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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 | 2978 ratings
THICK AS A BRICK
Jethro Tull
4.34 | 2326 ratings
AQUALUNG
Jethro Tull
4.18 | 1262 ratings
SONGS FROM THE WOOD
Jethro Tull
4.27 | 178 ratings
ST. RADIGUNDS
Spirogyra
4.21 | 287 ratings
ALTURAS DE MACHU PICCHU
Jaivas, Los
4.42 | 70 ratings
ERWARTUNG
Eden
4.14 | 549 ratings
RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE
Gryphon
4.14 | 487 ratings
FIRST UTTERANCE
Comus
4.19 | 191 ratings
MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT
Jan Dukes De Grey
4.15 | 286 ratings
HERO AND HEROINE
Strawbs
4.15 | 293 ratings
GRAVE NEW WORLD
Strawbs
4.04 | 1104 ratings
STAND UP
Jethro Tull
4.08 | 266 ratings
THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
Decemberists, The
4.03 | 1032 ratings
HEAVY HORSES
Jethro Tull
4.20 | 87 ratings
I A MOON
North Sea Radio Orchestra
4.15 | 119 ratings
BELLS, BOOTS AND SHAMBLES
Spirogyra
4.43 | 38 ratings
LUCAS
Araujo, Marco Antonio
4.16 | 108 ratings
BASKET OF LIGHT
Pentangle, The
4.02 | 1306 ratings
A PASSION PLAY
Jethro Tull
4.02 | 1069 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

GENTLE SOUL
Gentle Soul, The
GEOFFROY
Emeraude
NYA LJUDBOLAGET
Nya Ljudbolaget
SÓLO FUE UN SUEÑO
Omni

Latest Prog Folk Music Reviews


 Itri by CORDE OBLIQUE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2015
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Itri
Corde Oblique Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars In between CORDE OBLIQUE's "Per la Strade Ripetute" and "I maestri del colore", the Riccardo Principe-led "ethereal folk" group made 3 new tracks available for download which effectively mark the subtle but significant transition.

The title track is the most vivacious, with Annalisa Madonna's voice fronting a compelling blend of acoustic guitar with violins and imaginative percussion by Alessio Sica. The arrangements become more wistful in the instrumental parts but are energized anew when Annalisa reappears. It is fully aligned with the newer direction of the group, while not likely to alienate long time fans.

"Momenti senza nome" is a throwback to the earlier and more dramatic period, and the one I prefer, with its haunting and suspenseful melody sung by Francesca Cacciatore, with succinct violin and voice in duet, the wistful strings later carrying the day. It could have easily appeared on "Volonta D'Arte", their 2007 near masterpiece.

The third track is just Principe on classical guitar, well played but focused on the technical sound more than the heartstrings. The transition, at least to this point, was completed on the ambitious but dry "I maestri del colore" the next year.

Due to its temporal and evolutionary position, "Itri" is recommended to fans of any of CORDE OBLIQUE's work, or to newbies wanting to cut their teeth on unplugged neo folk Italian style without sacrificing out a lot of cash or time.

 Hinsides by TUSMØRKE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.74 | 14 ratings

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Hinsides
Tusmørke Prog Folk

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars What's up with Tusmørke? While Wobbler makes us wait for years for a brand new release, Tusmørke rarely keeps us waiting for more than two years for a new release. This time around, about a year since the last release Ført Bak Liset. Hinsides is the first of two albums they released in 2017, the other the unusual children's album Bydyra released in November. Hinsides is probably their most complex and ambitious album they have done so far. The lineup is pretty much the same as before: Krizla, Benediktator, HlewagastiR, and The Phenomenon Marxo Solinas (Lars Fredrik Frøislie). It might not start that way, "Hjemsøkte Hjem" starts off rather lightweight and upbeat, in fact rather lightweight by Tusmørke standards, but still a great piece. "I Feel Like Midnight" is more heavy, but they unexpectedly break into Latin music, before returning back to their more typical sound. "En Rykende Ruin" is shows a more complex part of the band, but it unexpectedly ends up more lightweight. "Lysskydrøm" has a more lullaby feel to it, it has a familiar sounding melody like I've heard it somewhere else. At first I didn't care for it, but it started to grow on me. It was only because I wasn't used to this group doing such a lightweight piece as this. The piece suddenly breaks into a bit jazzy piece, closing it off with a krumhorn. But then they do something far more doomy and gloomy sounding with the 23 minute "Sankt Sebastians Alter". This is truly amazing and really weird piece, by far the most complex and ambition piece these guys have ever done. This really blew me away and worth the price of admission. With Hinsides I notice the band covering new ground but continuing to retain that wonderful prog/folk/psych feel. I took me a little to get use to the more lightweight parts of this album, but they deliver another goodie worth having!
 Raindance by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.26 | 173 ratings

