Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

PROG FOLK

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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

4.63 | 2855 ratings
THICK AS A BRICK
Jethro Tull
4.33 | 2209 ratings
AQUALUNG
Jethro Tull
4.17 | 1196 ratings
SONGS FROM THE WOOD
Jethro Tull
4.21 | 273 ratings
ALTURAS DE MACHU PICCHU
Jaivas, Los
4.14 | 465 ratings
FIRST UTTERANCE
Comus
4.13 | 522 ratings
RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE
Gryphon
4.18 | 186 ratings
MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT
Jan Dukes De Grey
4.15 | 274 ratings
GRAVE NEW WORLD
Strawbs
4.34 | 64 ratings
ERWARTUNG
Eden
4.18 | 169 ratings
ST. RADIGUNDS
Spirogyra
4.14 | 268 ratings
HERO AND HEROINE
Strawbs
4.05 | 1045 ratings
STAND UP
Jethro Tull
4.45 | 34 ratings
LUCAS
Araujo, Marco Antonio
4.07 | 260 ratings
THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
Decemberists, The
4.14 | 113 ratings
BELLS, BOOTS AND SHAMBLES
Spirogyra
4.15 | 102 ratings
BASKET OF LIGHT
Pentangle, The
4.02 | 972 ratings
HEAVY HORSES
Jethro Tull
4.02 | 1239 ratings
A PASSION PLAY
Jethro Tull
4.13 | 102 ratings
EZEKIEL
Itoiz
4.01 | 1012 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

VALHEISTA KAUNEIN
Scarlet Thread
A CANDLE FOR JUDITH
Way We Live, The
MOTHER TWILIGHT
Faun Fables
HAUL AR YR EIRA
Pererin

Latest Prog Folk Music Reviews


 One World by MARTYN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.63 | 25 ratings

BUY
One World
John Martyn Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is an odd little album that finds John Martyn teaming up with Steve Winwood, whose organ playing adds jazzy, funky accents to Martyn's already typically laid-back sound. The end result is a weirdly sunny-sounding album which sort of resembles a folk rock artist's attempt to figure out what reggae sounded like based only on some rather vague descriptions. A strange mix, yes, but somehow an intoxicatingly catchy one, making this stylistic experiment a resounding success. Despite the fact that it its further outside the usual folk rock sphere than either Bless the Weather or Solid Air, somehow this manages to be the most accessible of Martyn's 1970s works.
 Under A Violet Moon by BLACKMORE'S NIGHT album cover Studio Album, 1999
2.68 | 85 ratings

BUY
Under A Violet Moon
Blackmore's Night Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The second Blackmore's Night album doubles down on the Ren Faire medievalisms whilst smoothing out the harder edges of the previous album, yielding an overall more sonically consistent sound over the course of the album which somehow manages to feel poppier and more accessible without being appreciably more commercial. It's still all quite pretty, but it feels like it lacks some of the imaginative departures of the previous album, and feels like a piece knocked out in response to the success of its predecessor. Certainly, there are stronger live performances of this material which inject a bit of life into them that the studio album sometimes lacks.
 The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter by INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.41 | 51 ratings

BUY
The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
The Incredible String Band Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars For many a high point in the Incredible String Band discography - it's shorter than the sprawling double album Wee Tam and the Big Huge, and crucially it predates their conversion to Scientology which sent them spinning down an often-contentious path - this is a nigh-archetypal work of psychedelic hippy folk. Nods to Indian raga music, a strange sense of humour, and the help of some friends allow the duo of Heron and Williamson to produce the closest a prerecorded studio album can get to sounding like a spontaneous hippy jam session. Fairport Convention guest on backing vocals, providing a chorus used to good effect in The Minotaur's Song.
 Stormcock by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.98 | 157 ratings

BUY
Stormcock
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by aglasshouse

4 stars Folk music is a genre as time-weathered as the most ancient forms of music out there. It's spanned generations at yet never faced a particular decline. Sure, the 20th century beckoned innovation left and right, such as the inception of jazz and rock as a pop culture medium. These genres, even though existing for a few decades, have been tampered with to the point of ridiculousness, discovering countless avant-garde pathways of musical experimentation. Yet folk hasn't really gone through a mainstream upheaval. Granted a genre as vast as folk is doubtless to maneuver through less traveled territories, which is definitely did in many different cultural landscapes. These ambitious takes on the genre were never financially popular. Most mainstream folk musicians were and are still content to patter out the same material as they were a hundred years ago, mainly because of society's familiarity and comfort with folk staying inside the proverbial box.

The 1970's ushered in the most eclectic and experimental period in recent history. Genres were not being introduced- rather they were being reintroduced in new clothes. Rock morphed itself into such genres as punk rock, disco, funk, and progressive rock (to a smaller extent). Jazz was delving deeper into perplexing territory on one side, but on the other hand genres like smooth jazz began to erupt in popularity. Hell, the two combined in the late 60's into jazz-rock, another newly-discovered music form. Still though, folk remained pinned in normalcy. Sure, psychedelic injections in the genre came from artists like Donovan, but the traditionalism still overshadowed it in popularity with acts like Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary. One artist tried to break this glass ceiling, however. Roy Harper.

