Prog twists to satisfy.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars An incredible amount of time (twenty-four years !) between the first and the second album release of "Maestoso" (if you exclude the "Black Boxes" compilation work). Our dear friend Woolly called it quit after the failure of his album debut to chart and only got back on business with his old chap John Lees at the end of the nineties for the BJH come back album "Nexus" (1999).

At times, the sound is harder than what could be expected ("Blood & Bones"), while "A Waiting Game" is an accoustic and quiet little tune and "It's You" is a pop-rock and childish one. Not too good IMO. None of these songs are bad, but neither one of them can be consider as special. "Souk" with its Oriental flavour (sounds all too logical) brings some variety to this album. Nice melody for this more rock oriented song. Pleasant.

Woolly will also propose some true BJH songs like "One Drop...".Very melodic, a bit mellow. It's the longest song of the album and it will allow some time for a good guitar solo before returning to the nice & melodic section. Some sort of "Rā" atmosphere to close this very good song (he did almost the same with "Patriots" on his "debut" album). The highlight.

"ANSS" provokes some opposite feelings : nice pop-rock song mixed with some weird reggae-ish beat. While the pop sounds are quite alright, I really hate the mix. The one really has nothing to do with the other. This song could have been a very good one but it is ruined by these short and completely useless instants and even if "Explorer" features a nice melody, it is too mellow, poppish and naive.

Another good song of this album is "2 A.M." Nice keyboards during the whole song, quite atmospheric a track, I should say. This is another highlight of this album. But let's face the truth, this is not great music. Just pleasant symphonic prog. I have a lot of difficulties to enter into the ultra repetitive "The Starving People Of The World...". Extremely long title. I would have expected a kind of protest song, but we'll only get the title repeated again and again, till the end of this short track.

The closing number is another very good song. Maybe my fave of the whole. Fully symphonic, crescendo (like "Afterglow"), passionate, beautiful intro. Rocking beat during the finale which really rocks. "Carpet" is a very pleasant way to close this album.

This album is more personal than the first one. The BJH relation is not so obvious. This album holds very little highlights. It's a nice collection of good songs for fans only I guess. Since I am one of these I will rate this album with hree stars (but this is on the higher end, really).

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars Woolly Wolstenholme's mellotron, bombastic songwriting and arranging, and brooding vocals all elevated all BJH albums in which he took part, and the drop off in their quality after 1979's XII was not simpy due to a change of decade. His loss was a major blow to any of the band's pretentions at seriousness, and it was shocking that he only released one album after the breakup before disappearing for a quarter century.

"One drop in a Dry World" has echoes of the old BJH, but yet somehow so much is missing. The sharp melodic touch for one thing. The harmonies for another. John Lees' subtle guitar work. I just don't know. Even some of the best material is not particularly redolent of BJH, such as the powerful "Souk" and "End of the Road". But "A Waiting Game" is a pretty Christmassy type song and "It's You" really does take you back to those early singles on the Harvest label. It's the attempt to re-capture the old epic mood that seems so half-hearted, and fails badly, in the title track and the boring "Blood and Bones", both of which seem to be intended as centerpieces of the album. Even in Woolly's most grandiose pieces like "Moonwater" and "Ra", he never sounded trite like this. Just throwing a mellotron at something like "It's 2 AM" is not sufficient to bolster the mediocre material. "The Starving People..." is actually a novel approach but, like many novelties, only good for one or two listens.

As it turns out, "One Drop" is little more than that. I have heard good things about his other material, but will tread cautiously going forward.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars So many setting suns

Barclay James Harvest's Woolly Wolstenholme rejoined the circus which is the music industry after a lengthy sabbatical following a chance meeting with John Lees in 2003. Thus he set about recording his first new solo material for over 20 years. As usual, he uses the band name Maestoso for the project. Only long term associate guitarist Steve Broomhead remains from the 1980's line up, his song writing contribution being limited to one co-credit. The album was recorded over a 13 day period in November 2003, and finalised for release in January 2004.

A brief symphonic introduction featuring Woolly's trusty mellotron leads to the three part "Blood and bones". This powerful trilogy is a little harder than we are used to from Wolstenholme, but the lush mellotron reminds us of the days when the instrument was a feature of the BJH sound. The "Requiem" section features some exquisite violin prior to a return of the main theme.

"A waiting game" bemoans the commercialism of Christmas, the sound being light and acoustic. The inclusion of an oboe solo playing "The first noel" is corny but effective. The song reminds me a little of BJH's "The iron maiden"?. Or is it "Galadriel"? "It's U" is a throwback to the 1960's, including the primitive use of stereo which was a feature of recordings at that time.

