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Prog Folk • United Kingdom

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Forest biography
FOREST were a late 60's minstrel/medieval type of folk-prog trio in the style of The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, FAIRPORT CONVENTION and DR. STRANGELY STRANGE. They released a couple of albums with dark but subtle acid lyrics, incorporating pipes, harmonium, harpsichord, mandolin, 12-string guitar and percussion to their sound. Their music doesn't have the electricity normally associated with rock, yet it can't be described as straight folk either, the lyrics being rather strange and the band's approach being far too eclectic - thus their inclusion here.

Their eponymous album (1969) is practically a clone of The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND whereas "Full Circle" (1970) shows more original songwriting and more diverse arrangements, with themes still dealing with nature, mystery and darkness. Both albums are altogether esoteric, pastoral, serious and communal as befit the times.

Not essential but if you like the spirit of COMUS, GRYPHON or MELLOW CANDLE, you may want to check them out, for a bit of hippie nostalgia.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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FOREST discography

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FOREST top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.04 | 28 ratings
3.35 | 33 ratings
Full Circle

FOREST Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

FOREST Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

FOREST Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.08 | 7 ratings
Forest/Full Circle

FOREST Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

FOREST Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Full Circle by FOREST album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.35 | 33 ratings

Full Circle
Forest Prog Folk

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars "The full circle" is the second and last album by the British group Forest and it was released in 1970, one year after their debut. Like the first Forest even this has a colourful, artistic cover which craves its respect. As earlier the group made up by Derek Allenby, Hadrian Welham and Martin Welham. They all play very many instruments and does it rather professional. One dimension of Forest is though amateurish, but I think that is Forest's charm. Without that inch hippie happiness, it wouldn't have been so much left to praise.

In matter of goodness, Forest's both records are similar, according to me of course. Also here can we flow into a historic Brittish thinking but in flower power clothes. It's a lot of instruments and the songs have really their own touch. Well, it's an exaggeration to call them a rock band but they have qualitites as well. The record is rather even. The best tracks are the shortest and the longest. "Famine song"(the only pure traditional) is best. Here proves the group the can sing in beautiful harmonies and I got a feeling of Steeleye Span(one of my favourite bands over all). "Autumn childhood" is also very good. Here's som harmonies as well and there's a lot of emotion and some sophistication. "Bluebell" is also very nice.

Three songs would I consider to be quite bad: "Hawk the hawker", Much ado about nothing" and especially "Gypsy girl and rambleway". The other songs are nice but nothing more. My problem with Forest is the vocals which I don't find so good. They're shrill in my ears and that's not very nice.

This is a record that will be forgotten(if it hasn't happened yet). In my opinion nothing could help this record to be more than just quite nice. I haven't seen the inner sleve(if there is one) and perhaps it's a rare and expensive album. But the music is forgettable and stuck in another time and perhaps another world. Three stars!

 Forest by FOREST album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.04 | 28 ratings

Forest Prog Folk

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars I am grabbing this very early prog folk record - the British group Forest's first from 1969; this is a record which from first moment to last is a "hippie" record and psychedelic folk would describe it best. Forest feautures Derek Allenby (mandolin, pipes, harmonica, harmonium, percussion and vocals), Hadrian Welham(guitar, pipes, harmonica, cello, electric harpsichord, harmonium, percussion, mandolin and organ) and Martin Welham(12 string guitar, organ, harmonium, piano, pipes, percussion and vocals). As you see they all play very many instruments and that is worth praising.

One reason to listen to this record is its wonderful artistic cover. It shows three mythological creatures playing their magic music in the night. The music played by Forest is nice to hear once but not very interesting. There are some pleasent songs played in an optimistic way. This modest music is a peaceful glimpse of the late sixties and a reminder of how much music that exists in history and on internet. I you don't want to listen to the full album, which includes many nice tunes I want you to listen to the track "Fading light"! That is a beautiful song and the singer on tthat track has a special voice. Of course I like the British accent on the whole record. "A glade somewhere" is happy and nice such as "Lovemakers' ways" and "Mirror of life". Those track would I recommend you if you don't want to listen to everything.