To be fair, Mr. Harper doesn't necessarily require a grandiose introduction like some exalted king of tunes, but the man is quite the interesting fellow. In an interview, Harper states that he himself is not a fan of traditional folk music, and "was never really a bone fide member of the folk scene". Harper's difference from his peers becomes quite stark when delving into his music. He doesn't play like a romanticized pretty boy sticking to a linear set of sparing phrases that can be sung to make the crowd swoon, as much as he does a poet or a bard. Harper is a fan of John Keats, an 18th/17th century romantic poet, and it definitely translates fluidly into his work. He sticks mainly to lengthy songs, usually over the 8 minute mark, each filled with colorful language and rich stories. If you want to find good examples of these said songs, look no further than what is perhaps Harper's 1971 opus, Stormcock.

Stormcock is as progressive as they come. First, it has a short set of 4 tracks. Second, each track is individually lengthy, with the longest track being over 13 minutes. Third and finally, upon it's release, it was practically loathed by the labels. Marketing was practically impossible as radios refused to air it's tracks. Financially, Stormcock was a flop. A big flop. But honestly- who cares what the radios think in the end? Stormcock has since then has gained somewhat of a cult following and for good reason. It's influence has stretched quite a way to bands like The Smiths and modern folk/indie band Fleet Foxes. The album itself doesn't feature much diversity musician-wise other than Harper himself, except for Jimmy Page's under-contract-cameo as "S. Flavius Mercurius" and orchestral arrangements by David Bedford (who has worked with Kevin Ayers of Soft Machine). Roy Harper's musicianship is unique and extremely intricate. His guitar skill coupled with his sort of Ian Anderson-esque rasp color vivid literary pictures on each track. As someone who likes a bit of zesty writing, Harper is absolutely my medicine. The production is something highly praised, but personally I think it's rather rough at times. 'Same Old Rock' I know features far too blunt audio-balancing techniques and are usually just acceptable at best. I will give credit where credit is due though; the large production staff managed to master the art of atmosphere, particularly on the last track 'Me and My Woman' (we'll be coming back to this one). The echo of each instrument lends great power to every song, as well as giving it a great personality. More or less this album is guitar-centric, structured around Harper's overlapping acoustic and vocals but given different and interesting effects. If that sounded like something hackneyed to you, I'll admit that it is a bit. But usually where most 70's folk-cheese falls flat is that is becomes overly self-indulgent and you can no longer take it seriously. Stormcock has a certain subtlety to it that gives it a sense of maturity over it's contemporaries. This is mainly shown on the closer, 'Me and My Woman', which I've become convinced is one of the greatest musical compositions of the 1970s. Each movement in the song (especially the opening) flows almost perfectly into each-other, and the orchestral accompaniment does wonders to the piece. I'd really suggest checking it out on your own as it's one of the most worthwhile experiences I can recommend on this site.

Are you looking for an escape, my musically-frustrated friend? Then to reiterate: look no further than Roy Harper's Stormcock. It features some of the most soulful music to come out of the 70's folk scene, and is definitely top quality progressive material. Godspeed.

4.5 rounded to a 4 (mostly because of the production inconsistencies but also for the sake of this site's ratings system).

 The Gathering Light by KARNATAKA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.52 | 145 ratings

BUY
The Gathering Light
Karnataka Prog Folk

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars In the dim and distant past I travelled to a Sleeping Giant gig, intrigued to see what the ex-So & So's were doing, and aware that Steve Rothery would also be appearing. But they weren't the headline, that honour belonging to Karnataka. To be honest, I wasn't exactly impressed with what they were doing, and spent more of their set outside chatting with Dave Foster, and wasn't overly surprised when I heard that they had broken up a while later. But, bassist Ian Jones kept hold of the name while others departed to The Reasoning and Panic Room, and eventually put together a brand-new band using the same name as before. The first time I heard this 2010 album I was amazed, as here was real power and depth, a vibrancy and passion that immediately made an impact. Lisa Fury has a great voice, while the rest of the guys (Ian Harris (drums), Gonzalo Carrera (keyboards, piano) and Enrico Pinna (guitars)) are wonderful musicians.

There are obvious similarities to bands such as Mostly Autumn, and when listening to their use of uilleann pipes, I had a little smile to myself and thought "There's Troy Donockley", and yes it was. They also use a "real" string section as opposed to synthesised, and I note that one of these is Hugh McDowell who I first saw on TV playing with Wizzard more than forty years ago, but is probably best remembered for his years with ELO.

