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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 | 2404 ratings
THICK AS A BRICK
Jethro Tull
4.32 | 1839 ratings
AQUALUNG
Jethro Tull
4.16 | 1005 ratings
SONGS FROM THE WOOD
Jethro Tull
4.17 | 235 ratings
ALTURAS DE MACCHU PICCHU
Jaivas, Los
4.21 | 140 ratings
ST. RADIGUNDS
Spirogyra
4.13 | 448 ratings
RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE
Gryphon
4.13 | 404 ratings
FIRST UTTERANCE
Comus
4.15 | 235 ratings
GRAVE NEW WORLD
Strawbs
4.15 | 221 ratings
HERO AND HEROINE
Strawbs
4.14 | 163 ratings
MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT
Jan Dukes De Grey
4.11 | 239 ratings
THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
Decemberists, The
4.31 | 52 ratings
ERWARTUNG
Eden
4.04 | 874 ratings
STAND UP
Jethro Tull
4.16 | 91 ratings
EZEKIEL
Itoiz
4.01 | 1048 ratings
A PASSION PLAY
Jethro Tull
4.13 | 96 ratings
BELLS, BOOTS AND SHAMBLES
Spirogyra
4.00 | 824 ratings
HEAVY HORSES
Jethro Tull
4.10 | 109 ratings
HÖLDERLINS TRAUM
Hoelderlin
3.98 | 827 ratings
MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY
Jethro Tull
4.21 | 54 ratings
THE COURAGE OF OTHERS
Midlake

Prog Folk overlooked and obscure gems albums new


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

MOTHER TWILIGHT
Faun Fables
GUSLIAR
Pesniary (Pesnyary)
HAUL AR YR EIRA
Pererin
FRESH MAGGOTS
Fresh Maggots

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Latest Prog Folk Music Reviews


 The Garden Of Jane Delawney by TREES album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.79 | 56 ratings

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The Garden Of Jane Delawney
Trees Prog Folk

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Trees - The Garden of Jane Delawney (1970)

Britisch psychedelic folkrock group Trees released two records in 1970. The debut (currently being reviewed) and slightly more stately yet stiff 'On the Shore'. Both albums are hailed as favorites by listeners.

Trees has a sound that reminds us of Sandy Danny era Fairport Convention and early Steeleye Span; traditional and pure female vocals, folky guitar drones, some playfulness and beautiful ballads in the minor key. Yet Trees is slightly more progressive then beforementioned bands with some nice psychedelic electric guitar playing and a more dynamic approach to songwriting - which becomes appearant mainly on the first side of the record. Trees makes good use of two skilfull guitarplayers, which also adds to the progressive vibe. The title track is surely one of the most beautiful folksongs I've ever heard, the vocals of Celia Humphris are outstanding.

Conclusion. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite folk records and I can warmly recommend it to every-one with even the slightest interest in folkrock of progressive folk. This is what collecting little known music from the progressive period is about. Five stars.

 A Place for you to Run Away by ARBORISTS, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
4.00 | 1 ratings

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A Place for you to Run Away
The Arborists Prog Folk

Review by Aldebaran_Well

— First review of this album —
4 stars The Arborists found their way to the Archives when I was about to suggest them, so, yes, I am thrilled about it-and I believe they will be pleased too. I am happy to write a few words about the wonderful band The Arborists truly is.

I like folk music but I usually do not get overexcited about it. Still, this Montreal based group, is a different case. "A place for you to run away" is their debut ep and it was released in the summer of 2014, making it one of the year's very pleasant surprises. The band's heart and core in this release is Alex Bedard (cello, vocals), Alex Cherney (multi instrumentalist, vocals) and Antoine Martel (guitar, vocals) but several good musicians are gathered around them, making the whole project feel like an artistic collective - or, I'd rather say, like a bunch of highly talented, good friends. Now, what makes The Arborists stand out from the rest folk bands? First of all, excellent songwriting, which at the end of the day is the only thing that really matters. Their songs are composed and performed like folk veterans would do, not like some guys debuting. Furthermore, all band members are singers and their voices are truly amazing. Lastly, the use of instrumentation is challenging and a bit experimental, widening their music's horizons and making them sound quite different and fresher than most bands of their genre. Are they prog? Actually no, there is a strong sense of intellectuality in their music though, a subconscious, discrete flirt with other styles (classical, jazz, rock and cinematic elements are well put here and there) and their playing skills reveal well educated musicians that intend to perform far more things than the basics. It seems that The Arborists achieve a great artistic balance, musically and spiritually.

