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PROG FOLK

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Prog Folk definition

In the wake of the 60's, a Folk revival started on both sides of the Atlantic, and got quickly linked with a protest movement, not always, but often linked to more left-wing tendencies, which did not sit well with the authorities. BOB DYLAN, JOAN BAEZ, WOODY GUTHRIE, JOHN DENVER, BUFFY STE-MARIE, but also the FARINA couple Richard and Mimi for the US and SHIRLEY COLLINS and EWAN McCOLL (mentor of BERT JANSCH, JOHN RENBOURN ) for the UK and HUGUES AUFRAY in France. In Quebec, there was the "Chansoniers" phenomenon among which CLAUDE LEVEILLE and FELIX LECLERC were the most popular, waking up the sleepy "Belle Province" and stand up for itself from the English rule. The English part of Canada also brought up JONI MITCHELL, LEONARD COHEN (although he was from Montreal) and NEIL YOUNG.

As DYLAN turned electric with his Highway 61 Revisited album, much to the dislike of purists who yelled for treason, Folk Rock was born, opening the floodgates for younger artists to turn on the electricity. As DYLAN soon abandoned to style to create Country Rock with his next album, his British equivalent Scotsman DONOVAN stayed true to Folk Rock. In the US, THE BYRDS were the main promoters of the style by now, culminating with the superb "Eight Miles High" track with a lengthy (for the times) guitar solo of almost one minute. But countless other bands on the west coast, such as LOVE, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE (and later its spin-off HOT TUNA), GRATEFUL DEAD, QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE, PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, and TIM BUCKLEY all started in the folk rock realm. Even San Fran's SANTANA with its Latino traditional music and, on the east coast, NY's THE LOVING SPOONFUL had folk roots. Notwithstanding the immense popularity of SIMON & GARFUNKEL and their delicious harmonies, Folk Rock was appealing only to the rock public as the older generations turned their backs in folkies.

In the UK, following on their countrymen DONOVAN, many Scotsmen were very influent in exploring new grounds for folk rock: INCREDIBLE STRING BAND (led by Scots Palmer and Williamson) with their two highly influential albums "5000 Layers Or The Spirit Of The Onion" & "The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter" and THE PENTANGLE (led by other Scots Renbourn, Jansch and McShee and their superb bassist Danny Thompson) and its incredible fusion of folk, blues and jazz style were very instrumental in developing the style to the same extent as FAIRPORT CONVENTION and THE STRAWBS who by that time were still more conventional US "west-coast folk rock". The single artistes in folk rock became known as Folk Troubadours were also numerous and often presented a more progressive side of folk: AL STEWART, NICK DRAKE, ROY HARPER, TYRANOSAURUS REX (actually a duo of Steven Took and Marc Bolan) , JOHN MARTYN etc.

However, the real angular album that will lead to further change of Folk Rock is FAIRPORT CONVENTION's "Liege & Lief" album, that proved to be highly influential for another generation of groups: this album concentrated into electrifying seminal English traditional folk and retained that quaint Englishness taste. It is interesting to see that both leaders of FAIRPORT quit the band after this success to go their respective way: Sandy Denny to a solo folk songwriting career and Ashley Hutchings to a very traditional folk rock. By this time, most connoisseur were talking of Acid Folk, Psych Folk, and Progressive Folk, all having limited differences and no particularly drawn-out limits or boundaries, but all relying on experimental or groundbreaking adventures and good musicianship but not necessarily of an acoustic nature.

Groups like THE THIRD EAR BAND and QUINTESSENCE relied on eastern Indian music influences and, sometimes, medieval tones. Other groups like the weird COMUS, THE TREES, SPIROGYRA, FOREST, the superb JAN DUKES DE GREY (all listed in the ProgArchives) but also TRADER HORNE, TUDOR LODGE, FOTHERINGAY, MAGNA CARTA, TIR NA NOG (all of whom could also be in the ProgArchives) were out to break new ground but with less commercial success as their predecessor. By 1972, all of the glorious precursors bands were selling fewer records and had problems renewing themselves and a newer generation of groups was relying in a more Celtic jigs or really traditional sounds. Such as HORSLIPS, DANDO SHAFT, STEELEYE SPAN, AMAZING BLONDEL, ALBION DANCE BAND and SPRIGUNS OF TOLGUS. Although JETHRO TULL had some definitive folk roots right from the start, their only albums that can be regarded as Prog Folk are 77's Songs From The Woods and 78's Heavy Horses. Ian Anderson (another Scots) was very keen in acoustical traditional songs. Some Folk Troubadours such as TIM BUCKLEY and JOHN MARTYN started turning records more and more axed towards fusing jazz and folk (a bit in what THE PENTANGLE were doing) , others became more and more electric and they started to be referred to as Singer Songwriters especially those with country rock influences.