The album starts with an emotional, atmospheric prelude, where held-down keyboard chords provide the backdrop for Troy to place his magic. "State Of Grace" commences with some beautifully clear guitar lines, and then the band start to build and really project. This album is a delight from the start to end with elements of folk combining with symphonic progressive rock to create something that is quite special indeed. The band seem to be just at home playing light and gentle or over the top bombast, and it is this contrast that highlights the different aspects of their music. The opening prelude, "The Calling?" is an instrumental, as is "State Of Grace", which is nine minutes long, and it is only a minute into "Your World" that Lisa finally makes an entrance, as the band move into a more syncopated style. Up to then the listener things that can there be no room at all for a singer as the music is so complex, and after that one asks why were they not using her previously?

I may not have been a fan of Karnataka in their previous incarnation, but I like these guys, a lot.

 The Bridge (with Brian Willoughby) by COUSINS, DAVE album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.05 | 2 ratings

BUY
The Bridge (with Brian Willoughby)
Dave Cousins Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars With STRAWBS having been relatively active in the last decade and a half, one might not realize that from around 1980 to 2000, the band barely existed, a few limited releases and tours notwithstanding, largely because of Dave Cousins full time career in UK radio. In 1991, the archival label Road Goes on Forever re-issued the 1980 Cousins and Willoughby album "Old School Songs", and for the next few years encouraged the two gentleman to concoct a sequel. The result was "The Bridge", a now all but forgotten and virtually obsolete Strawbs related release. It's so obscure that an Ebay and discogs.com search yielded nothing, and it has certainly not been re-issued by Strawbs Witchwood label, but it assuredly exists and has been in my possession over 20 years.

First of all, its near obsolescence can be attributed to the fact that the Strawbs 2003 release "Blue Angel" included most of these tracks in barely altered form, in addition to a few other worthwhile tunes. Even before being repackaged as a full band release, it included some time and erstwhile band members Blue Weaver, Tony Fernandez, Chas Cronk, Rod Demick and Richard Hudson as guests, so muddling up personal filing systems wherever it appeared.

"The Bridge" was intended as a hybrid between the more painstakingly produced Strawbs albums and the entirely unplugged and lo-fi Cousins and Willoughby work, but, since most Strawbs albums admirably straddle that line.... Only 2 tracks didn't make the leap to the "Blue Angel" release, presumably because of their entirely acoustic nature, those being the opener "You Never Needed Water" and the finale "Song for Alex". Of the first, while Strawbs and Cousins have occasionally dabbled in C&W styles, this one is a full fledged finger picking good tune that hearkens back to the band's bluegrass beginnings and is emblazoned with Willoughby's fretting skills throughout. The lyrics are at once saucy and bitter, Cousins at his lovelorn best. Given the price that this CD is likely to command, I wouldn't say it's worth the price of admission for this song alone, but it's certainly worth your consideration if the description is to your taste. The wistful closing number "Song for Alex" has a clearer older lineage, dating back to the band's very early days. It's similar in tone to "Beat the Retreat" which appeared on "Don't Say Goodbye" in 1987, and, like the opening tune, includes splendid work by Willoughby.

Omitting the repeat exposure on Blue Angel, the other highlights here are the gorgeous "Further Down the Road" with its succinct verse and one line chorus, and the mini epic "The Plain", which could have fit on almost any album from the group's heyday, with Cousins' ponderous lyrics and a sense of dread. Several rockers are included, never the man or the band's strong suit, but "Rhythm of the Night" is a fair approximation to a Springsteen stomper. The vocal collaborations with Mary Hopkin are so-so, being a bit light by any measure, while "Strange Day over the Hill" is another country-ish shuffle with typically provocative and obtuse lyrics.

Overall, I can't really recommend this except to Strawbs fans and those who find the descriptions of the acoustic pieces to be irresistible. For the rest, I suggest the "Blue Angel" CD which also includes several more proggy tracks like "Blue Angel" itself and "There will Come the Day". It's not a great album either but definitely offers more value even ignoring the likely market prices for "The Bridge". 2.5 stars rounded down.

 Deep Cuts by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.74 | 55 ratings