This ep consists of 6 tracks and it has a running time of 27 minutes - enough time for the band to unravel some of its virtues. The 2 minutes long intro is a slow, dramatic and, somehow, epic tune that can instantly catch your imagination. I would certainly put that in a movie, with shots of a colourful spring's dawn. ''The grove of the patriarch'' then steps in, setting the pace with a traditional folk beat. You will immediately feel seduced by the warm, organic sound and the richness of the arrangement but it's the singers who steal the show, with the deep, beautiful tones and colors of their voices. Next is '' The miller and the painted lady '', holding the first real surprises and I have to admit that this is my favorite track. The song is structured around a Radiohead-like guitar melody and it features a grieving vocal performance (with incredible harmonies), while the upright bass is stunningly adding color. Then, at the middle of the song, time signature changes, rhythm section becomes technical and jazzy and the clarinet appears with a fantastic jazz noir style solo. Now, you don't listen to solos with chromatic scales in ordinary folk bands, do you? Absolutely a gem of a song and I have to be honest: this is the musical direction I dream about the future of The Arborists. A jazz folk hybrid delivered in such sensitivity. ''Change'' is next, it begins with an atmospheric intro with harmonics and goes on in a powerful groove but before the song ends, there's a part with a (bit operatic) vocal line, an intense narration and a simple piano, as if it is straightly taken out of a soundtrack. Brilliant. ''Afterglow'' that follows is another bittersweet tune, led by female vocals (and a great choir bridge, unfortunately shortly lasting) but strongly supported by every percussion and string instrument involved. Final track is the 6 minutes long ''Front porch''. The tempo is very slow, almost hypnotizing but tension is progressively built until the final bursting, sounding energetic almost in a rock manner. For some unexplained reason, in the beginning it kind of reminded me of the acoustic side of Devin Townsend's ''Terria''. No sound relation, probably the same Americana influences - or perhaps the same Canadian air?

The artwork is beautiful and quite romantic - wonderful hand paintings that perfectly suit the colorful nature of the music. The band obviously pays a lot of attention to the lyrics too (hats off for that) and every song has a poetic character of its own. Music, words and art combined, deliver the musical and spiritual balance I mentioned before. And it's great to see young people solidly tracing on their traditional roots, while maintaining a modern, innovative view on things.

Conclusion: The Arborists debut ep is good beyond expectation. While it will be enjoyable for the Fleet Foxes fan, it can also offer delight to the progsters, especially those who search for trippy but down to earth music that is natural and poetic. For me, The Arborists have many things in common with artists like Eddie Vedder or Simon & Garfunkel - in a more artistic way of course. They awake feelings of intimacy, of friendship, of sadness and sweetness, all delivered through crystal music and angelic voices. I am now extremely curious whether a full length would carry the same success. I believe that there is space for even more style enrichment and I beg them to walk further into that path. They are talented, they are true and devoted, so I guess they will succeed in whatever they choose.

''A place for you to run away'' is free to download on Bandcamp so, you really should give it a try. You have nothing to lose and possibly a lot to gain. Personally, listening to it makes me feel like I' m meeting a good, old friend, drinking a glass of good wine, laughing and reminiscing.

82/100 4 pagan stars!

 Red Queen to Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.13 | 448 ratings

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Red Queen to Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Mista-Gordie

5 stars A true gem of symphonic progressive, maybe one of my top 10 favorites of the genre, it's a shame how much Gryphon have become a quite forgotten band, because to me they belong to a very small group of bands that constitute the very best of symph prog, along with Genesis, Yes, Anglagard, ELP, Camel, PFM, Banco, Le Orme, Harmonium and Renaissance (at least for that one album). They have been categorized here as Folk Prog, but in this case the term Symphonic is way more appropriate (which is a good example of why I think it would be much better to class every album by genre instead of whole discography of each artist.

There is truly not a single weak moment and while all four tracks are perfect in their own, I'd have to say "Opening move" is my personnal favorite, with its magnificient intro that immediatly sets the tone for the listener to know what to expect from this very unique journey. The whole thing has a very medieval feel to it, which works even better than in Gentle Giant IMO, though in a quite different way. The musicianship here is the best I've heard from any band, except maybe Yes, and the keyboard work from Richard Harvey especially is totally mind-blowing, while the ubiquitousness of the bassoon might be what makes this album so unique.

Totally a desert island pick for me, just as Close to the Edge, Selling England and Red.