Even if not bad(far from two stars) nothing argues for making this an essential record. First of all it feels (both positive and negative) dated and secondly I have hard to see anything special here. Good but doesn't deserve a lighter place.

 Forest by FOREST album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.04 | 28 ratings

Forest Prog Folk

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars "Forest" is the self-titled debut full-length studio album by UK folk rock act Forest. The album was released through Harvest Records in 1969. A CD version wasn't available until Beat Goes On Records released "Forest" and the band's second full-length studio album "Full Circle (1970)" on one CD in 1994. Forest formed in 1966 under The Foresters of Walesby monicker but shortened their name to Forest in 1968.

The band are a trio consisting of brothers Martin and Hadrian Welham and Derek Allenby. The three guys play a varity of acoustic instruments like mandolin, pipes, harmonica, harmonium, percussion, piano, 12 string guitar, organ and cello. While their music is often labelleled folk rock, there are no drums on this album. The music is generally pretty conventional acid folk in the less odd/psychadelic end of the scale. The material is of relatively good quality but there is a way to go before they reach the quality of acts like The Incredible String Band or Comus. For that the tracks are simply too unremarkable and also too hard to tell apart.

Fans of the genre might find this a nice addition to their collections, but to those who only want the most seminal acid folk on their shelf, they can safely pass this one by. A 2.5 star (50%) rating is warranted.

 Full Circle by FOREST album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.35 | 33 ratings

Full Circle
Forest Prog Folk

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Forest´s second album Full Circle is a very nice folky prog rock album. This is another genre I don´t know much about, but a guy I meet at the public libary in the city where I live recommended Forest to me, so I thought to myself what the hell I´ll give it a try. Let me tell you something right away, these albums are very hard to get and if you find an LP version it´ll cost you dearly. Well I found a CD version and I´m glad I did as Forest is a really good band.

The music isn´t traditional folk rock but more of a blend between folk rock and pshychadelic sixties rock and a few prog rock tendencies. Personally I like the more sombre songs like Bluebell Dance and To Julie the most. Especially because of the wonderful guitar playing in those songs. Graveyard is a great song too. But overall the quality in the compositions are very high. Forest uses a lot of instruments in the songs like: mandolin, whistle, harmonica, violin, cello, piano, harmonium, electric harpsichord and percussion in addition to guitar and bass. There are no drums on the album. This of course adds to the variation between the songs and keep this album exciting the whole playing time. The singing is rather special and takes some getting used to.

The sound is really good and again I really enjoy the guitar and how it sounds.

This is a really good album and I´ll rate it 3 stars even though this is not my style of music. It´s really good though and I enjoyed it and I even think it´s a bit different than other things I have heard in the genre.

 Full Circle by FOREST album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.35 | 33 ratings

Full Circle
Forest Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars The thing that actually kind of creeps me out about this album is how similar the sounds are to any number of paisley underground bands from the early eighties. Green on Red, the Long Ryders, the Leaving Trains, Rain Parade, the Three O’Clock, and even the Golden Palominos to a certain extent. These are bands that I took a liking to when progressive music went to sh!t around 1979. Asia and Marillion just weren’t enough to quench the thirst for new music, and R.E.M. only put out an album every year and a half or so, so the sound of the Paisley Underground set was a great appeal for a kid from the mountains who’d grown up with plenty of American country music and had an appreciation for steel guitar and psych treatments on Heartland folk standards. Imagine my surprise the first time I listened to this reissue of a Woodstock-era Abbey Road record by a trio of British wyrd folk and heard some of those same sounds a full decade before they appeared in Los Angeles studio’s with American country rockers playing them!