In Germany, HOELDERLIN (and their fantastic debut album), EMTIDI, OUGENWEIDE, CAROL OF HARVEST, WITTHEUSER & WESTRUPP were exploring German folk while KALACAKRA , SILOAH and EMBRYO were indulging with Indian music. In South America, most notably in Chile, LOS JAIVAS (very bent upon Andean Indian music) and EL CONGRESSO (more Spanish-Latino folklore) were using folk in their rock, so much that some press talked about them referring it with the hateful term Inca Rock. In Quebec, the progressive movement exploded with the cultural identity and the Chansoniers tradition and this was carried out with LES SEGUIN and HARMONIUM and so many more. In France, many groups were out for folk rock such as RIBEIRO ALPS, TANGERINE, and ASGARD. In Spain, Flamenco playing a dominant role as well as Basque folk, TRIANA, ITOIZ and HAIZEA were the head of the movement once the Franco regime fell apart after his death.


There is also a very important medieval music influences dimension in some groups as the term Medieval Folk was also mentioned for a while but apparently dropped by musicologists. Among the UK groups are obviously GRYPHON, GENTLE GIANT and THIRD EAR BAND, in France: MALICORNE and RIPAILLE and in Scandinavia: ALGARNAS TRADGARD and FOLQUE.


Hugues Chantraine

Current Team as of January 1, 2015

Bob Moore aka ClemofNazareth
Ken Levine aka Kenethlevine
Sean Trane

Prog Folk Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Prog Folk | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.64 | 2460 ratings
THICK AS A BRICK
Jethro Tull
4.33 | 1892 ratings
AQUALUNG
Jethro Tull
4.17 | 1023 ratings
SONGS FROM THE WOOD
Jethro Tull
4.17 | 240 ratings
ALTURAS DE MACCHU PICCHU
Jaivas, Los
4.21 | 144 ratings
ST. RADIGUNDS
Spirogyra
4.13 | 456 ratings
RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE
Gryphon
4.13 | 408 ratings
FIRST UTTERANCE
Comus
4.16 | 241 ratings
GRAVE NEW WORLD
Strawbs
4.15 | 225 ratings
HERO AND HEROINE
Strawbs
4.15 | 163 ratings
MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT
Jan Dukes De Grey
4.10 | 242 ratings
THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
Decemberists, The
4.32 | 53 ratings
ERWARTUNG
Eden
4.04 | 899 ratings
STAND UP
Jethro Tull
4.16 | 92 ratings
EZEKIEL
Itoiz
4.01 | 1070 ratings
A PASSION PLAY
Jethro Tull
4.13 | 98 ratings
BELLS, BOOTS AND SHAMBLES
Spirogyra
4.00 | 841 ratings
HEAVY HORSES
Jethro Tull
4.10 | 111 ratings
HÖLDERLINS TRAUM
Hoelderlin
4.21 | 57 ratings
THE COURAGE OF OTHERS
Midlake
3.99 | 846 ratings
MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY
Jethro Tull

Prog Folk overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Prog Folk experts team

HAUL AR YR EIRA
Pererin
AMETSAREN BIDEA
Errobi
SÓLO FUE UN SUEŃO
Omni
THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX
Sad Minstrel

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Latest Prog Folk Music Reviews


 Live At The BBC Vol Two: In Concert by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2010
4.08 | 3 ratings

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Live At The BBC Vol Two: In Concert
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars The second of the Strawbs's Live at the BBC: In Concert is just what this double CD features. Outtakes from three concerts dating from 1971, 1973 and 1974 are featured and include the group's best known and appreciated songs from the album's From the Witchwood, Grave New World, Bursting at the Seams and the group's prog masterpiece Hero and Heroine. All of the essential songs from Hangman And The Papist, New Word, Down By The Sea through to all album highlights from Hero and Heroine are included.