10/10

 The Book of Kells  by IONA album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.78 | 63 ratings

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The Book of Kells
Iona Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak

5 stars is Celtic prog Folk (and Christian) artist IONA's breakout album though it is their second release. The distinguished crystalline voice of Joanne Hogg is on full display for all to hear, thanks to the fairly sparse instrument arrangements--especially in prolonged intros and outros. The other half of the band's core, Dave Bainbridge is also present on keys and guitars. This band seems to always be comprised of members who are all virtuosos on their respective instruments and this album is no exception. What changes in the future, however, is that bass/Chapman stick player Nick Beggs (KAJAGOOGOO), percussionist Teri Bryant and reeds player David Fitzgerald move out to make room for future mainstays Phil Barker (bass), Frank Van Essen (drums, percussion, & violins), and Ullilean pipe and whistle virtuoso and future star in his own right, Troy Donockley-- who happens to make his debut as a guest musician here. Though the synth washes are full and rich throughout and the percussion/rhythm team is at full power, The Book of Kells is a much more sparsely instrumented album than Iona's successive releases, but there are always plenty of gorgeous and glorious instrumental sections throughout all Iona albums. Also, as might be surmised from the album's title, which is is taken from the famous illustrated Christian texts of the New Testament that was created around 800 AD and then preserved in Ireland's Abbey of Kells, this is a concept album. What results from this mix of personnel is an album with such seamlessness, such depth and complexity of textures, as to astound even me who had already been a tried and true Iona fan for several years before going back into their early catalogue to discover this one. I didn't think that any Iona album could be better than Open Sky but the amazingly intense whole-goup focus on this concept album may have done it. What's more, this music and presentation is to my ears a prime example of all that is essential and at the core of prog: great story, great instrumental performances, great songwriting drawing from many traditions, great album art, all gelled into a powerful display of great human emotion. "Matthew - The Man" (11:53) (10/10) may be the best prog epic of the year but, heck! The whole album is like one continuous prog epic! Amazing! Beautiful! Another piece of man-made art that makes me proud to be human.
 Now You See Me by MOLD, COLIN album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.14 | 16 ratings

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Now You See Me
Colin Mold Prog Folk

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I purchased this album on the strength of my good friend Thomas' (Tszirmay) review, because, generally, we tend to enjoy the same music.

For what is so obviously an individual labour of love (Mold does it all on this work), so utterly home produced, the thing that strikes one upon hearing it is just how good the production and feel of the album is. The sound and vocals are utterly lush, as if, somehow, a David Hentschel, or similar luminary, had been sneaked into the home studio, twiddled the knobs, and left, with no credit to his name at all.

Mold has a plaintive, questing, and extremely pleasing voice. The emotion, see Will We Ever Return especially, an incredibly thoughtful song, is striking. His musicianship is of the highest order, and the backing vocals provided by Michelle Glover add very decent layers to the textures that the ears find so immensely pleasing.

There is a lot going on in this album, and the trick Mold pulls off is the very difficult one of making extremely accessible music in the context of progressive soundscapes. Not many pull it off, and it is done here with aplomb.

There is not one bum track, and my favourite amongst a really good bunch of tracks is Amelia (The Vagabond), a gorgeous paeon to the intrepid aviator who met her premature end somewhere over The Pacific Ocean. A thoughtful and lovely lyric, with some exceptional guitar work to take us soaring above the clouds whilst listening.

This is the kind of artist for whom this site was invented. A talented man, utterly honest in his endeavours, ploughing what must be, at times, a fairly lonely furrow bringing his music to a wider audience. The keyboard and guitar work, especially, deserve such an audience.

Well, this reviewer, for one, can wholly recommend a delicious slab of beautiful, pastoral, modern and commercial progressive folk rock.

Four stars. Quite excellent, so thank you Colin, Thomas, and, of course, Caerllysi Music from whom this was purchased - please support independent music outlets.

 Thick As A Brick by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.64 | 2404 ratings

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Thick As A Brick
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by The Dark Elf

5 stars 'Thick as a Brick' should rate highly simply on the strength of having one of the best album covers ever designed: a fold-out newspaper complete with articles, comics, ads, crossword puzzle and a rather bawdy connect-the-dots children's game! A CD jewel case does not do justice to the album design (which is the case for many of the albums from the 60's and 70's). Furthermore, one cannot underestimate the effect 'Thick as a Brick' had on folks growing up in the 70's. It was irreverent! It was rebellious! It mentioned both blackheads and peeing oneself in the night in one line! Only in the early 70's could this album (and Tull's follow-up 'A Passion Play') be released. It had no single! It was 44 minutes of continuous music! How can we market the goddamned thing? We won't get royalties from iTunes every time someone downloads a song! Hell, there is no song to download!