"Souk" is the only track not written by Woolstenholme alone, the song beginning life as an instrumental by Steve Broomhead. Lyrics were subsequently added, reflecting the North African flavour of the music and giving the song a sort of "Kashmir" feel. The title track seems to be a song about a hangover, while "ANSS" (A nothing summer song) is a lightweight song about holiday hooligans.

"The end of the road" and "Explorers" are pleasantly melodic without ever really lighting a fire. "2A.M." reflects the misery of insomnia, perhaps being written by Woolly from personal experience. There is a menacing aspect to the song which makes it rather different to the norm for Woolly; the mellotron is used to enhance the dramatic effect.

The lyrics of "The starving people of the world all thank you for your time", are the same as the title, the song being a sort of cross between "Give peace a chance" and "I've seen all good people". The closing "Carpet" describes the "Magic carpet ride" presumably of Woolly's time in BJH. The brief lyrics are directed at an unnamed former colleague (Les Holroyd perhaps). Lines such as "Was it the money, was it fame that made you play a different game?" indicate that even Woolly, who appeared to be on the periphery of the bad blood, also holds a level of frustration and resentment. The final "setting sun" lyric may refer to Holroyd's song "It's my life" which opens his first album as BJH Featuring Les Holroyd which includes the line "Time moves on like a setting sun" *. The song is used musically to form a grand ("Four gong") conclusion to the album.

In all, a decent comeback album from Woolly. While never really matching the lofty heights of his work with BJH, or indeed his first solo album, there is enough good material here to prove that there is plenty of life in the old dog yet!

* Coincidentally, Woolly himself uses a "Setting sun" lyric on his song "Harbour" which appeared on BJH's XII album. Holyoyd also used the reference on "The Song (They Love To Sing)" on "Eyes of the universe". Furthermore, the sleeve of the "Gone to earth" album has a picture of, yes, a setting sun.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Officially Woolly Wolstenholme would return to discography in the second half of the 90's, when he teamed up with John Lees for the album ''Nexus'' credited to Barclay James Harvest Through the Eyes of John Lees.Wolstenholme would begun working on new material and members of this project participated in the upcoming Maestoso album: Craig Fletcher on bass, percussion and vocals and Kevin Whitehead on bass along with old bandmate Steve Broomhead on electric and acoustic guitars.Wolstenholme of course played all keyboards, sung and handled some guitars on the album ''One drop in a dry world'', which was released in 2004 on Eclectic Discs.

The old stylings of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST along with elements of cinematic/orchestral music and Singer/Songwriting stylings are all displayed in this new work by Maestoso, finding Wolstenholme in a good form.While keeping some of the vintage flame of his past years, the material sounds very fresh, melodic and even contains up-to-date hints of British Pop Rock in a few straightforward tracks with nice vocal work and memorable choruses.Other cuts have a nice symphonic feeling, heavily relying on Wolstenholme's atmospheric keyboards and the mightly Mellotron, sounding like tiny suites linked to Classical and Film-Score Music.And at the end there are also these retro-sounding, longer cuts featuring the seminal Symphonic/Art Rock sound of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, some great Mellotron intros and interludes, shifting guitar tempos and clean singing lines, completing a set of sweet arrangements.You can't call this album overly very progressive, because complex themes are rather absent, the compositions are mostly based on alternating Mellotron and organ parts, vocal deliveries and melodic guitar tunes, but the atmosphere has much to do with the movement, twisting between melodramatic passages, ethereal soundscapes and romantic tunes.''Blood and bones'' is the best cut in here, heavy on Mellotron with dramatic singing parts and constant use of electroacoustic backgrounds.

You know what to expect from a Woolly Wolstenholme/Maestoso album: Strong songwriting, grandiose keyboard work, attractive moods, well-crafted ballads and symphonic overtones.If you are deep into these, ''One drop in a dry world'' is a must-have.Recommended.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Maestoso is the band fronted by ex-Barclay James Harvest keyboards player Woolly Wolstenholme. 2004's "One Drop in a Dry World" was the first music from Woolly to be released for over 20 years, following his long sabbatical from the music business. lyrical mood belied its title. "One Drop" ... (read more)

Report this review (#95498) | Posted by alextorres | Monday, October 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In 2004 there were not many albums I really came to rave about, "Marbles" from Marillion seemed to hold the No. 1 - Spot in my List, but then came Woolly... Everything I had hoped for after he had left BJH in 1979 and... MORE, "one drop in a dry world" offered a wide stylistic range and many ... (read more)

Report this review (#94636) | Posted by rupert | Sunday, October 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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