As with Vol One, Vol Two's material was well rehearsed and played again owing to the need to present decent sounding album ttracks to the British public who were restricted from listening to actual album cuts or singles due to the BBC 'needle time" restrictions with the UK's Musician's Union.

Rick Wakeman is only present for the first concert from 1971 but he shines as usual as does his replacements Blue Weaver and John Hawken who demonstrate that both were masters of their Mellotron as well as great pianists. Highlights of these concerts include an a wonderful instrumental piano into organ jam featuring Wakeman titled RMW which I initially thought was Wakeman's initials until I discovered that his middle name is Christopher (!) along with an great extended organ jam on the coda to the song Sheep.

Highlights from the John Hawken era group feature a few older songs such as New Word and The River/Down By the Sea that are magnificent with Hawken's incredible Mellotron, complete with choir setting, virtually exceeds the orchestrated album cuts found on Bursting at the Seams album.This group naturally does justice to all of the Hero and Heroine tracks as they are motivated by the great crowd reaction and are naturally at the top of their game.

The addition of rocker dave Lambert for the 1973 and 1974 concerts definitely gives a greater overall vocal delivery from the group as well as the obvious shift to a more rocking (and louder) sound.

My sole complaint with Live at The BBC Vol Two is some uneven vocal mixing on a few songs of each concert, but overall, it's a great concert presentation of the Strawbs.

We again return to the question of how essential is this album to Strawbs' fans. I would have to say that it is very essential based on the diversity of the material, the diversity of the performers from different eras, the quality of the performances and the excellent re-mastered sound. 4 stars.

 Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2010
3.17 | 3 ratings

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Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

3 stars One of the harder issues to balance in an album review is determining how essential a given work is to an artist's fans.

The Strawbs Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session is just such a compilation in question. As opposed to Live At The BBC Vol Two, Vol One is a single CD that contains all of the Strawbs' radio session recordings for broadcast on various BBC radio show such as Top Gear hosted by the legendary John Peel. In his autobiography, Exercising Ghosts, Strawbs' founder and leader Dave Cousins expressed sincere gratitude at being given the chance to perform on the BBC in both the Strawbs and the band's predecessor, The Strawberry Hill Boys. Cousins' stated that the Strawbs put 100% effort in their BBC performances as this supplemented actual album playing time that was cut down owing to an agreement with the UK's Musician's Union. And it shows. Every broadcast performance is easily discernible as a top notch performance from a group that really had only a couple of shots of getting a complicated song like The Battle right in the three hour time limit that was afforded each song by the BBC session producers and studios.

The Battle, from this first CD, is easily it's highpoint as future Strawbs' producer Tony Visconti brought in both Clare Deniz on cello and the great Rick Wakeman on organ to play on this daunting song, and the band and guests easily nail the performance given the limitations of the BBC recording studio's two or three track recording equipment. These sessions would be the first contact of Cousins with both guests, who would ultimately join The Strawbs, albeit briefly.

As time passes, both the Strawbs and the BBC recording studios get noticeably better as does Cousins' songwriting and the addition of later band members like John Ford, Blue Weaver and Dave Lambert easily fortifies their playing ability. Especially on partial jamming songs like the wonderful Is It Today, Lord? while the second recorded version of New World is even more menacing with just Cousins and Toby Hooper handling the vocals while singing over the ominous chords emitting from Blue Weaver's icy Mellotron. Even the hackneyed chart hit Part Of The Union receives an excellent mulit tracked group chorus that revels the original studio version.

Good stuff. But again, we return to the question of how essential is Live At the BBC Vol One: In Session? Well, if you have all of the original albums, then this compilation is superfluous as it simply does not contain any significant recordings of historical value, as opposed to the one off folk rock songs found on the celebrated Fairport Convention BBC sessions album titled Heyday from the same era. So, three stars is a reasonable rating for these well played and recorded (and re-mastered) session songs.

 Balloons by LOUISE, CLARE album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.95 | 2 ratings

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Balloons
Clare Louise Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars If the rhythms and accompaniment of "Balloons" occasionally steer CLARE LOUISE towards alt rock more than on her debut, and even her enunciation approaches the conventional, she appears to have found a middle ground between pop conformity and folk subversity. As before, her strength is in steering memorable, accessible melodies into less familiar patterns, and doing so with an eternally fragile voice that sounds like she couldn't swallow all the water she needed to grease her gears. Kind of like a Euro folk-prog half sister to IRIS DEMENT, and almost as backwoodsy.

Two similarly titled songs are both highlights: the organ suffused dirge of "I Don't Know this Place", and the more singer songwriter inspired "I Don't Sleep Anymore", into which deliberate electric chords are planted. leaving faintly martial percussion in the shade. The sweet ballad "You'll Alway be my Love" sounds like it is built upon ukelele or at least mandolin, but again as it builds the keyboards and more constant drumming affirm the bolder style.

Unfortunately, tracks like "Both Moods" and "Somewhere Else" could be by almost anyone, and even some vaguely evocative horns and strings don't fully salvage the dreary "Where I come From". Luckily there is "Impossible Road" rising like a sunflower on the back 40, thanks partly to Louise's homage to her voice coach towards the end, and "Sweet Blue" welcomes 1960s pop in an authentic manner. We are still treated to sumptuous string arrangements that recall those by Robert Kirby via NICK DRAKE and even some later BLONDEL.

The irresistible flow of Louise's debut is missing here but I still found a lot to like. Sophomore jinx? Or the initial blown kisses of a slow deflation? Stay tuned.

 Cauldron of Life by THOBY LOTH album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Cauldron of Life
Thoby Loth Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars THOBY LOTH from Vaasa (in the West coast of Finland) released their debut album in 2009. This follower made by the same quartet line-up - led by the composer-flautist-keyboardist Tobias Tĺg - three years later, is musically pretty similar; the differences are primarily elsewhere. First, the titles are now in English instead of the group's mother tongue Swedish. They play melodic and powerful instrumental [hard] rock with elements from traditional and Medieval music. A lot of flute! Musical references such as JETHRO TULL, BLACKMORE's NIGHT, KEBNEKAISE or PIIRPAUKE may help to form a picture of their sound.

Compared to the debut Lägereldarnas Tid (= The Time of Campfires) that was inspired by Northern mythology and forests, Cauldron of Life seems to be slightly less folky and possibly tighter in the rock power. For example, there were some flute dominated moments on the debut that sounded a lot like PIIRPAUKE drawing from the Finnish folk music. On the other hand, I'm well aware how the imagery created by track titles affects on the way the music is felt. Figuratively speaking, the band came out of the ancient wood inhabited by mythological creatures, perhaps losing some of the folklore romanticism along the way. Track titles such as 'The Black Coast', 'Temple of the Stars' and 'Memories in Stone' sound more like a Tolkienesque fantasy drama with high-tech production.

But whatever images you may get, Thoby Loth clearly haven't lost their own Scandinavian-rooted identity on the altar of commercial aspirations. [Carved] stone has taken the place of the wood in the imagery, but in the end that's very appropriate, as the sound is sharper and rockier (Kenethlevine points out the preference of guitar over organ).

By the way, both albums include nine tracks, all fairly good and excellently produced. I'm ashamed to confess that when I was originally handwriting the very positive review on a piece of paper, I was listening to the debut by mistake, having accidentally placed the discs on the wrong covers. (And it had been several months since the last listening.) I felt like an idiot and was angrily frustrated, because I had to withdraw my comments dealing with individual tracks and the possible differences between the albums. Actually now I can only think that the differences are very minimal in music itself. Kenethlevine clearly prefers this one but for me the debut perhaps has a more sincere folky atmosphere while this is undoubtedly better from the hard rock aspect. The same fours stars again, then. Both albums warmly recommended to all listeners of powerful instrumental Folk Rock.

 Roy Harper & Jimmy Page: Whatever Happened To Jugula? by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.75 | 23 ratings

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Roy Harper & Jimmy Page: Whatever Happened To Jugula?
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars "We're not just spirits disappearing."

Whatever Happened to Jugula?, or just Jugula, as Roy Harper has now retitled the album for the 21st century, is one of those rare alchemical albums that's the result of odd circumstances putting desperate musicians together.

To say that Roy Harper has heady friends is almost an understatement with David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, Ian Anderson, and even Pete Townsend, as contributors to Harper's albums over the years, as well as being sincere fans of Harper and his work.

This particular album features the reunion of Jimmy Page as a guest artist in an expanded roll as collaborator, as Page was recovering from heroin addiction at the time, as well as trying to get his bum in gear and move on from the demise of Led Zeppelin. Harper was in a slump after leaving EMI records and found himself with a deal on the Beggar's Banquet label. With both Harper and Page rejuvenated, Jugula is assisted by Harper's long time studio contributors, the great Tony Franklin on fretless bass and Steve Broughton on drums, with studio engineer Nik Green contributing deft keyboards to the record as well.

The album's first track Nineteen Eighty Fourish (actually listed on the album sleeve as Nineteen Forty Eightish as an inside joke from Harper) is a mighty opener as subtle but unmistakable Dooms Day sounding synths swirl around Harper's brash sounding Ovation acoustic strums as Roy delivers the first of many heartfelt of the album's great vocal deliveries. The song is now a period piece about the never ending nuclear arms threat of the 1980's but still seems to ring clear as a metaphor for the current world's dire situations. The song is punctuated by caustic electric guitar phrases and shapes from Page (that are not imitative of David Gilmour but would be quite at home on both Pink Floyd's Animals and The Wall albums) before the both Harper and Page do their now familiar acoustic guitar interplay near the song's coda. Page is back in top form and is now experimenting with the harrowing electric guitar tones and styles that would dominate the songs of his group The Firm that was shorty to come.

The spoken word poem Bad Speech is just what the name implies, and would have sounded ostentatious if the piece did not segue into the album's, and perhaps Harper's, best ever song titled Hope. With a hypnotic guitar riff written by none other than David Gilmour, and played by Harper's talented son Nick (with guitar effects lent to him by Gilmour), the song is nothing short of Harper's own album crowner like Comfortably Numb is for Floyd's The Wall album. Hope is not even remotely similar to Comfortably Numb, but every bit as emotive and evocative due a wonderfully powerful vocal by Harper, along with a stellar musical delivery by all those previously mentioned. It's one of Harper's must profound moments on record as well as being one of his best progressive rock songs ever recorded.

Hangman and Elizabeth return to the acoustic/electric guitar formula of Nineteen Eighty Fourish without sounding derivative. More spurts of Page electric guitar pyrotechnics dot both songs as Nik Green continues to add subtle but atmospheric synths to both songs. Dealing with both capital punishment and the need for universal understanding, both songs succeed due to harper's sincere vocal delivery.

Both songs are followed by the acoustic guitar dominated song titled Frozen Moment in which Harper poetically states the feeling that over comes someone when they realize, in the second, that a love relationship has ended. Page and Harper's chilling arpeggios combined with icy synths from Green easily nail the song. It's another of the album's and Harper's recorded highlights.

Twentieth Century Man-Beast is a straight acoustic song played by both Harper and Page and is highlighted by Harper's great vocal range that never wavers into shrill extremes.

As is his his want, and modus operandi, Harper ends the album anticlimactically with the throwaway singsong Advertisement, which, I suppose, is Harper's answer to Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Women Numbers 12 And 35, as the song's chorus is a corny refrain of 'Man, I'm really stoned, yes I'm really stoned" and the cliched drink/drug bravado that goes along with such a tune. The song's music is actually quite catchy despite it's trite subject matter.

Jugula maintains Harper's string of meticulous studio recordings that commenced with his tenure as an Abby Road Studio's recorded EMI artist, and is quite detailed and dynamic for an album recorded in the eighties.

Owing to the album's silly closing track and the feeling of sameness that pervades three of the album's songs, despite the song's numerous time changes and guitar breaks, four stars is a reasonable rating for Jugula.

Whenever I hear the age old gripe that there's not any good Prog Rock music around and the person is unfamiliar with Roy Harper's work, I always play Jugula for them. And I'm still amazed when the person exclaims "Why didn't I know about this?", which is usually followed by a deep laugh and broad smile from yours truly.

 Black Ships Ate the Sky by CURRENT 93 album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.80 | 11 ratings

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Black Ships Ate the Sky
Current 93 Prog Folk

Review by moodyxadi

4 stars Never a fan of folk music at all my knowledge about Curret 93 was restricted to works as Nature Unveiled and Dogs Blood Rising, terrifying opuses that really makes me feel frightened. The development of David Tibet's music over the years was very diverse finding its main focus on what we can call (with some restrictions) neofolk of British pedigree. This album is beautiful but still terrifying in a very different way than the others mentioned above. It's the most important thing on the genre that I have heard in the last ten years. You cannot really describe it and listening to fragments just don't help either; try to catch it the way you can and listen to the full piece while reading Rob Young's "Electric Eden" and you'll get a glimpse of the development of English folk music to its nineteenth century roots till today. Fascinating and essential for music lovers with a taste for adventure and brave enough to face his innermost fears. Prog? I don't think so but who cares? For me is a 5 star-album that gets only four because you can't call it prog in a proper way.
 Bursting At The Seams by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.55 | 121 ratings

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Bursting At The Seams
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Strawbs were criticized by the English press for abandoning their folk roots and Dave Cousins just managed to confirm these statements, when he put the band on ice for a short time to record and release his debut solo album ''Two weeks last summer'', more or less following the electric approach of Strawbs' last album.The band then hit the road for a really exhausting tour with visits to Europe and the first tranatlantic trip for some dates in The States.After returning to UK for another set of lives, Tony Hooper decided to leave the band, he was among those feeling that Strawbs should insist on their folkier echoes.He was replaced by ex-Fire and King Earl Boogie Band Dave Lambert, who guested also on Cousins' debut album.During the autumn of 73' the band recorded the album ''Bursting at the seams'', released the following year on A&M.

Had the band eventually taken seriously what the press said about their style?I really do not know, but ''Bursting at the seams'' seems like a trip back in time, Strawbs abandoned the long and symphonic-flavored pieces of ''Grave new world'' for a more rural, poppier sound with emphasis on acoustic guitars and piano/keyboards, strong British Folk flavors and melodic tunes without much of an adventurous spirit.Of course the songwriting is pretty efficient as always and the arrangements are sophisticated with some soft electric guitars, light organ and even orchestral colors surrounding the acoustic moves, but the whole opening side recalls their late-60's days with the dominant Psych/Folk enviroment, only saved by the much harder ''Down by the sea'', an intricate mix of sharp electric moves, symphonic Mellotron and folky aesthetics, this is Strawbs at their best.''Tears And Pavan'' is the other piece to remind of KING CRIMSON/GENESIS' early days, featuring omnipresent Mellotron, trembling guitars and a great combination of mandolin and harsichord in the process.''The winter and the summer'' is another goodie of the flipside, basically close to the likes of ANTHONY PHILLIPS with a mellow Symphonic/Folk Rock atmosphere, based on electroacoustic changes and relaxed organ.Definitely the best side of the original album, even other the pair of more laid-back tracks are interesting and charming.

Mix Strawbs from late-60's and early-70's and the result cannot be anything else than ''Bursting at the seams'', a collection of Folk and Prog Rock tunes with a fairly interesting and melodic sound, great vocals and some pretty enganging orchestrations, far from the amazing ''Grave new world'', but still interesting and pleasant.Recommended.

 The Man in the Bowler Hat (AKA Pinafore days) by STACKRIDGE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.19 | 24 ratings

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The Man in the Bowler Hat (AKA Pinafore days)
Stackridge Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Stackridge's popularity increased with each release and in February the band made its television debut on a BBC programm, followed by a two-month tour.It was something like a tradition for them to be supported by future Prog Rock giants, this time the supporting act meant to be the legendary Camel.Later on ex-Audience Keith Gemmell joined the band on saxophone and during the summer they recorded their third work ''The man in the bowler hat'' at the Air Studios in London, supervised by The Beatles' producer George Martin, who also appeared in a few tracks as a pianist.The album was the last one on MCA, launched in 1974 and released in a different version in USA and Canada under the title ''Pinafore days''.

At this point Stackridge appear to lose contact with their progressive beginnings, the presence of George Martin on the production stool surfaced an even more evident THE BEATLES' relation both on vocal and instrumental parts and the complex themes have been pretty much reduced to zero.On the other hand this was not your average Pop/Folk Rock album, it maintained a highly sophisticated profile with demanding orchestrations and instrumental richness among the sweet mono- and polyphonic harmonies and the charming melodies with the discreet GENESIS influences being still around in the guitar and organ parts, this is basically an Art Pop album with glimpses of British Prog Rock, heavily relying on the instrumental variety, lots of flute, strings and keyboards pop out in the process next to the standard electroacoustic sound of the band.The long tracks are sorely missed here and actually their length has been decreased to an average of 3 minutes each, but the inspiration of the British veterans remains always at a high level, even if THE MOODY BLUES, THE BEATLES or STEELEYE SPAN seem like more appropriate comparisons than to say Genesis or Strawbs.Veteran producer George Martin helped the band to complete some great orchestral moves, doubled with Britrish Folk and Pop sensibilities, the result was a pretty fascinating work with lovely harmonies and a pretty accesible sound.

Not among the priorities of a Classic Prog fan.This sounds mostly like The Beatles at their most complicated attempts, orchestral and melodic music with minor proggy vibes, quite tasteful and fairly entertaining.Recommended.

 Stormcock by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.01 | 143 ratings

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Stormcock
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

5 stars Usually I try to write useful reviews and I try to explain a bit of the album in question or at least give my impressions about the music I listened to. With Roy Harper's fifth album, Stormcock (1971), is almost impossible for me to do so.

This is a kind of music that gets me in a way that is hard to put in words. 4 tracks, basically Roy his guitar and his voice. There are some guests and some fantastic overdubs but they're not the main reason to listen this album.

The way the melodies go on in a hypnotic way make you think how you actually got this little amazing gem get past you all this years??

They say better late than never and I couldn't agree more. It is music for the soul rather than music for the brain (as usualy is with Progressive Rock) and if you open your soul to it you can put this album and forget about the world for 40 minutes. And for me, that's all that really matters!

 Secrets of Angels by KARNATAKA album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.97 | 13 ratings

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Secrets of Angels
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by huge

3 stars Not quite the seven year gap between albums this time - just the five... as I noted on my last review for KARNATAKA. Though in their defence the group had all moved on (as they had done previously!) but this time the phoenix has risen faster - perhaps they have learnt from the experience...

This is a good album; a very good one if the previous one were not taken into account, which was (imho) a far superior album, this one is too 'samey' and hasn't really progressed, as a result a sense of d'j' vu pervades.

Ian Jones and Enrico Pinna have managed to maintain the status quo and the shrewd addition of Hayley Griffiths cements this, as she has a very similar style to her predecessor, Lisa Fury. We even have the uilleann pipes making a return.

Whilst this all might sound overly negative, I do feel that after THE GATHERING LIGHT this group would struggle to surpass this epic. And I stand by this; but any group having gone through the transition that KARNATAKA has been through would inevitably struggle, but here they have done something that is close to being miraculous - the sound, the direction and the feel is identical - in fact was it really a lapse of five years?

I just hope this reincarnation remains stable and can make the natural progression to their next release...

However, like the predecessor, I will play this a number of times and hopefully it will grow on me.

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Prog Folk bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
0.720 ALEACION Mexico
3 DAFT MONKEYS United Kingdom
A PRESENÇA DAS FORMIGAS Portugal
AALTO Finland
RABIH ABOU-KHALIL Lebanon
ACCOLADE United Kingdom
ADARO Germany
AFFORESTED United Kingdom
AFION Croatia
AGAPE Canada
AGINCOURT United Kingdom
AIGUES VIVES Germany
AKTUALA Italy
NICU ALIFANTIS Romania
ALMÔNDEGAS Brazil
AMANITA Italy
AMAROK Spain
AMAZING BLONDEL United Kingdom
AMBER United Kingdom
AN DRO Germany
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