The epic poem around which the music is composed was purportedly supplied by a precociously Miltonic adolescent named Gerald Bostock (an alter ego of Ian Anderson), and the lyrics, concerning the trials and travails of growing up, are slyly superb throughout. And they are very sly: according to Ian Anderson, 'Thick as a Brick' was a send-up of some of the more bloated progressive rock of the time. It is a purposely pretentious mockery, holding a jaded mirror up to Tull's pompous rock counterparts (and the band itself). Even the album cover parodies the small minds of small town journalism (including the front page which trumpets the scandal and subsequent disqualification of Gerald Bostock's poem from a literary prize). As an added layer of satire, the newspaper contains many references to the album and the album refers back to the news (Tull members were avid fans of Monty Python). The entire package succeeds magnificently. Many reviewers don't get it and take it at face value, which is even more ironic. Or moronic as the case may be.

As far as the music, it runs the prog gamut from witty folk to scathing hard rock with some of the best acoustic guitar sequences you'll hear from Ian Anderson (know more, sadly, for the flute than his exceptional guitar work). Barriemore Barlow, John Bonham's favorite drummer, sets the pace and it is often blistering, running in cadence with John Evan's masterful keys and Martin Barre's explosive electric guitar. The album is fully realized in that the concept is brilliant both lyrically and musically, and there are so few rock bands that can match the wordsmithing ability of Ian Anderson and the compositional brilliance of Tull as a band in their prime.

Thick as a Brick is one of a handful of progressive rock albums upon which all others are measured, and for good reason: it is sublime in all facets.

 Stand Up by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.04 | 874 ratings

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Stand Up
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by The Dark Elf

5 stars Tull had just parted ways with guitarist Mick Abrahams after their first album "This Was' (Abrahams went on to make a really good blues album "Ahead Rings Out" with Blodwyn Pig, by the way), and had chosen Martin Barre as the their new lead guitarist. Tull took a u-turn off the blues highway and went off-road and did some camping on this stunning folk-rock opus. More so than the more standard rock follow-up album "Benefit", "Stand Up" is the true precursor to Tull's "High Prog" era. Everything is there, except, of course, 42 minutes of continuous music. But too much of one thing is not good (see "Passion Play" released on the heels of "Thick as a Brick"). This release is about as startling a change from a debut album to a second album as you will ever hear.

I have long been of the thought that no one in rock really writes beautiful, reflective tunes anymore. Ian Anderson can turn them out by the bucketful but still rock on the same album. 'Look Into the Sun', 'Reasons for Waiting' and 'For a Thousand Mothers' are just beautifully rendered, mellow pieces; conversely, 'Nothing is Easy' (a personal favorite), 'A New Day Yesterday' and 'We Used to Know' rock along quite well. Top it off with what Anderson refers to as cocktail jazz 'Bouree', and the frenetic 'Fat Man' (another favorite), and one finds the direction Tull took was an important step in becoming one of the greatest prog-rock bands of all time. Or folk-rock band. Or concept band. You get the general idea -- if you get Tull.

Beyond the act of turning out excellent compositions, 'Stand Up' is an important album in the synthesis of several different musical elements and genres into the rock idiom: jazz, blues, classical, folk. "A New Day Yesterday" is heavy blues on the level of Zeppelin and Cream, "Nothing Is Easy" is jazzier blues (retaining the rock with a thunderous coda to finish), "Fatman" has both Celtic and Indian strains running through it, "Bouree" is classical Bach with a jazz twist, and "Reasons for Waiting" is the first instance of collaborator David 'Dee' Palmer adding strings to a Tull tune (and lovely they are). Name any other rock bands that have the artistic grasp to successfully fuse these disparate genres all into one recording. Take your time. Get back to me when you can come up with a few.

In conclusion, I would highly suggest getting the 2010 Deluxe Edition remaster, which also includes the rousing orchestral "Sweet Dream", the only rock hit in 5/4 time "Living in the Past", and an excellent recording of the wild and wooly 1970 Carnegie Hall concert of which only a snippet appeared on the 1973 compilation album "Living in the Past".

 Live At The O2 by HORSLIPS album cover Live, 2010
4.00 | 4 ratings

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Live At The O2
Horslips Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars An excellent and welcome return to the stage from Celtic rock pioneers.