BUY
Deep Cuts
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars I own all the Strawbs albums from their debut up to Ghosts, except for Dragonfly (their first two albums are harder to find than their others, I was lucky to score an original LP of their debut). Ghosts is apparently their last great album, their followup Nomadness was the beginning of their decline. Obvious A&M was not happy with the lack of commercial successful, they were commercially on a decline after Bursting at the Seams, although, of course, Hero & Heroine and Ghosts were artistic successes. Strawbs moved on to Oyster, a Polydor subsidiary, a label which Rainbow recorded for, and released Deep Cuts. It's not entirely surprising they take on a more straightforward direction here, in fact, this pretty much sound like any given prog album of the late '70s responding to the changing musical landscape. What's really amazing is Mellotron is used on every song! A couple of them rather low key, others with quite a bit, so it's one of those rare albums where every cut has tron (along with Änglagĺrd's Hybris and Viljans Öga, Cathedral's Stained Glass Stories, and the first two Greenslade albums). True, this album is less adventurous than their previous ones, but this out of the way: the last song, "So Close and Yet So Far Away" is quite dreadful. It's a truly awful soft rock ballad with lyrics that look like they came out of the Air Supply songbook. "The Soldier's Tale" and "Beside the Rio Grande" are clearly the best things on the album because they harken back to the band's glory days. "My Friend Peter" and "Charmer" are pretty enjoyable songs, while "(Wasting My Time) Thinking of You" is pretty untypical for the band, having a bit of a lounge feel to it. The rest of the album seems pretty give or take. It's a great thing that a copy of this album (as well as any of their other albums, except for their first two) are pretty easy to find and can be had for cheap, so I obviously didn't feel ripped off paying the small amount for an LP of this. It's basically an album for the fans, but while has some nice moments, and only one song I can't stand, it's not something I recommend the newcomer. Still pretty good, so three stars.
 Shadow Of The Moon by BLACKMORE'S NIGHT album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.25 | 93 ratings

BUY
Shadow Of The Moon
Blackmore's Night Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Blackmore's Night is a project which seemed to inspire a bit of cynicism when it first emerged. After all, you have Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Rainbow fame teaming up with his much younger partner, Candice Night, to play some folk rock in a medieval-ish sort of Renaissance Fayre style which they're clearly both quite keen on. All the signs of a vanity project are there - and yet, the signs prove false, because as far as medieval-tinged folk-rock goes this is actually pretty good.

Blackmore's guitar work and the backing of his fellow musicians are solid through and through - naturally, thanks to his illustrious career and extensive connections, he's able to bring together a team who really buy into the project, including a guest appearance from Jethro Tull's own Ian Anderson. (Part of me yearns for some sort of joint Blackmore's Night-Jethro Tull concert, perhaps concentrating on material like that on Minstrel In the Gallery or Songs From the Wood on the Tull side of the equation - how magical would that be? Either way, Ian is an apt choice of guest, because if your fancy is tickled by Tull's occasional trips into medieval and renaissance aesthetics this project might speak to you)

However, it's Night herself who is the real revelation here. Any sexist assumptions people might have had - "she's just a pretty face", "she's just a trophy wife", whatever - are blown out of the water here, because she reveals herself to be a more than capable frontwoman whose grasp of the material is shown in her performance The album includes a cover of Renaissance's Ocean Gypsy which Night absolutely nails, for instance - and which also sits very naturally with the rest of the material here.

Not content to merely regurgitate traditional-sounding material in a traditional style, the group experiment here and there with working electronic elements into the mix, an experiment which is startling on first hearing but seems strangely natural afterwards. On the whole, this is an extremely strong debut album and a great statement of intent for the project.

 Under Wraps by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.23 | 431 ratings

BUY
Under Wraps
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by johntetrad

5 stars I have never understood what Tull fans have against Under Wraps. It's arguably, in performance terms, the finest album in the whole of the Tull catalogue, with Anderson's voice never better, Barre's guitar thoughtful and Vetesse's keyboard arrangements always inventive and amusing. Anderson embraced the technology of the earaly 80s and truly mastered it, his drum programming and use of the Fairlight being particularly skilful. Now, yes, this album owes a deep debt to some other contemporary LPs of the time, not least The Golden Age of Wireless by Thomas Dolby and those by the post-John Foxx Ultravox (Chrysalis label mates of course). But these new influences refresh the Tull sound greatly and the whole band sound enthused and engaged.

The full 15 track CD version is the version to seek out. Highlights include the superbly brooding "Later That Same Evening", the thuggish strut of "Saboteur", the rollercoaster ride of "Heat" and the earworm riff of "Paparazzi". Had any of these songs appeared on "Warchild", "Stormwatch" or even "Broadsword and the Beast", with a 'real drummer', they would have stuck in the Tull live set for years. As things turned out, the Tull fan base took its collective ball home and refused to play, which was a real shame. The 1984 live renditions of the UW material (with added 'real drummer'!) are spirited and infectious. Sadly, the band seemed to lose confidence in the material and by the time Tull returned in 1987, they had all been dropped. True, Anderson struggled to sing much of the material live, contributing to the throat problems which have plagued him ever since (although I can't help musing that a 24/7 pipe smoking habit probably wasn't the best idea for the lead vocalist of a rock band), but the material could have been re-arranged, lowered in pitch, played instrumentally and so forth.

Under Wraps is not my favourite Tull album - that would be A Passion Play. But I enjoy UW almost as much... the different sound, instruments and arrangements are just part and parcel of the eclecticism of JT - and truly great progressive artists generally. The album rewards repeated, non-judgemental listening. Don't approach this LP with an insatiable craving for soprano sax and hammond organ; just enjoy it for what it is - an album of fantastically enjoyable progressive pop.