There are a few obvious reasons for the comparison. First, the opening track “Hawk the Hawker” features the late Gordon Huntley on steel guitar, not the kind of instrument you’d expect from an early seventies British acoustic folk band. There’s also a noticeable thread of harmonica and whistles floating across the arrangement, and the net effect the first time I heard it was to instantly remind me of “Honest Man” from Green on Red’s 1985 album ‘No Free Lunch’. Sure, the vocal accents are different and the paisley bands tended to have a rougher edge since most of them came out of the west coast punk days of the latter seventies, but the folkish guitar, slightly off-key vocals, and character sketch lyrics have an uncanny resemblance to the first couple of tracks on Forest’s last album. Huntley by the way was much in demand as a session player around this time, having appeared with Whistler, Elton John (‘Tumbleweed Connection’), Rod Stewart (‘Never a Dull Moment’), and as a member of Ian Matthew’s long-standing project Southern Comfort. I didn’t realize he had passed on until I listened to this album and did a bit of research. Rest in peace Gordon.

“Bluebell Dance” also has a slightly psych sound that was so prevalent in the eighties paisley music, although again this is undeniably folk-inspired and much more mellow than most of those bands. Same goes for “The Midnight Hanging of a Runaway Serf” and “Do Not Walk In The Rain”. The vocals on those two songs have driven me a bit mad trying to recall who they remind me of, but there’s definitely someone. Maybe somebody who reads this can make the connection. The electric harpsichord from the band’s debut is present here as well, and makes for a much more folk-leaning sound than the traditional piano that is also present.

Apparently the trio took a different approach on this last album, with each of the members contributing ideas and compositions that led in slightly different directions. The result is an album that plays much more like a sampler than did the contiguous theme of their debut. This isn’t nearly as much of a folk album as the first, although the mandolin, acoustic guitar and flute keep the sound in that general vein. This is especially true of the acoustic guitar-driven instrumental “To Julie” and the mandolin-heavy “Gypsy Girl & Rambleaway”.

“Much Ado About Nothing”, “Graveyard” and “Famine Song” play more like traditional British folk, especially “Famine Song” which is mostly a capella and leans a bit to a Celtic bent.

The closing “Autumn Childhood” is a bit of a throwback to the late sixties, with bard-like story-telling vocals and gentle acoustic guitar and mandolin that pick up for a while and add harmonica for a coffee-shop folk mood. This is also the longest track Forest ever recorded to the best of my knowledge, clocking in at more than six minutes.

While the first Forest album is undeniably British folk steeped in sixties sensibilities, this one is more forward-looking and experimental. It’s a good album, but I can’t say it is great. Three stars for the courage to take some chances, but not quite as good as their debut. The band hung on for a year or so after this released, but the times they had a’ changed and the direction of progressive and folk music had already passed these guys by the time they released this album (although the spirit of the music seems to have resurfaced on the American west coast a decade later). Recommended to prog folk fans mostly, and worth a spin or two if you come across it.


 Forest by FOREST album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.04 | 28 ratings

Forest Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Forest is a band that I think sometimes gets elevated a bit by revisionist history when it comes to progressive folk. This and their other album were originally released on Harvest Records, and this one was recorded at Abbey Road where John Peel reportedly doted on the band. The originals are near impossible to get your hands on today without a fairly fat checkbook, but both albums were reissued by Beat Goes On in the nineties as a much more accessible 2CD set. This debut was also reissued by Radioactive Records on both CD and on limited-issue vinyl, and both these can be had pretty easily.

As near as I can tell these three guys must have a friendship that dates back to their youth, as they have some documented history dating to 1966 as the Forester of Walesby, and there is an impossible-to-find single from the group that was released around 1968 or so. This album was recorded and released about a year after that.

The music here has a medieval feel to it, and the combination of flute and acoustic instrumentation, multi-part harmonies, and lyrics about fairies and lovers and firing up a fatty combine to place this squarely in that latter sixties as a mildly psych-influenced brand of mellow wyrd folk. These guys got some decent attention in the studio it appears though, perhaps from Peel, or maybe Paul McCartney wandered over between takes of “Here Comes the Sun” to bogart a spliff and lent his two cents to the production. Who knows. The result in any case is a decidedly sixties trippy folk album that weathers the test of time about as well as all those old Deadhead Earth moms who crowd the free clinics today looking for their insulin and methadone treatments.

