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Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso - Black Box Recovered CD (album) cover

BLACK BOX RECOVERED

Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso

 

Eclectic Prog

3.03 | 4 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Taking some time on

The sessions for Woolly's second album "Black box" were not released as planned in 1982, the songs eventually appearing in 1994 on the "Songs from the black box" album. That release contained 9 songs from the "Black box" recordings, together with Woolly's debut album "Męstoso" in its entirely. "Songs from the black box" was subsequently deleted, while "Męstoso" remained available on CD. In response to ongoing demand from fans, the "Black box" tracks were repackaged in 2004, with nine unreleased tracks being added in place of the "Męstoso" songs. The results were re-titled "Black box recovered".

The opening "Deceivers all" was rather lost on the 1994 "Songs from the black box" album. Thankfully this magnificent number has been given pole position for this release. The track simply oozes classic BJH sounds and atmospheres, including John Lees like lead guitar by Steve Broomhead and Woolly's symphonic mellotron sound. As with all the tracks here, this is not quite the finished article, the vocals being noticeably far back in the mix (perhaps deliberately). It really is a wonderful lost BJH song though, and one which would have been a highlight of albums such as "Octoberon".

The nine tracks which are deemed to form "Black box" offer a fine diversity of styles, ranging from the soft acoustic to the magnificently pompous; in the case of "The Sunday bells", all in one track. While the recordings for the album were never seen through to completion, the quality in terms of sound and arrangement here is excellent throughout.

One further song "Why remain" from these sessions is added to this release, a gentle but unremarkable piano based ditty. We then have 4 demos of songs which were included on the "Męstoso" album. These versions are actually in a well advanced state, but devoid of drums.

Thereafter we have three live tracks recorded on a smuggled cassette recorder in Vienna in 1981 when the band were supporting Styx on a tour. Two of the tracks are from "Męstoso" and one from "Black box". The harshness of the sound quality is distracting, but the performances are excellent.

The album closes with a new song recorded in 2003 for this compilation. "Bootham Park elegy" is similar atmospherically to "The Sunday Bells", painting a rural picture on a gentle landscape.

In all, a well presented repackaging of Woolly's lost second album which offers much to enjoy. The bonus tracks are interesting but far from essential, with the exception of the new song which is worth hearing.

Random thought - why don't they make planes out of the material used for the black box?

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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