Absent from the big stage for 30 years, the rebirth and renewal of Horslips was recorded for all prosperity with this great sounding live reunion album. All of the key songs are featured excluding perhaps The Hall Of Mirrors. But that's a small complaint.

Anyone who has the excellent Roll back album released in 2005 know that the boy's chops are still intact but that their voices have changed a bit over time. Johnny Fean has a deeper delivery while the ever young Charles O'Conner sounds the same 30 years on. Barry Devlon's seems to have suffered the most and has a sand papery feel to his delivery.

Fean, who stayed active after Horslips split up, is the most improved player with a more blusey feel added to his blistering leads. Devlon, who had not picked up the bass in almost 30 years, acquitted himself well as did stand in drummer, Johnny's brother Ray (who replaced Eamon Carr for reasons unclear to me.)

The sound mix is incredibly detailed and clear. My only complaint is that it's a tad flat sounding, but you can't have everything.

The only thing that surprises me, given that there was about 10 minutes of unused audio space at the end of the second CD (don't worry, there's two full hours of music here) is that some, or even any, of the lively stage banter that this band is known for, was not presented in the recordings. These guys are expert at taking the piss out of each other and this was a celebration as much as a concert, after all. In a way, it makes this 2 CD recording feel more like a greatest hits compilation, as the only real extended song is Speed The Plow. Perhaps the DVD of the concert will preserve all. 4 stars.

 What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World by DECEMBERISTS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2015
2.53 | 8 ratings

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What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World
The Decemberists Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

2 stars The Derivativists.

It's no secret that The Decemberists have turned their back on their more pioneering earlier folk prog sound for that of an indie rock band with their last album The King is Dead.

So, we fast forward to this new 2015 offering from the band entitled What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. My deeper feelings that this indie band was only playing prog rock dress up all along, did little to soften the disappointment of this album.

To start off with, the first track The Singer Addresses His Audience is a musical confirmation that the band have changed and that their fans know about it and are disappointed. Regardless, "change they must" is stated in a vague sarcastic tome.

A great start it's not. Now where off to a faux sixties pop song replete with a cliched horn and string arrangement and corny lyrics that would have been apropos for a group like Spanky and Our Gang or the Cowsills. After the pop slop of Cavalry Caption where onto the third song Philomena. Philomena is a fifties pastiche of Frankie Avalon "pining songs" like his hit Diana, that comes complete with "oh-ah" girl group backing vocals. The gimmick in this song is that the narrator wants to do more with his Phelomena than just kiss her or hold her hand, and tells her so. How shocking this is in the 21st century?

After this tripe we're into some songs that fall into the indie folk rock vain that the band has purported to inform us about. Of these three, Lake Song, The Wrong Year and Till The Water's All Gone, describe relationships with missed communication and work well.

Unfortunately, the spell doesn't last long before we come across the first solo acoustic guitar song with a typical finger picked folk arrangement whose lyrics reveal a young boy that's come down from the mountain to sell his body for sex. Again, how shocking this must be for an eleven year old to hear. What annoys me most a bout this song is it's melody line that seems almost identical to Mark Knopfler's song Fare Thee Well Northumberland, from his excellent homage album to American roots music, The Rag Picker's Dream (2003).

Indeed, the following song Better Not Wake The Baby has a bit, a very tiny bit, of Knopfler's ironic lyrical style as the narrator sings that you can do what ever you want, including gouging out an eye, as long as you "don't wake the baby!"

Anti-Summersong, Easy Come, Easy Go and Mistral are more indie folk rock songs that jump from faux bluegrass to twangy country rock. All are forgettable.

The penultimate song sounds exactly like something Neil Young would compose if his lyrics were merely trite.This solo acoustic number, backed only with harmonica played after the verses, only makes you pine for the real thing.

The album closes with another forgettable indie rock song titled A Beginning Song. A Beginning of The End would have been more appropriate.

After I finished listing to this disappointing album, I pulled out the originals from my collection that included Roll Back by Horslips, The Mountain by Steve Earle with the Del McCoury Band, The Rag Picker's Dream by Mark Knopfler, and Unpugged by Neil Young.

Because, there ain't nothing like the real thing, baby!