Okay maybe that’s a bit harsh. These guys were certainly sincere in trying to lay down some light, fantasy folk with lots of love and flowers and warmth-for-humankind themes, and on that count they succeeded. They also found themselves admired by a select few industry types and other musicians, but only managed to stay together for a few years after this release before fading away. The album and the band would have been far more successful had this release come out in 1965 then in 1969, but we don’t get to choose when we are born so it is what it is.

Musically this is a fun album to listen to as long as it is taken for what it is: a psych-and-patchouli driven thing that had nearly become and anachronism by the time it was released. The musical quality is very good though, with each of the trio working multiple instruments and the instrument selection itself lending well to the aura of the album: mandolin, cello, harpsichord, harmonium, flute and various pipes, and little bits of embellished percussion throughout that add to the mood of a romp through the woods on a warm summer afternoon with a lover.

The individual songs are a mixed-bag. “Do you want some smoke?” for example has a lazy cadence and flat deliver that suggests the band had plenty smoke to share at the time they recorded this. “Bad Penny” has nice vocal harmonies and pipes but sounds an awful lot like the post-Mod Moody Blues’ first two albums – I keep wanting to chant “Go now!” every time I hear this one.

The tempo and instrumentation of “A Glade Somewhere” makes it sound a bit like a Fairport Convention tune minus Sandy Denny, while the male vocals actually remind me just a bit of Dylan around the same period.

One of my favorite tunes is the languid “Nothing Else Will Matter” which has some pleasant strumming acoustic guitar, great three- part harmonies, and just the right dose of electric harpsichord to push it out of the sixties and suggest the band might have had more of a future had they evolved that sound instead of fracturing into the three-part experiment that become their second and final album.

Today Martin Welham performs with his son Tom as “the Story”, although I don’t get the impression they make a living with that. Derek Allenby has a band called Southernwood which also features his wife Cathy. I’ve no idea with Adrian Welham does, but I’m sure there’s music in that life somewhere.

This was a very good progressive folk album in 1969, even though nobody was calling it that then. It’s still good, but doesn’t hold up over time quite as well as some of the classic recordings of that day, largely because the arrangements and lyrical themes expressed here were already becoming outdated even as the band recorded them. So three stars is fair, and if you had to pick one of the band’s two albums I would make it this one.


 Full Circle by FOREST album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.35 | 33 ratings

Full Circle
Forest Prog Folk

Review by The Lost Chord

4 stars 7.2/10 Good

Full Circle is a really pleasent album that hits a few bumps and doesn't really hit many high points. Forest' sound is really great, a true folk prog sound with that usual dark/light transition found everywhere. What Forest is trying to do I think is pulled off perfectly; There is no real craziness happening, but just a band trying to get through their ideas and enjoying what they are doing. For this we have alot of, perhaps, "boring" songs to some, but to folk fans there is alot to enjoy. "Hawk the Hawker", "Graveyard" and "Famine Song" alone make this album a must listen for those interested...these songs are incredible, and are Forest at their peak! The rest of the album has some good moments but the songs feel a bit disjointed and sometimes you may only want to hear a part of a specific track. Again, though, the melodies are there and the music is fine, there is much to enjoy, you just find yourself a bit hopeful sometimes for something more, and it doesn't quite get there! Still good, though.

 Forest/Full Circle by FOREST album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1994
3.08 | 7 ratings

Forest/Full Circle
Forest Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars More psychedelic than progressive, Forest's only two albums fairly reek of the late 1960s back to nature acoustic hippy innocence. While they were generally considered followers and imitators of the Incredible String Band, when in fact they were considered at all, they were not quite as "out there", for better or worse. In my opinion they better captured the barefoot adventurousness of the era by mostly avoiding the smarminess that plagued the ISB. They were all multi-instrumentalists who generally focused on songwriting and arranging rather than playing for the sake of it. While I played this for someone who thought the production dreadful, it doesn't bother me in the least.