 The Jethro Tull Christmas Album by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.52 | 346 ratings

BUY
The Jethro Tull Christmas Album
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars In the era of extreme over-commercialization of the Christmas holidays, it seems that everyone and their mother has capitalized on releasing a musical album that commemorates one of the world's most popular holiday seasons which every single year gets pushed harder and earlier in the hope that Santa will be kind to the stock markets. It's all gotten a little too much and with albums being released by everyone from Dolly Parton to Twisted Sister, it can be a little difficult to find that true Christmas spirit. Well, what in the world is a progressive rock lover to do? It seems that the only game in town for the longest time was the Yuletide alter ego of the progressive metal outfit Savatage when they put on their Santa hats and took on their Trans-Siberian Orchestra identity to give the world a true taste of "Jingle Bell Rock." Well, at long last in 2003 one of progressive rocks most revered cohorts came through and delivered us their own take on Christianity's most consecrated occasions. I speak of course of the great JETHRO TULL and with their final album as an official band they went out in the most interesting way by giving us THE JETHRO TULL CHRISTMAS ALBUM and bestowing upon their fans a new way to add some class to their holiday listening season when listening to "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" just won't cut it any more.

This final and fairly unique album in the band's canon is a mix of completely new material and re-recordings of previously released tracks. While most of these tracks were created for the special occasion, Ian Anderson found it appropriate to simply adapt oldies but goodies to the occasion and as a result "A Christmas Song," "Another Christmas Song," "Jack And The Hooded Crow," "Weathercock," "Fire At Midnight" and "Ring Out Solstice Bells" find themselves newly recorded and given a holiday makeover to sit side by side with the newly constructed tracks. And also on board is the long time classic "Bourée" which was given a complete identity change and now feels as it was totally created for holiday cheer in the first place. Although it was originally a Johann Sebastian Bach creation that was originally the fifth movement from "Suite In E Minor For Lute, BWV 996," Anderson deliveries it in his famous style and by attaching an "F" to the lute part. He flautist skills shine on this one and the track is much more upbeat and contains other key arrangements.

THE JETHRO TULL CHRISTMAS ALBUM is a bit surprising in that it doesn't sound like a holiday tribute really. It sounds like a one of the laid back folkier albums such as "Songs Of The Wood" plus extra symphonic and instrumental embellishments. In addition to the standard TULL lineup there are a number of extras on board offering mandolin, violin, viola, cello, accordion and choral vocals adding a very refined frosting to the band's acoustic folk rock foundation. The tracks are as catchy as anything JT has dished out in the past and although Ian Anderson's vocals may be showing signs of being past their prime, his flautist flair has never been better as he takes on the role of melodist in chief and like a pied-piper of Christmas leads his musical assemblage to add the twists and turns of their established sound to bring it into holiday mode. While many of the tracks clearly have a wintery solstice feel to them, very few actually convey the holiday season in a blatant way other than the occasional lyrical content that clearly depicts certain aspects. There are key moments like at the beginning of "A Christmas Song" that have sleigh bells which is clearly brings Christmas to mind but they soon subside and allow the mandolin based folk track to shine.

When all is said and done, THE JETHRO TULL CHRISTMAS ALBUM sounds to me exactly like what Christmas would have been like in the English countryside long before the commercialization machine so successfully infiltrated every aspect of the holiday season. The folk rock mixed with acoustic symphonic touches very much corresponds to the wintery grey sky world as depicted by the album cover. This is the kind of album that you could rightfully put on any time of the year as it doesn't sound significantly different from the lighter and airier offerings by JT but should best be experienced with mulled wine, good friends and family as a nice supplement and more serious soundtrack to interrupt the regularly scheduled program of stale kids' songs and cheesy parodies that have outstayed their welcome for quite some time. While this will probably never achieve any top status in the JT canon, it certainly does attain a true respectful and non-commercial representation of the Christmas season and a brilliant way to end a most successful career and for the listener a most stressful year. Highly recommended for those who find themselves not digging the holiday music scene very much. This just might work for you.