 Evensong  by AMAZING BLONDEL album cover Studio Album, 1970
2.99 | 27 ratings

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Evensong
Amazing Blondel Prog Folk

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This album is AB's 2nd full album and is full of 100% Elizabethan-folk sounding music. The inclusion of lutes and reed instruments add to the authentic feel of the music. There is no progressive and there is no rock present in any of these tunes. They are simple acoustic tunes with that certain lilt that accompanies this style of music. Very nice to listen to, but the only challenging thing about them is whether you can sit through the entire half-hour set of songs. I enjoy them, but if you would have asked me 10 years ago, I would have found it difficult to sit through them all, so if you don't mind the naďve, yet bard-like sound of old renaissance, they are nice in a nostalgic kind of way.

A lot of people like to compare this music to Jethro Tull, and there are some similarities of course, because JT dabbled in this type of music a lot, but they also had a rock element added in even in their most hardcore Elizabethan-folk songs. JT also added the progressive element in most cases. However, you wouldn't be surprised to hear Ian Anderson singing "Spring Season" or "Willowood", which are the two songs that approach the JT acoustic sound. Also, the best song on here which is "Pavan" is the first one in line and starts things off quite well, but by the time I get towards the end, I have the feeling that a half-hour of this is enough.

An interesting thing to note here is that the lead singers Gladwin and Baird would have standard acoustic guitars made specific for the band to help substitute for reed instruments while in concert. One guitar was built to accent the treble and one for bass sounds. This mixture works quite well and they were very successful with it while playing live. You can also hear the distinct sound of both guitars in their music.

AB however, would continue on to their next album "Fantasia Lindum" with more progressive elements which would continue through the two albums also following that one. This makes the music a lot more enjoyable and adds a great variety to the music that keeps things interesting. Variety and complexity, though added in spare amounts, would improve the overall sound of the music. As far as this album, it is good, but non-essential. 3 stars.

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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
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
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CANO Canada
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MARCELLO CAPRA Italy
CARMEN United Kingdom
CARNASCIALIA Italy
CAROL OF HARVEST Germany
GIAN CASTELLO Italy
PHILIPPE CAUVIN France
CHAC MOOL Mexico
CHALIBAUDE France
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CHIMERA Netherlands
CHRYSALIDE France
CIRCULUS United Kingdom
CLOGS Multi-National
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CONTRALUZ Argentina
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DAVE COUSINS United Kingdom
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CURRENT 93 United Kingdom
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DANCER United Kingdom
DARNAKES Greece
DAWNWIND United Kingdom
DEAD CAN DANCE Australia
DECAMERON United Kingdom
THE DECEMBERISTS United States
DEMI-HEURE Canada
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DIEGO DE MORON Spain
DODSON AND FOGG United Kingdom
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DULCIMER United Kingdom
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DUNWICH Italy
JUDY DYBLE United Kingdom
EDEN Germany
ELANE Germany
ELFONIA Mexico
EMERAUDE France
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ENBOR Spain
ENGEL (MIGUEL ANGEL DE LA LLAVE JIMENEZ) Spain
L' ENGOULEVENT Canada
ROBERT ERDESZ Hungary
ERGO SUM Chile
ERROBI Spain
ESPERS United States
ETERNIDAD Argentina
LA FAMIGLIA DEGLI ORTEGA Italy
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FARPOINT United States
FAUN Germany
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FIABA Italy
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FLOR DE LOTO Peru
I FOLLI DI DIO Italy
FOLQUE Norway
FORENINGEN TIL LIVETS BESKYTTELSE Denmark
FOREST United Kingdom
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IBIO Spain
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POSITIVE WAVE Finland
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PTARMIGAN Canada
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QUICKSAND United Kingdom
QUINTAL DE CLOROFILA Brazil
QUINTETO ARMORIAL Brazil
RABBIT RABBIT (CARLA KIHLSTEDT & MATTHIAS BOSSI) United States
RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) Russia
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RAMASES United Kingdom
RASPUTINA United States
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REVERIE Italy
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RITMIA Italy
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RUJA Estonia
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SAD MINSTREL Italy
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THE SALLYANGIE United Kingdom
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SHANNON France
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SHINE DION Norway
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SPIROGYRA United Kingdom
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STACKRIDGE United Kingdom
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ALAN STIVELL France
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TEMPEST United States
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THOBY LOTH Finland
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TIR NA NOG Ireland
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U I BLUE United States
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UNGAVA Canada
UNITED BIBLE STUDIES Ireland
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VEGA Spain
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VOICE OF THE SEVEN WOODS United Kingdom
JUNE WALLACK Canada
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THE WAY WE LIVE United Kingdom
LEAH WAYBRIGHT United States
WERWOLF Germany
ROBIN WILLIAMSON United Kingdom
WITTHUSER AND WESTRUPP Germany
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ZEIT Italy
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