The debut establishes a style that does not change much over the band's short career - simple folky melodies with twists and dissonance galore, sometimes more than is beneficial. In fact at times it seems Forest doesn't know whether they want to be organic or intellectual, but where they succeed in bridging the two approaches, they succeed brilliantly, as in the triple whammy of "Sylvie", "A Fantasy You" and "A Fading Light". The failures are not so much embarrassing as unengaging, and include the last few songs on the disk. But I suspect that every Forest fan has a different view of what works and what doesn't.

"Full Circle" is somewhat less obtuse and stronger, and starts with one of Forest's most straightforward tunes, "Hawk the Hawker", which recalls Dylan's lengthy expositions but in abbreviated form. "Bluebell Dance" is totally different, a mysterious pagan ritual which, along with "Fading Light" off the debut, is my favourite Forest song. These guys knew how to create a million dollar atmosphere with pennies. "Gypsy Girl and Rambleaway" is another story resting on a strong well played melody. "Graveyard" is another triumph of mood and setting, resting on a backing of wistful whistles that at times sound like piano accompaniment. As with the first album, several songs show promise but suffer from stunted development or lack of follow through, in particular "Do Not Walk in the Rain" and "Much Ado about Nothing", and especially the interminable "Autumn Childhood".

This double CD captures the mood of the times, but its acoustic orientation saves it from anything approaching irrelevance. Well worth checking out if spending time in the forest of very English psychedelic folk rock is your thing, and isn't it everyone's?

 Forest by FOREST album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.04 | 28 ratings

Forest Prog Folk

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars I was really charmed by this bunch of guys crafting up some "raw songs of the earth", as described on the album liner notes. Their sound texture builds up from layers of acoustic guitars, mandolins, flutes and male vocals on both choral harmonies and melodic solo patterns. There are some subtle keyboards breaking up the purist medieval instrumentation, and also some lyrics are not following the ancient themes. This does not ruin the wholeness in my opinion, but makes it more fuzzy and surreal reflector of its time; There are small doses of psychedelia included in this soup, I believe. Though the music is built from simple elements, the guys have managed to fill their wailing tunes with very strong emotions, and I'm receptive to this kind of approach. All of the compositions are quite good in my opinion, but the best song of them all is "A Glade Somewhere", a really shameless crying after a woman presented in a form of powerful harmonics and melodies, making up a really pretty piece of music. The cover picture of this album presents the music it conceals perfectly. Raw color drawings fit with the basic instrumentations accessible to anybody, and the image is full of mystery and glorification of the ancient days. I bought myself a nice vinyl reissue pressed by "Radioactive", and one can also find a pic of minstrels gettin' high in ye glade within the heart of gatefold sleeve. You can surely flavor your nights of rustic aesthetics with this record, and it is thus highly recommended.
 Full Circle by FOREST album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.35 | 33 ratings

Full Circle
Forest Prog Folk

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This album synthesizes both brutal and beautiful elements, and the raw acoustic tunes create weird and very enchanting music. There are much medieval influences as a basis, but the overall aesthetics are not luckily much idealized or fantasy related, but sincere and realistic, filled with mystery, misery and violence. Music is peaceful but partly disturbing too. "Bluebell" was quite good track, and the last song "Autumn Childhood" is very weird with strange rhythm changes and several compositional parts. "The Midnight Hanging of A Runaway Serf" was also quite affecting in its ancienct sinister realism. "Graveyard" is also very beautiful and quite accessible song, but maybe best of them for me would be "Gypsy Girl & Rambleway", describing a love affair via very raw medieval sounds, in the end getting lost of psychedelic haze. Before this number there is also a fine instrumental track named "To Julie", which could have been performed by real ancient bards due the authentic feeling of it. This record is recommended sincerely for fans of depressing middle age music. As a hint, at least for me this album took several spins to open up properly, and worked best for setting up moods for sitting down to feast table, carrying ancient gastronomic delights.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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