Data cached

Prog Folk bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
0.720 ALEACION Mexico
3 DAFT MONKEYS United Kingdom
AALTO Finland
RABIH ABOU-KHALIL Lebanon
ACCOLADE United Kingdom
ACCOLADE United States
ADARO Germany
AFFORESTED United Kingdom
AFION Croatia
AGAPE Canada
AGINCOURT United Kingdom
AIGUES VIVES Germany
AKTUALA Italy
NICU ALIFANTIS Romania
ALMÔNDEGAS Brazil
ALVA Multi-National
AMANITA Italy
AMAROK Spain
AMAZING BLONDEL United Kingdom
AMBER United Kingdom
AN DRO Germany
ANACRUSA Argentina
IAN ANDERSON United Kingdom
THE ANGELS OF LIGHT United States
ANNAMY Sweden
APARECIDOS Multi-National
AQUAPLAN Finland
AQUARIUM Russia
DAN AR BRAZ France
MARCO ANTONIO ARAUJO Brazil
DAN ARBORISE United Kingdom
THE ARBORISTS Canada
ARIA PALEA Italy
ARMY OF BRIARS United Kingdom
ARTSRUNI Armenia
ASGARD France
ASHADA Japan
ASHTAR Brazil
ASI SOMOS Puerto Rico
ATMAN Poland
AUCAN Argentina
AVALANCHE Netherlands
AVE SANGRIA Brazil
AZAHAR Spain
BABADAG Poland
BABY WHALE Multi-National
BAMBIR / THE BAMBIR Armenia
BANDA DO CASACO Portugal
A BARCA DO SOL Brazil
BARR Sweden
TOMAS BATISTA Argentina
BAYON Germany
BEAT CIRCUS United States
BEDEDEUM Italy
BERNARD BENOIT France
BLACKMORE'S NIGHT United Kingdom
BLOPS Chile
BLUEHORSES United Kingdom
BOULE DE SON Canada
BRAN (BRÂN) United Kingdom
BREAD LOVE AND DREAMS United Kingdom
BRECHE Canada
PAUL BRETT United Kingdom
BRÖSELMASCHINE Germany
BUCIUM Romania
TIM BUCKLEY United States
VASHTI BUNYAN United Kingdom
C.O.B. United Kingdom
CAEDMON United Kingdom
CALIBAN United States
CÁLIX Brazil
CAMELIAS GARDEN Italy
CAN AM DES PUIG Multi-National
CANDIDATE United Kingdom
CANO Canada
CANZONIERE DEL LAZIO Italy
MARCELLO CAPRA Italy
CARMEN United Kingdom
CARNASCIALIA Italy
CAROL OF HARVEST Germany
GIAN CASTELLO Italy
PHILIPPE CAUVIN France
CHAC MOOL Mexico
CHALIBAUDE France
CHERCHE-LUNE France
CHIMERA Netherlands
CHRYSALIDE France
CIRCULUS United Kingdom
CLANNAD Ireland
CLOGS Multi-National
COMUS United Kingdom
CONGREGACION Chile
CONGRESO Chile
CONNIVENCE Canada
CONTRALUZ Argentina
CONVENTUM Canada
CORDE OBLIQUE Italy
DAVE COUSINS United Kingdom
CREMATORIUM Russia
CRYSTAL PHOENIX Italy
CRYSTAL THOUGHTS Greece
CURRENT 93 United Kingdom
DAEMONIA NYMPHE Greece
DANCER United Kingdom
DARNAKES Greece
DAWNWIND United Kingdom
DEAD CAN DANCE Australia
DECAMERON United Kingdom
THE DECEMBERISTS United States
DEMI-HEURE Canada
DETEKTIVBYRĹN Sweden
DIEGO DE MORON Spain
DODSON AND FOGG United Kingdom
DR. STRANGELY STRANGE Ireland
DULCIMER United Kingdom
DUN AENGHUS Multi-National
DUNWICH Italy
JUDY DYBLE United Kingdom
EDEN Germany
ELANE Germany
ELFONIA Mexico
NANCY ELIZABETH United Kingdom
EMERAUDE France
EMTIDI Germany
ENBOR Spain
ENGEL (MIGUEL ANGEL DE LA LLAVE JIMENEZ) Spain
L' ENGOULEVENT Canada
RÓBERT ERDÉSZ Hungary
ERGO SUM Chile
ERROBI Spain
ESPERS United States
ETERNIDAD Argentina
LA FAMIGLIA DEGLI ORTEGA Italy
FARAWAY FOLK United Kingdom
FARPOINT United States
FAUN Germany
FAUN FABLES United States
FAVERAVOLA Italy
FAVNI (FAUNS) Germany
FEATHERS United States
THE FELLOWSHIP Italy
FERN KNIGHT United States
FIABA Italy
FIELDS BURNING United States
FIORI-SÉGUIN Canada
FLAIRCK Netherlands
FLIBBERTIGIBBET South Africa
FLOR DE LOTO Peru
FOLKLORE Australia
I FOLLI DI DIO Italy
FOLQUE Norway
FORENINGEN TIL LIVETS BESKYTTELSE Denmark
FOREST United Kingdom
FORSETI Germany
FRACTAL (CHILE) Chile
FRAGUA Spain
FRED United States
FRESH MAGGOTS United Kingdom
FUCHSIA United Kingdom
FUREKĹBEN Denmark
GAIA CONSORT United States
GALADRIEL Australia
