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Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso - Grim CD (album) cover


Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso


Eclectic Prog

3.78 | 17 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars Burlesque musical?

I find this more interesting than any album by Barclay James Harvest. Grim is diverse yet consistent, there are no awful songs. The songs are full of quirks and there is a perfect mix of the harmonic and the dissonant, the humours and the serious, the conventional and the weird, the sombre and the gritty. And it all holds together very well. Grim has the same kind of dark atmosphere as some of Steve Hackett's recent albums like the excellent To Watch The Storms. The cover art captures this atmosphere very nicely. On the photo of the band inside the booklet they look as if they belong to a different age. They look really cool, I think!

Overall the album is quite mellow but there are some surprising harder rocking passages and some very good lead guitar work on many tracks. The guitars are surprisingly well played and the backing band here has nothing to envy from Barclay James Harvest. Rather, Barclay James Harvest has something to envy from Maestoso. The keyboards, mainly Mellotron, are omnipresent, but as on Barclay James Harvest's albums, the keyboard playing of Woolly was never flashy or virtuosic. He was never a Rick Wakeman or a Keith Emerson, or even a Tony Banks. The keyboards here rather just provide a symphonic backdrop for the lead guitars and vocals.

The electric guitars on the softer passages on Trough A Storm sound very much like Robert Fripp. Indeed, this song has several similarities with King Crimson's early style. Woolly's vocals are fragile and tender but not weak. He could perhaps be compared with Richard Wright of Pink Floyd vocally. And perhaps not just vocally, they were both keyboard players in bands with much larger egos than themselves and both made good albums outside their bands emphasizing their own individual aspect of their respective bands.

The material is strong but it took several listens for me before I got into it. Some of the songs have a strong Folk influence, which I like. Harp + Carp is the most folky tune here, it begins in a very traditional vein, but half-way through there is a surprising rather dissonant guitar onslaught that ends with some church like organ and a harmonic symphonic ending. Interesting!

There are also many classical influences. Loot is a little acoustic guitar piece in classical style written by the guitarist of the band, Steve Broomhead. A lovely interlude! In addition to Mellotron, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums and vocals there are some trumpet, mandolin, musical saw, bull fiddle and recorders. It very often sounds like they have a full symphony orchestra in there!

The last three tracks are given the humorous heading of Three Pieces Of Musical? - The Musical and starts with an overture called Marsch Burleske.

With folky, classical, rock (and burleske!?) influences, Eclectic Prog is indeed the perfect description of this music. Maybe this is what Barclay James Harvest should have been more like.


SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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