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Raindance
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Gryphon becomes a (progressive) rock band.

This is the album where Gryphon morphs from playing progressive medieval music while using both medieval and modern instruments, to a rock band playing progressive rock that also includes medieval instruments. As other reviewers have noted, the album contains a mix of styles, and if nothing else, this presents issues of flow and continuity. Thus, while everything on 'Red Queen to Gryphon Three' was written in the same eclectic progressive-medieval style and flows exceptionally well from track to track (and from section to section within the tracks), on this album the transitions can feel jarring and certain tracks sound very out of place. Saying this, the underlying music is still quite good. The best track here (competing for the best track in their entire catalogue) is the 16-minute "(Ein Klein) Heldenleben". This is the track that provides the most continuity with 'Red Queen', with a very similar compositional style and sound. It is more structured around the rock instruments though (with prominent electric guitar solos, etc) than the medieval instruments, although the latter are still all present and sections of the piece definitely get back into the medieval sound. This is an awesome 5-star piece, and takes up more than a third of the album. The only other two tracks that have a medieval feel are "Le Cambrioleur est dans le Mouchoir" and "Wallbanger" but even these are more 'modern' than medieval, and both are brief. The rest of the tracks are a different story. Indeed, no one versed in the first three albums would probably even recognize the rest as Gryphon - they are very much of various rock genres. "Don't Say Go" is totally Canterbury-flavoured rock, and very catchy, much like Caravan, but I like it. "Down the Dog" and "Ormolu" have a Gentle Giant feel (not at all medieval), while "Fontinental Version" sounds (to me) a bit like the last track on the Quiet Sun album (thus also a bit of a Canterbury flavour, although less so than 'Dont Say Go'). The title track, "Raindance" should have been the last track on the album - it is basically just a mellow outro. Indeed, when I made up the tape of this album, I re-arranged the tunes, with (Ein Klein) Heldenleben first, and Raindance last. I think the album works better in that order. Actually, I would say that the order of the tracks on the original album is one reason why the transitions are jarring for the listener, and perhaps why this album gets some poor reviews. This is easily fixed with a bit of re-arranging. The only track I don't like here is the cover version of the Beatles' "Mother Nature's Son" - it feels too out of place, and there is no better order for me that includes it. Other than that, I think all the music here is good, and Heldenleden is really excellent and worth the price of the album alone. All together, this gets 8.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

 Red Queen To Gryphon Three by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.14 | 549 ratings

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Red Queen To Gryphon Three
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

5 stars Truly Unique and Innovative, and Musical.

This is Gryphon's masterpiece, the one that everyone should have in their collection. Indeed, this site almost needs a new category "progressive medieval" to classify it, or something, it is so unique. The basic medieval-influenced song structures are still there, as are the crumhorns etc, but now as the basis for a truly new sound. Taking a cue from their extended epic "Midnight Mushrumps" from the previous album, but clearly making a conscious decision to keep the pace up and the transitions between sections as seamless as possible, the band fashions four distinct roughly-10-minute tracks, each with an original and memorable main theme and various sub- themes. On this album, they add electric guitars and basses, and a full rock drummer, although the vast majority of the music is still written around acoustic guitar, piano, flutes and the horns. But the complexity is much higher, and the musicality is clear. The most medieval-sounding track is the second ("Second Spasm"), and for me this is the weaker one, although it is still very good with some excellent middle sections (on par with the best on Mushrumps). The first track ("Opening Move") has a very memorable melody, and the crumhorns here really add to the sonic feel. Really musical. The third and fourth tracks move around a lot, and have slower sections. I really like the middle section in the third track, with the droning organ and the slower horn lines ("Lament"). The fourth track ("Checkmate") contains probably the most progressive-rock-sounding music on the album, with prominent electric guitars, keyboards, drums and the like, and while it veers in and out of more medieval sounding themes, it is almost like math rock as it progresses through part of its middle section, but returning to the main theme for the ending. In terms of a rating, this album sits right on the 8.9/9.0 mark for me (on my 10-point scale). I will say 9.0 as there is really nothing like this album, and thus I would say it is essential. Thus, 5 PA stars.

 Midnight Mushrumps by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.69 | 199 ratings

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Midnight Mushrumps
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

3 stars An original and musical evolution.

Evolving from their debut medieval cover album, Gryphon here offer a new and original vision. While not yet as outstanding as their third album would be, this sees the band take the original impetus for reproducing medieval English music and use it to establish their own voice, stake out their territory. And they do it well. There is not a bad track on this album, and many of the tracks here are on the same, or better, level as the best track on their debt ("Juniper Suite"). The standout track on this album is the long epic title track "Midnight Mushrumps". While some find it slow and fragmented, and in fact this is true, it is nonetheless very musical. It takes its time to get where it needs to go, and sets out a number of very musical melodies, mixing piano, organ, acoustic guitars, and even some great dissonance. A very satisfying experience. I really like how more of the tracks (including a number of sections of the long epic) here move in an out of minor keys, which really sets it apart from their very major-key debut (were the middle ages really always so happy?). And of course, there are the fabulous crumhorns and other English horns. After the title track, my favourite here is "Gulland Rock", a really musical composition with some great slow dark, jazzy and moody sections, as well as dissonance, with lots of changes and sections (including a nice happy roiling medeival theme in one part). Both this song and the title track also have very nice piano parts, which adds much to the otherwise horns and organ sound. The rest of the pieces are all good too, although once again I would have liked the entire album to be instrumental (thus, "the Ploughboy's Dream" is for me the weakest track on this album). So, while I can listen to every song on this album, the quality is still mixed, with the two really excellent tracks balanced out somewhat by the others. I give this 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is much better than the debut, and translates to high 3 PA stars.

 Gryphon by GRYPHON album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.33 | 182 ratings

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Gryphon
Gryphon Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Like being in a Monty Python movie...

It is fascinating how different musicians eventually come around to produce excellent music. Some start in Jazz, others in heavy rock, etc. Gryphon began playing authentic English medieval music, using instruments that were around in the middle ages. The tracks here are virtually all cover tunes, mostly in major keys, and virtually all played with the same rhythm. Listening to this, you feel like you are in the movie 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', not only because this kind of music permeates that movie (if you can think back to the part where Sir Robin meets up with and then runs away from the Knights Who Say 'Nee', and the music the troubadour is playing alongside Robin "and Sir Robin ran away"... well, that is the kind of music this is). Secondly, because the band here plays all these tunes with a deadpan straight face, trying to adhere to the original versions as much as possible, it does come across as silly, although I also do admire the attempt. Perhaps this provides an important archival service, but it doesn't work very well as an album, unless you really need to bring along some music for that middle-ages-dress-up birthday party your kids were invited to. Gryphon would write excellent original music later on, but not here. There are both vocal and instrumental songs on this album. I myself much prefer the instrumentals, both because I think they are more musical (and because the lyrics are mostly light, silly and even sometimes off- putting), and because the instrumentals come closest to the sound that Gryphon would develop with their subsequent albums. There is really only one standout track on this album: "Juniper Suite". After this, decent tunes include "Tea Wrecks", "Touch and Go", "The Unquiet Grave", "Sir Gavin Grimbold" and "Estampie". This makes up about half of the album. After a number of listens, I can't really listen to the rest. Even the decent tunes are not strong enough to make one want to put this on - only Juniper Suite. On balance I give this 4.7, which translates to 2 PA stars. Nee!

 Bydyra by TUSMØRKE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.81 | 7 ratings

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Bydyra
Tusmørke Prog Folk

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I wasn't expecting Tusmørke to cough up two albums in one year, but they did, starting with Hinsides in May 2017, and now Bydyra in November. Here they switched labels from Svart to Karisma Records, same label that issued Wobbler's new release From Silence to Somewhere and upcoming releases from Jordsjø, Lars Fredrik Frøslie, credited as The Phenomenon Marxo Solinas provides some great use of Moog and Mellotron, so now children get treated with sounds of such instruments. The group now includes Håkon Oftung from Jordsjø, I guess I can't be too surprised as I get reminded of Tusmørke from time to time with Jordsjø¸ (as well as Wobbler and Änglagård). When I heard Bydyra was going to be a children's album I was suspicious. Here in America (where I live) children's music conjures up images of insipid music from Disney and Barney the Dinosaur. Tusmørke totally avoids that trap big time by creating an honest to god children's prog album! No reminders of Disney, Barney or Elmo here, but instead the lyrics seem to be about urban life, rising housing prices in already expensive Oslo (something that also concerns people in London and Paris, and here in the States with New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu, with smaller cities like Portland and Seattle heading that way), and apparently magic. The band included a children's chorus from some Oslo primary school. Despite the child-like approach, it's easy to see this is basically the same group that brought us Underjordisk Tusmørke exactly five years before, just you hear children singing along with the Tusmørke guys (Benediktator and Krizla share vocal duties). That's an ingenious way to introduce children to prog. The songs are all short, since I doubt children will be ready for Tales From Topographic Oceans at that age. But that totally makes since and they didn't sacrifice prog just because the songs are shorter. The folk elements are still present as before.

It's safe to say American children won't get much out of it since it's all sung in Norwegian, but for those who wonder if a children's prog album can succeed, I'm happy to say, it succeeds here. No Barney, Elmo or Disney stuff here. I've heard my share of American children's music which pretty much scarred me for life (I'm only glad I was born in 1972, Barney was way after my time). Doing a children's album is certainly a very risky gamble, and in this case it paid off well. Well worth listening to, even if you can't get much out of what they're singing due to language barrier. By far the best children's music album by a country mile!

 The Ferryman's Curse by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.75 | 8 ratings

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The Ferryman's Curse
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars The hourglass is emptying for veteran bands like STRAWBS and their small but ardent following. Each much anticipated release is coddled with the understanding that it may be their last, and a glance at the titles and lyrics of "The Ferryman's Curse" concedes nothing so much as a pious man contemplating his worldly past and his otherworldly future. It might not be the coda for Dave Cousins and company, but it is certainly compiled with an appreciation of that prospect.

A bit of background would be helpful. Strawbs enjoyed some level of commercial success in two forms in the 1970s: as an earnest prog folk band cum pop stars in the UK ("Grave New World" and "Bursting at the Seams"), and, with a 60% lineup change, as a symphonic prog band with folk underpinnings in the US ("Hero and Heroine" and "Ghosts"). The band never completely eschewed conventional song structures even at their most adventurous, but have been able to straddle the boundaries of their various genres. In recent years it's the members of the later incarnation that have been recording and touring, meaning Dave Lambert (guitars) and Chas Cronk (bass) are in the fold, augmented by Tony Fernandez (drums) who was with the group during the late 1970s and Dave Bainbridge (keyboards) of prog folk band IONA. Bainbridge has writing credits on 5 of the 10 tracks, including two instrumentals, and exerts considerable influence on his Strawbs studio debut, as does returning superstar producer Chris Tsangarides, who manages to equalize the highs and lows of Cousins' septuagenarian vocal chords. They remain an acquired taste in their CAT STEVENS meets PETER GABRIEL and FISH mode. I'm glad I acquired it years ago.

The first instrumental, "From the Beginning" offers a contemplative introduction to the album, with piano and orchestral strings eventually bolstered by drums and organ. As it segues directly into "The Nails from the Hands of Christ", we begin with just a hypnotic beat that recalls nothing more than the PET SHOP BOYS' hit from 1984, "West End Girls". The lyrics and vocals are classic Cousins though, and his sense of humor is intact, particularly when the gift shop manager tells the protagonist that the nails are "kosher", and when he comments that the nails were rusty and bent, "as if to make a point". Lead and rhythm guitar suffuse additional drama, as does mellotron choir in the theatrical buildup. Speaking of mellotron, I suspect they are using samples rather than an actual flesh and blood beast, but they are as welcome as the album.

In the tradition of sedate somewhat morose ballads of the past (Barcarole from "Burning for You", Sealed with a Traitor's Kiss" from "Deadlines", and "Copenhagen" from "Dancing to the Devil's Beat" all come to mind), "The Song of Infinite Sadness" downshifts for the duration. A bit too funereal for me, it does sound better with time, and, again, the lyrics are typically insightful. This wisdom is again evident on "The Familarity of Old Lovers", one of my 2 favourites. The delivery is a touch playful if resigned, and the lead guitar figure is succinct and addictive. The outtro involves both Lambert and Bainbridge interjecting each other on lead guitar, and is a winning idea.

Now to the heart center of the album, "When the Spirit Moves", in which Cousins dons his "Benedictus" voice for a rare occasion of unabashed spirituality, backed in choral style by his bandmates. Musically, it develops the ideas on "When Silent Shadows Fall" from the prior album into a triumphant statement that is compelling from the first to the last note, attaining a crescendo that is suited to a closing number, and indeed it would form the end of Side 1 on a vinyl copy.

Next up is Dave Lambert's sole songwriting and lead vocal contribution, the bluesy "The Ten Commandments", which was written some years ago but fits thematically with the religious directives on the disc. While a break from Cousins' voice is welcome, it's perhaps my least favorite track, and initiates the listener into the weakest part of the album. "The Reckoning" is a decent instrumental with haunting mellotron flutes and piano by Bainbridge as well as pleasant acoustic guitar, but as lead in to the epic title track, it fails to impart sufficient gravitas. However, as it turns out, it imparts more than the title track merits! "The Ferryman's Curse" is the sequel to "The Vision of the Lady of the Lake" which appeared on "Dragonfly" back in 1970, which was the sole prog-oriented piece on that early album, a multi verse epic with a lovely melody and occasional hard rock accompaniment. Lyrically, this update resolves some questions that lingered for 47 years, and spins a fascinating tale in which the same number of years has ostensibly elapsed since the first misadventure. As poetry this is brilliant, particularly some of the Greek mythological references and how, in typical Strawbs fashion, the story itself seems to unfold outside of any specific historical setting. Unfortunately the whole 9 minutes is delivered as a dirge. Admittedly, the original piece was a challenge even for a young Cousins' pipes, so perhaps a decision was made to compose the piece for a narrower vocal range where he could still emote away but all studio mirrors and singer would be safe! Within all these constructs, the one hard rock moment on the album is the blistering instrumental break towards the climax, which isn't my cuppa but which might ignite some new fans if they only get that far...

The final two tracks adopt a far more optimistic and vivacious tone. While such tendencies have never been Strawbs' strong suit, both are handled better than in the past, and achieve respectable equilibrium as pop folk music, particularly "Bats and Swallows", an account of a Mediterranean vacation and the human and animal sights and sounds perceived by Cousins. The highlight instrumentally is the geographically appropriate bouzouki solo by Bainbridge, The main musical theme of "We Have the Power" is delivered on synthesizer, and the song structure, and perhaps even the lyrics, are like a much sunnier take on "Call to Action" which appeared on "The Broken Hearted Bride". The ending seems a bit off kilter though, leaving me wondering if it was intentional or not, since so much TLC clearly went into the making of this release. Unless they ran out of studio time?

When I began writing mental notes towards this review, I had intended to award a solid 3 stars, but it really breaks out at 3.5 stars, and not rounding up in this case is tantamount to elder abuse, both of the band and its longstanding fans who are still standing. Let's not pay the ferryman just yet.

 The Ferryman's Curse by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.75 | 8 ratings

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The Ferryman's Curse
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by The Jester

3 stars Starting this, I should say that I consider myself as a fan of Strawbs. Maybe not the greatest fan, but if you consider that I am listening to them for more than 25 years now, and I have in my music collection about 13-14 of their albums, I think I have a rather detailed opinion about them. Truth is that, their career has gone downhill for many years now, but they do release a good album every now and then; but to be honest, I don't know if The Ferryman's Curse is one of those albums. I know very well how good and important band Strawbs was, and I will not form an opinion based on their 23rd studio album. But, that doesn't change the fact that 'Ferryman's' is a very mediocre album. Yes, it includes some fine moments, like When the Spirit Moves for example, but most of the songs would never fit into the band's older albums; and that definitely tells us something about the overall quality, correct? Not to mention Dave Cousins vocals, which are not so good I'm affraid. The Ferryman's Tale is one more piece in a line of not so good ' but not bad - albums, like Prognostic, or Hero & Heroine in Ascencia, among others. For all those things, I don't think I can give more than 2.5 - 3.0 stars (out of 5.0) Favorite songs: When the Spirits Move, We have the Power and The Ferryman's Curse
 The Storm by MOVING HEARTS album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.98 | 4 ratings

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The Storm
Moving Hearts Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars MOVING HEARTS was set up as a cooperative when initially formed, with all members sharing in both the expenses and revenues. As with many such aggregations, changes were the rule, and there is no evidence to suggest that any of those shifts in personnel and style represented anything other than natural if chaotic evolution. Thus when they turned from politically savvy Irish folk rock with prog influences to jazz-inflected traditional (or traditional styled) instrumentals, it seemed nobody batted an eye. The incarnation only lasted for one studio album, "The Storm", but the shock waves continue to reverberate, and it is this incarnation, of course loosely speaking, that reforms occasionally to the present.

Composed of only 3 multi part tracks, "The Storm" is basically a long medley of jigs and reels that start off like cookie cutter performances before subtle and less subtle rhythms and shifts of pace are interjected. The key lead instruments are Davy Spillane and Declan Masterson's uillean pipes and Keith Donald's saxes, but the drums, bodhran and bass and the manner in which they deftly interpose jazzy accents are also critical. Master instrumentalist Donal Lunny craftily integrates synthesizers that augment this freshness without descending into a 1980s keyboard morass.

My personal favourite here is "The Titanic", particularly the second segment, "A Breton in Paris", with an accelerating urgency that culminates in a manic dance of sax dragging keyboards into the drink by their high heels. Brilliant, and sadly not imitated enough. Additionally, "Tribute To Peadar O'Donnell" is the piping hot summit.

While I do enjoy "The Storm", I ultimately fall more on the side of the first incarnations of this band, which were albeit less progressive but compensated with their hard rock take on the genre and their political acumen. "The Storm" is dressed up well for a nightclub, but underneath remains those very jigs and reels that are repeated several times too often for those who could do without them entirely. 3.5 stars rounded down because I'm not sure the average prog fan would consider this a perfect storm.

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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
BIG LOST RAINBOW United States
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
DETEKTIVBYRÅN 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
ELECTRIC DESERT Israel
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
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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
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FRAGUA Spain
FRED United States
FRESH MAGGOTS United Kingdom
FUCHSIA United Kingdom
FUREKÅBEN Denmark
GAIA CONSORT United States
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GALLERY United Kingdom
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GARMARNA Sweden
GAROLOU Canada
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GORGO Ukraine
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LARKIN GRIMM United States
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GROWING DREAM Canada
GRYPHON United Kingdom
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GWERZ France
HAIZEA Spain
ROY HARPER United Kingdom
HAWK South Africa
HAZARI Yugoslavia
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HEXVESSEL Finland
HOELDERLIN Germany
HORIZONTE Argentina
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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
JESTER United Kingdom
THE JESTERDAYS Greece
JETHRO TULL United Kingdom
NIGEL MAZLYN JONES United Kingdom
JOX France
JUSTINE Multi-National
KAAMOS Finland
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CHRIS KARRER Germany
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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
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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
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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
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PERERIN United Kingdom
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PHOENIX Romania
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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
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TIR NA NOG Ireland
TIRILL Norway
TORNAOD France
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TREES United Kingdom
THE TREES COMMUNITY United States
TREMBLING BELLS United Kingdom
TRI YANN France
TRIO DAG Yugoslavia
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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
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

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