GALAHAD Germany
GALLERY United Kingdom
GARMARNA Sweden
GAROLOU Canada
GENESIS DE COLOMBIA Colombia
THE GENTLE SOUL United States
THE GHOST United Kingdom
GJALLARHORN Finland
GLAZ France
GORGO Ukraine
GRAAL France
THE GREEN CHILDREN Italy
LARKIN GRIMM United States
GROVJOBB Sweden
GROWING DREAM Canada
GRYPHON United Kingdom
GUALBERTO Spain
GURNEMANZ Germany
GWERZ France
HAIZEA Spain
ROY HARPER United Kingdom
HAWK South Africa
HAZARI Yugoslavia
HEAVEN & EARTH United States
L' HERBA D'HAMELÍ Spain
HEXVESSEL Finland
HOELDERLIN Germany
HORIZONTE Argentina
HORSLIPS Ireland
IBIO Spain
ILL WICKER Sweden
ILOUS & DECUYPER France
BRIAN IMIG United States
IN THE LABYRINTH Sweden
THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND United Kingdom
INDACO Italy
IONA United Kingdom
IRAKLIS Greece
ITHACA United Kingdom
ITOIZ Spain
ITZIAR Spain
IZUKAITZ Spain
JACK O' THE CLOCK United States
LOS JAIVAS Chile
JAN DUKES DE GREY United Kingdom
BERT JANSCH United Kingdom
JESTER United Kingdom
THE JESTERDAYS Greece
JETHRO TULL United Kingdom
NIGEL MAZLYN JONES United Kingdom
JOX France
JUSTINE Multi-National
KAAMOS Finland
KADWALADYR France
KARNATAKA United Kingdom
CHRIS KARRER Germany
KATALENA Slovenia
KEBNEKAISE Sweden
KERRS PINK Norway
KING FISH CROW United States
KLADIVO KONJ IN VODA Slovenia
KOLIBRI Germany
KOLINDA Hungary
ATTILA KOLLÁR Hungary
KONTRABURGER Poland
KORMORÁN Hungary
KOSMOS Finland
BRUCE LAMONT United States
JÉROME LANGLOIS Canada
LAURELIE Belgium
LEAFBLADE United Kingdom
PERRY LEOPOLD United States
BENITO LERTXUNDI Spain
LI TROUBAIRES DE COUMBOSCURO Italy
LISA O PIU Sweden
LISKER Spain
LONG LIVE DEATH United States
LOT LORIEN Bulgaria
LOUDEST WHISPER Ireland
CLARE LOUISE France
LUCCI MARSOLA TATINI AND BURANI Brazil
LUMSK Norway
MADDEN AND HARRIS Australia
MAGDALENA Spain
MAGICFOLK United Kingdom
MAGMA Argentina
MAJA DE RADO & PORODICNA MANUFAKTURA CRNOG HLEBA Yugoslavia
MALICORNE France
BRIAN MALONE United States
MARLBORO MAN Hungary
JUAN MARTIN Spain
JOHN MARTYN United Kingdom
MARY JANE United Kingdom
MASHMAKHAN Canada
LE MATCH Canada
SHELAGH MCDONALD United Kingdom
ME AND MY KITES Sweden
MELIMELUM Argentina
MELLOW CANDLE Ireland
THE MERLIN BIRD Australia
MESSENGER United Kingdom
MIDLAKE United States
MIDNIGHT CIRCUS Germany
MIDWINTER United Kingdom
MIRANDA SEX GARDEN United Kingdom
DRAGO MLINAREC Yugoslavia
MOĞOLLAR Turkey
COLIN MOLD United Kingdom
MONSEIGNEUR Switzerland
MONTREAL Canada
MORMOS United States
THE MORRIGAN United Kingdom
MOSTLY AUTUMN United Kingdom
MOTIS France
THE MOULETTES United Kingdom
MOURNING PHASE United Kingdom
MOVING HEARTS Ireland
MR. BROWN Sweden
MR. TOAD Israel
MUNDI DOMINI Canada
MUSHROOM Ireland
NIRGAL VALLIS Mexico
THE NOCTURNES United States
NOMADS OF HOPE Sweden
MICHEL NORMANDEAU Canada
NORTH SEA RADIO ORCHESTRA United Kingdom
THE NOVA PROJECT United States
NUEVO MEXICO Mexico
NUIT CALINE A LA VILLA MON REVE Belgium
NYA LJUDBOLAGET Sweden
GAVIN O'LOGHLEN & COTTERS BEQUEST Australia
O.W.L. United States
OBERON United Kingdom
OCTOBER PROJECT United States
OLOFERNE Italy
OMNI Spain
OPEN EYE BAND Finland
ORFANADO Italy
ORPHEUS GHOSTSONG United Kingdom
ORYZHEIN Canada
OUGENWEIDE Germany
P. G. SIX United States
PAN-RA Germany
PARADOX Poland
EMMANUELLE PARRENIN France
PARZIVAL Germany
PASTORAL Argentina
PATANGA Germany
JEAN LUC PAYSSAN France
PEARLS BEFORE SWINE / TOM RAPP United States
THE PENTANGLE United Kingdom
PERERIN United Kingdom
LINDA PERHACS United States
PESNIARY (PESNYARY) Belarus
PHOENIX Romania
PIERROT LUNAIRE Italy
PIIRPAUKE Finland
PLANKTON WAT United States
POSITIVE WAVE Finland
A PRESENÇA DAS FORMIGAS Portugal
PRINCIPAL EDWARDS MAGIC THEATRE United Kingdom
PROVIDENCE United States
PRUDENCE Norway
PTARMIGAN Canada
THE PUDDLE JUMPERS United States
QUICKSAND United Kingdom
QUINTAL DE CLOROFILA Brazil
QUINTETO ARMORIAL Brazil
RABBIT RABBIT (CARLA KIHLSTEDT & MATTHIAS BOSSI) United States
RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) Russia
RAGNARÖK Sweden
RAMASES United Kingdom
RASPUTINA United States
REBEKKA Germany
RED JASPER United Kingdom
REIFROCK Germany
REVERIE Italy
RIPAILLE France
RITMIA Italy
ROGER RODIER Canada
BERNARDO RUBAJA Argentina
KARI RUESLATTEN Norway
RUJA Estonia
S VREMENA NA VREME Yugoslavia
SAD MINSTREL Italy
SAGA DE RAGNAR LODBROCK France
SAINT JUST Italy
SAKRE Spain
THE SALLYANGIE United Kingdom
SCAPA FLOW Finland
SCARLET THREAD Finland
NATE SCOBLE United States
SECOS & MOLHADOS Brazil
SECRET GREEN United Kingdom
SEDMINA Yugoslavia
SERPENTYNE United Kingdom
GILLES SERVAT France
SHANNON France
SHAVE THE MONKEY United Kingdom
SHIDE & ACORN United Kingdom
SHINE DIÓN Norway
SILMARIL United States
SINDELFINGEN United Kingdom
SINTESIS Cuba
JIMI SLEVIN Ireland
SMELL OF INCENSE Norway
SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS United Kingdom
SORNE United States
SPARIFANKAL Germany
SPIRES THAT IN THE SUNSET RISE United States
SPIROGYRA United Kingdom
SPRIGUNS (OF TOLGUS) United Kingdom
STACKRIDGE United Kingdom
VLATKO STEFANOVSKI Macedonia
ALAN STIVELL France
STONE ANGEL United Kingdom
STÓRSVEIT NIX NOLTES Iceland
STRANGE DAYS United Kingdom
STRAWBS United Kingdom
PEKKA STRENG Finland
STRING CHEESE United States
STRING DRIVEN THING United Kingdom
STUMARI Georgia
SUBURBANO Spain
SUBWAY Multi-National
SÜNDENFALL II Germany
SUPAY Peru
SUR PACIFICO Chile
SUSSITA Israel
SYNANTHESIA United Kingdom
TALAMASCA United States
TALITHA QUMI Romania
TAMALONE Netherlands
TAMARUGO Chile
TANGERINE France
TARENTULE France
TARUJEN SAARI Finland
LOU MAXWELL TAYLOR United States
TEA AND SYMPHONY United Kingdom
TEMPEST United States
TENHI Finland
TERRA MYSTICA Slovenia
BOB THEIL United Kingdom
THE THIRD ESTATE United States
THISTLETOWN United Kingdom
THOBY LOTH Finland
THORK France
THURSAFLOKKURINN Iceland
TIR NA NOG Ireland
TIRILL Norway
TORNAOD France
TRADER HORNE United Kingdom
TREES United Kingdom
THE TREES COMMUNITY United States
TREMBLING BELLS United Kingdom
TRI YANN France
TRIO DAG Yugoslavia
TROCARN Switzerland
TROISIČME RIVE France
TROISSOEUR Belgium
TUATHA DE DANANN Brazil
TUDOR LODGE United Kingdom
TUIMA Finland
TUNEFISH Germany
TURQUOISE Poland
TUSMŘRKE Norway
TYRANNOSAURUS REX (NOT T. REX) United Kingdom
U I BLUE United States
UDRAYA France
UNCLE DIRTYTOES United States
UNGAVA Canada
UNITED BIBLE STUDIES Ireland
STEVE UNRUH United States
UQBAR Argentina
US AND THEM Sweden
VEGA Spain
VIIMA Finland
VOICE OF THE SEVEN WOODS United Kingdom
RILEY WALKER United States
JUNE WALLACK Canada
WATER INTO WINE BAND United Kingdom
WATERTOUCH Sweden
THE WAY WE LIVE United Kingdom
LEAH WAYBRIGHT United States
WERWOLF (WEREWOLF ART ROCK) Germany
ROBIN WILLIAMSON United Kingdom
WITTHUSER AND WESTRUPP Germany
WOVEN HAND United States
WURTEMBERG France
WYRDGENES United Kingdom
GABRIEL YACOUB France
YAVANNA Germany
YGGDRASIL Germany
YOKE SHIRE United States
YOU AND I Hungary
ZAGUAN Spain
ZARTONG Armenia
ZAUBER Italy
ZEIT Italy
ZLYE KUKLY Israel
ZRNI Czech Republic
ZYWIOLAK Poland

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives