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PROG FOLK

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Prog Folk definition

In the wake of the 1960s, 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 "Chansonniers" 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 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, TREES, SPIROGYRA, FOREST, the superb JAN DUKES DE GREY but also TRADER HORNE, TUDOR LODGE, FOTHERINGAY, MAGNA CARTA, and TIR NA NOG 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 1977's Songs From The Woods and 1978'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, WITTHUSER & 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 CONGRESO (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 Chansonniers 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 CATHERINE RIBEIRO AND ALPES, 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
with hyperlinks and updates by Ken Levine December 2017

Current Team as of December 2017

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 | 3029 ratings
THICK AS A BRICK
Jethro Tull
4.34 | 2377 ratings
AQUALUNG
Jethro Tull
4.18 | 1293 ratings
SONGS FROM THE WOOD
Jethro Tull
4.26 | 184 ratings
ST. RADIGUNDS
Spirogyra
4.40 | 75 ratings
ERWARTUNG
Eden
4.21 | 294 ratings
ALTURAS DE MACHU PICCHU
Jaivas, Los
4.21 | 195 ratings
MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT
Jan Dukes De Grey
4.14 | 560 ratings
RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE
Gryphon
4.14 | 498 ratings
FIRST UTTERANCE
Comus
4.16 | 302 ratings
HERO AND HEROINE
Strawbs
4.15 | 305 ratings
GRAVE NEW WORLD
Strawbs
4.43 | 40 ratings
LUCAS
Araújo, Marco Antônio
4.05 | 1128 ratings
STAND UP
Jethro Tull
4.20 | 88 ratings
I A MOON
North Sea Radio Orchestra
4.08 | 271 ratings
THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
Decemberists, The
4.03 | 1059 ratings
HEAVY HORSES
Jethro Tull
4.14 | 122 ratings
BELLS, BOOTS AND SHAMBLES
Spirogyra
4.16 | 110 ratings
BASKET OF LIGHT
Pentangle, The
4.03 | 1097 ratings
MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY
Jethro Tull
4.02 | 1333 ratings
A PASSION PLAY
Jethro Tull
4.46 | 33 ratings
AVE SANGRIA
Ave Sangria
4.13 | 113 ratings
EZEKIEL
Itoiz
4.09 | 147 ratings
HÖLDERLINS TRAUM
Hoelderlin
4.06 | 156 ratings
WITHIN THE REALM OF A DYING SUN
Dead Can Dance
4.39 | 33 ratings
Y MURIÓ LA TARDE
Nirgal Vallis
4.02 | 223 ratings
FROM THE WITCHWOOD
Strawbs
4.16 | 66 ratings
THE TÁIN
Horslips
4.35 | 33 ratings
UM HIMINJǫĐUR
Tirill
4.55 | 22 ratings
SECOS & MOLHADOS
Secos & Molhados
4.03 | 166 ratings
GHOSTS
Strawbs
4.02 | 171 ratings
STORMCOCK
Harper, Roy
4.08 | 93 ratings
OBRAS DE VIOLETA PARRA
Jaivas, Los
4.08 | 87 ratings
OPEN SKY
Iona
4.11 | 72 ratings
THE COURAGE OF OTHERS
Midlake
4.37 | 29 ratings
HOJE HÁ CONQUILHAS, AMANHĂ NĂO SABEMOS
Banda Do Casaco
4.04 | 108 ratings
RAGNARÖK
Ragnarök
3.97 | 206 ratings
THE LAST BRIGHT LIGHT
Mostly Autumn
3.98 | 149 ratings
THE CRANE WIFE
Decemberists, The
4.30 | 29 ratings
THE GREAT DIVIDE
Unruh, Steve
4.33 | 27 ratings
TALKING WITH STRANGERS
Dyble, Judy
4.58 | 17 ratings
THUNDER PERFECT MIND
Current 93
3.91 | 957 ratings
BENEFIT
Jethro Tull
4.85 | 12 ratings
SECOS & MOLHADOS (II)
Secos & Molhados
4.04 | 73 ratings
STARSAILOR
Buckley, Tim
4.03 | 76 ratings
HOELDERLIN
Hoelderlin
4.01 | 81 ratings
ALL MY FRIENDS
Jack O' The Clock
3.97 | 115 ratings
CANTAFABULE
Phoenix
4.11 | 45 ratings
DURANTE O VERĂO
Barca Do Sol, A
4.44 | 19 ratings
VÄTTARNAS FEST
Grovjobb
4.21 | 31 ratings
THE USE OF ASHES
Pearls Before Swine
4.29 | 25 ratings
SYMPHONY FOR THE OLD WORLD
Flairck
4.75 | 12 ratings
DÚLAMÁN
Clannad
4.33 | 23 ratings
BLUE CAMEL
Abou-Khalil, Rabih
4.00 | 71 ratings
CAROL OF HARVEST
Carol Of Harvest
4.00 | 69 ratings
THE BOOK OF INVASIONS - A CELTIC SYMPHONY
Horslips
4.18 | 31 ratings
CARNASCIALIA
Carnascialia
4.01 | 64 ratings
REPETITIONS OF THE OLD CITY-1
Jack O' The Clock
4.04 | 53 ratings
SOLID AIR
Martyn, John
4.22 | 27 ratings
GUSLIAR
Pesniary (Pesnyary)
4.14 | 34 ratings
GEOFFROY
Emeraude
4.15 | 32 ratings
CHEMINS DE TERRE
Stivell, Alan
3.96 | 78 ratings
KEBNEKAISE II
Kebnekajse
4.73 | 11 ratings
CHRISTIAN LUCIFER
Leopold, Perry
4.22 | 26 ratings
ŢURSABIT
Thursaflokkurinn
3.92 | 117 ratings
INTO THE LABYRINTH
Dead Can Dance
4.23 | 24 ratings
NULA JEDAN
Thork
3.97 | 70 ratings
CEI CE NE-AU DAT NUME
Phoenix
4.07 | 38 ratings
AZAHAR
Azahar
4.86 | 9 ratings
RODJENJE
Mlinarec, Drago
4.76 | 10 ratings
EDEN
Faun
4.01 | 49 ratings
LUNA
Faun
4.15 | 28 ratings
NIGHT LOOPS
Jack O' The Clock
4.26 | 21 ratings
MIRADAS
Canzoniere Del Lazio
4.42 | 15 ratings
SOFT BLACK STARS
Current 93
3.98 | 52 ratings
CHALLENGING GRAVITY
Unruh, Steve
4.26 | 20 ratings
ALL THE PRETTY LITTLE HORSES
Current 93
4.09 | 32 ratings
S VREMENA NA VREME
S Vremena Na Vreme
4.00 | 46 ratings
TUDOR LODGE
Tudor Lodge
4.16 | 25 ratings
THROUGH THE GATES OF DEEPER SLUMBER
Smell Of Incense
4.24 | 20 ratings
L'HOMME-LOUP
Motis
4.06 | 34 ratings
THE TRIALS OF VAN OCCUPANTHER
Midlake
4.08 | 31 ratings
MAAÄET
Tenhi
4.46 | 13 ratings
MACALLA
Clannad
3.87 | 115 ratings
OUT OF THE COMA
Comus
4.25 | 19 ratings
II - DEJANJE
Sedmina
4.09 | 29 ratings
TURN OF THE WHEEL
Tempest
3.88 | 101 ratings
FANDANGOS IN SPACE
Carmen
4.01 | 38 ratings
A BARCA DO SOL
Barca Do Sol, A
3.83 | 178 ratings
DRESSED IN VOICES
Mostly Autumn
4.48 | 12 ratings
RAFT
Jones, Nigel Mazlyn
4.31 | 16 ratings
BANLIEUES
Troisičme Rive
4.15 | 23 ratings
EULENSPIEGEL
Ougenweide
4.81 | 8 ratings
RENAISSANCE
Faun
3.84 | 131 ratings
THE SERPENT'S EGG
Dead Can Dance
4.29 | 16 ratings
A HAIL OF BITTER ALMONDS
Corde Oblique
3.99 | 38 ratings
HONTZ GAUA
Haizea
3.83 | 141 ratings
THE SPIRIT OF AUTUMN PAST
Mostly Autumn
4.26 | 16 ratings
DANSES ET RYTHMES DE LA TURQUIE [AKA: ANADOLU POP]
MoĞollar
3.99 | 36 ratings
BLESS THE WEATHER
Martyn, John
4.26 | 16 ratings
UNTAMED
Ill Wicker

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
SÓLO FUE UN SUEŃO
Omni
GENTLE SOUL
Gentle Soul, The
ODGIPIG
Sindelfingen

Latest Prog Folk Music Reviews


 En el Principio by SUR PACIFICO album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.68 | 6 ratings

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En el Principio
Sur Pacifico Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Music is often most appropriately judged not by its own shifts but by its ability to move the listener, and this is especially the case for the all instrumental, largely acoustic "En el Principo" by Chilean band "Sur Pacifico". Signed by the twin acoustic guitars of Marcos Ribas and Ismael Cortez and Paulette Joui on violoncello, with subtle shadings on electric guitar, banjo and flute, their lone album draws comparisons to CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO and a few of the more skilled "new acoustic" artists that plied their trade in the 1980s, such as ALEX DE GRASSI. The Latin character almost imperceptibly colours the canvas here and there, which the band may have done well to accentuate further, and not every track picks the listener up at the station. But when this succeeds it's sublime, such as on the spirited and sumptuous title cut, the angular and even angry "Conexion Espiritu", the vivacious "Jungla en el cielo", and the stately "Surfing". While I didn't really want to mention JADE WARRIOR, the distorted elegance and economy in the ambiance on tracks like "Surfing", with its greater emphasis on electric guitar, do recall that nigh forgotten duo. While this might not make the desert island disk list for most of us, you could do worse than have it at hand for your next actual or virtual trip to the South Pacific.
 Magical Ring by CLANNAD album cover Studio Album, 1983
4.45 | 11 ratings

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Magical Ring
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Clannad had a strange breakthrough when they were called on to provide a bespoke theme tune to Harry's Game. This was a miniseries on British television about the Troubles in Northern Ireland - a worthy and thoughtful enough bit of television, but to be honest it's the Clannad song everyone remembers about it, with its mournful passages sung over the closing titles adding a suitably sombre note to proceedings.

Indeed, the song's had something of an extensive life of its own after that - having appeared in other movies and adverts and been covered regularly enough to become something of a standard, and even spearheading the band's burst of popularity in the USA after a rerelease in 1992 ahead of the US issue of the Anam album.

But it's perhaps best appreciated here, at the start of Magical Ring, since it heralds the overall approach taken by the band following the departure of Enya and longtime producer Nicky Ryan - a delicious mixture of even more prominent New Age synthesiser work with Irish folk instrumentation and rhythms, creating an intoxicating, timeless mixture. The overall style had a brief run of popularity - Clannad were called on to do more television work for Robin of Sherwood which became the Legend album, for instance, and there'd even be a few imitators popping up here and there (such as Chameleon, TV music specialists who produced soundtrack material for the likes of The One Game and Summer's Lease), but I don't think it was ever captured better than it was here.

 Viaje por la Cresta del Mundo by CONGRESO album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.40 | 21 ratings

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Viaje por la Cresta del Mundo
Congreso Prog Folk

Review by dragonspirit

4 stars Of the several Congreso albums that I've heard, this is among my very favorites. I love the jazz fusion of the 1981-1984 era. This is the first album from this era. Most of the songs give the listener the feel of being in the Andes or at least of being in a remote mountainous/plateau region. The music is very spacious and often has an ancient feel to it, while also being energetic and (mostly) gentle. Of all the tracks, the only somewhat weak ones are Hijo Del Diluvio and (in some sections only) La Tierra Hueca. The rest of the album is very good to outstanding. I recommend this album to any fan of high quality, serious music.
 Saga De Ragnar Lodbrock by SAGA DE RAGNAR LODBROCK album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.20 | 20 ratings

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Saga De Ragnar Lodbrock
Saga De Ragnar Lodbrock Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars I guess the peculiar location of Normandy has guaranteed its place in "war lore". As far back as the 8th century the Vikings led by Ragnar Lodbrok swept (i would presume down) into this area and Ragnar reigned as king for a time. This French rock opera was concocted to relay the tale, probably better suited for a film or full multimedia production. Conceived by Daniel Proust and Patrick Alliard, with the assistance of a veritable Viking army of musicians and vocalists, this is not your standard prog folk fare, but more the province of the French drama queens of the ANGE school. As such, while occasional well composed themes do appear in the early going as well as the thematically unrelated bonus tracks, the main event collapses under the angst of melodramatic narrative for several interminable passages, particularly on the 18 minute piece de resistance, which for me was more of a piece de abandon. Surely if it had been composed 1200 years earlier and played for Mr Lodbrok he would have retreated post haste and been spared death in a viper pit at the hands of the King of Northumbria. I added a half star for the bonus numbers, which are more ALAN STIVELL, MALICORNE and TRI YANN oriented, and rather enjoyable.
 Ladhivan - Tales Of Celtic Myths by GALAHAD album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Ladhivan - Tales Of Celtic Myths
Galahad Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars After the three year hiatus that followed "Storyteller's Dance", German Celtic Rockers GALAHAD return with a new female lead singer Tina Schreiber, who replaced the outgoing Ulli Koberg. Paul Alexander remains principal writer, flute, mandolin and acoustic guitar player, but, while previously in too prominent a role as vocalist, here he sings lead on but one track, the rousing "Connemara Girl" in the best traditions of UK counterparts such as OYSTERBAND and even 1980s alt rock band JAMES from UK in its unplugged moments.

The arrangements here are more progressive than ever, even if the songs themselves rarely eschew the folk idiom. For the first time, GALAHAD approach the spirit of acts like Ireland's THE MORRIGAN, with more emphasis on spacey keyboard textures, reaching a crescendo on the imposing "This Day is not Today" enhanced by the heaviest guitars on the disk, which somewhat compensate for the dearth of lead guitar overall. Other superlative offerings in this vein include the mystical opener, "Sparrow in the Midwinter Hall" and the frenetic "Fox at the Airport", both terse yet poignantly lyrical and infused with urgency. Several themes repeat, such as the main melodies in "Under the Evenstar" and "The Very First Time Part 1", both slow paced and deliberate. The latter is slightly better and is not the only instance where I am reminded of former Quebecois group OREALIS. "Peaceful Slumber" begins almost identically to "Connemara Girl" but is ultimately distinct enough in its own right, trading male for female vocals and whistles for flutes. The title cut is another mysterious, even Gothic piece that is reprised instrumentally at the end. I hear some echoes of CLANNAD in the prioritizing of atmosphere, but the music here is more vivacious.

While an accomplished production, "Ladhiven" could have been improved by replacing of few of the less interesting cuts, such as "Warm Touch", "Mediis Tenebris" and "Step Beside" with a single longer track to vary the pacing and more firmly impose progressive credentials. Still, while not the best of GALAHAD's prolific output, it's a reasonable entry point to their discography for the prog oriented.

 Lay Down/Backside by STRAWBS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Lay Down/Backside
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars While "Grave New World" was STRAWBS' biggest selling album in the UK by far, it failed to yield a hit single and it didn't quite reach the top 10. "Bursting at the Seams", recorded with rock guitarist Dave Lambert replacing a disillusioned Tony Hooper, rectified both of these problems and gave wide albeit fleeting recognition to Strawbs in their home country while building on their budding reputation in North America. The first single, "Lay Down", actually saw release in late 1972, before the album, and is a surprisingly upbeat hard rock number that nonetheless retains the characteristics of the group sound - strong melodies, hymn like aura and lyrics, and a soaking of mellotron choir. Cousins' goal here was to sound like the SMALL FACES and their gift of delivering the message that they were having fun when they performed. It seemed to resonate with the public who drove it to #12 on the UK charts and primed the pump for the even bigger albeit very different "Part of the Union" early in 1973. While many Strawbs fans decry "Part of the Union" as sell out, most agree that "Lay Down" was a fine song that made only enough concessions to achieve deserved success. Nonetheless, apart from the similar "Stormy Down" on the same album, it's an approach that the band never capitalized on again.

The B side was a very proggy and ribald send up of the David Bowie "Ziggy Stardust" persona, and is even more a showcase of Dave Lambert's passionate lead guitar than the A-side. The extended instrumental coda showcases the band's new-found confidence. The fact that this song did not make the album cut is testament to the free flowing creativity of the group at that time.

Unless you are a vinyl collector, both of these tracks can be found on the CD reissues of "Bursting at the Seams", with "Backside" as a bonus. Still, these are two excellent tracks that document the Strawbs' fleeting chapter as one of the top bands in their homeland.

 Part of the Union/Will you go by STRAWBS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1973
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Part of the Union/Will you go
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars The curse of "Part of the Union" was that it was on a Strawbs album, and didn't mesh well with the earnest folk rock from which they were slowly detaching, nor did it sit with its hands neatly folded in its lap next to the prog epics they were beginning to explore. A Hudson-Ford penned and sung tune that was about to be released as a single under the name "The Brothers", "Part of the Union" was ultimately selected for the "Bursting at the Seams" album by band leader Dave Cousins. He reasoned that it would become a huge hit and fragment the band if released under separate cover. Ironically, the band imploded anyway, and when the dust settled the reformed Strawbs were a full blown prog rock group with reasonable success in North America and Hudson- Ford were pop hit makers in the UK.

This is actually a catchy pop tune that flies in the face of the prevailing styles of its day. An oom pah pah beat, no electric guitar, a sing along chorus, and enough irony to leave its intent ambiguous, were all qualities lacking in most pop music at the time. Its adaptation of an old WOODY GUTHRIE tune "Union Maid" was a further departure for the charts. The barrel house piano by Blue Weaver and the simple trick of each chorus being introduced with an additional bar all augment the production by Tom Allom. In retrospect, the band should have somehow held it together after its march to #2 in the UK charts along with the album, as their mix of the familiar and the stately, along with 4 vocalists, had little competition. While they claim they were short of material for the album, the B side "Will You Go" is a rough cut gem that didn't even get onto the LP release, an "almost" traditional Scottish song often called "Wild Mountain Thyme", featuring more vocal harmonies, accordion, and an arrangement similar to a more laid back "Lay Down".

At this point, the only reason to procure this single is if you are a vinyl only collector, as both tracks are on the CD reissues, the B side as a bonus. It's a fascinating historical document of the ephemeral nature of pop success. For every 1 QUEEN or ROD STEWART there were dozens if not hundreds of STRAWBS who could not comprehend or sustain the magic they fleetingly held in their hands.

 Storyteller's Dance  by GALAHAD album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.39 | 3 ratings

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Storyteller's Dance
Galahad Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars On the surface, this 5th album by German Celtic Rockers GALAHAD lacks the allure of the couple that preceded it. For starters, for some reason Paul Alexander Jost handles the bulk of the vocal duties for the first time, at the expense of Ulli Koberg. Now, Jost has a distinctive enough voice that works well for some material, but his idiosyncratic fusion of LEONARD COHEN and MARK KNOPFLER with its quasi conversational style is perhaps best suited for at most half the songs rather than two thirds. Given that this was Ulli's last disk with GALAHAD, one might infer that she left while it was being recorded, which might also explain the slightly higher quotient of stuffing as well, with songs like "Seasons of Salmon", "Liberty or Just for you", and "Nightingale Flight" appearing to have fallen off the wheelbarrow before they were properly potted. Finally, other than the vague references to dancing here and there and to the possible ulterior meanings of the word that I won't go into, this lacks a concept of note or the mystique of the medieval tale so prevalent in prior works by this band.

Yet for all that, this is mostly a fine collection of occasionally hard edged folk rock with a progressive soul, a bounty of flutes, electric guitar and even a few sensible keyboard and orchestral arrangements. I am especially heartened by their restraint, as they rarely grandstand for the sake of it. Arrangements may at times be intricate but GALAHAD knows when to pull rank and bring us back to the song. Most of the highlights occur early on, with the best being the proggy and varied paced "Guilty"; the brilliant instrumental "Virtual Dance" with its dramatic harpsichord like flourishes and aggressive lead guitar solo; the Ulli-led "Be on the Right" with a smidgen of the oom pah pah in its sophisticated grooves; "Well Haired Golden Maiden" with its sublime melody again carried by Ulli, the choruses bolstering the tension building from the verses. I will add one more - the nervous "Fred Friendly" with its tale of a fellow who can't turn down a request for help from his friends who are of course convinced that their need is a gift to the poor fella. It reminds me of the more lighthearted numbers by KERRS PINK.

"Storyteller's Dance" suffers a bit in consistency and inspiration in comparison to the likes of "Myrddin" and "The Return of the Piper", but it is still recommended to those here with a penchant for Celtic Rock.

 Thirty Little Turns by TEMPEST album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.50 | 2 ratings

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Thirty Little Turns
Tempest Prog Folk

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars When I discovered that this album had been released I was somewhat surprised, as it was so long since I had last heard from the band that I actually thought that they had stopped. The last album I reviewed of theirs was back in 1996, but here in 2018 they have released their latest album, titled to celebrate thirty years in the business, an incredible achievement for any band. Musically they have taken three British bands as references, and tend to move between Horslips, Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull, sometimes bringing them all together. Now, I have been known to listen to the odd bit of folk rock here and there, and indeed last year travelled from one side of the world to the other just to see Fairport Convention (okay, I also really wanted to see Show of Hands and particularly Richard Thompson, but you get the drift). According to Google that is a one-way trek of 11,750 miles (and I did come back to NZ, honest, straight after the gigs), so it is a form of music I really enjoy.

I prefer folk rock to straight folk, although I do enjoy it as well, as it has so many dynamics and power which is taken to a whole new level with the use of electric guitar. Somewhat strangely there is a cover on here, namely "Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown)", but somewhat unsurprisingly it does fit incredibly well with layers of mandolins and fine violin, which then takes the lead on a great jig in the middle. Band leader Leif Sorbye continues to show exactly what can be developed when one has a great love and understanding of the genre. Perhaps the most poignant number is the last, an instrumental medley simply titled "Swarb". It is probably safe to say that David Cyril Eric Swarbrick (5 April 1941 ? 3 June 2016) is the most influential fiddler in the last fifty plus years in the folk movement. Although I have seen Fairport in concert more times that I can remember, I only saw him play with the band once, sat in a wheelchair connected to oxygen, but still letting his fingers fly. The tribute here from Tempest is the closest I have heard to any band capturing the violin/mandolin interplay made famous by Swarb (all credit to Kathryn Buys for an amazing performance), apart from when Chris Leslie and Ric Sanders take flight in the current incarnation of Fairport.

I was playing this in the car, and when the song finished and the next album started I audibly groaned because it was over and I was enjoying listening to it so much. I must say that sort of reaction is incredibly rare for me, especially given the number of albums I play each week for review purposes, so it shows just how much I was invested in the music. This is a wonderful album, and let's just hope that the guys keep going as long as Fairport, currently touring in their 51st year. I love it, and I can see why Robert Berry is so involved.

 The Serpent's Kiss by SERPENTYNE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.51 | 3 ratings

BUY
The Serpent's Kiss
Serpentyne Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars One thing is clear about this UK "world prog" band - they don't get into a rut! On their third album they continue to explore middle eastern motifs but shift some of the context to Nordic pomp metal. This infuses higher drama and urgency into their craft, like a somewhat gentler amalgam of EPICA and NIGHTWISH. I think comparisons to more obscure bands like NORDAGUST on "Spirit of the Desert" and THOBY LOTH on "Morrighan's Jig" and the enthralling instrumental closer "Game of Thrones" are justified as well. Still, if the mere titles like "Jeanne D'Arc" don't have you reaching for your ELOY collection, then the principal instrumental riff in "Helen of Troy" will surely trigger long lost reveries of FRANK BORNEMANN's obsession with feminine power.

In spite of the undeniable appeal of the band's ethnic spread, I do feel that some spirit has been lost in execution, resulting in a partially squandered opportunity. While most individual tracks are more than competent and at times even exciting, as a collective work this lacks sufficient conviction of its own identity to mark real progress. While "Myths and Muses" channeled its influences into a fully formed end product, "The Serpent's Kiss" sounds more like a follower, albeit a skilled one whom the leader would be glad to find in their footsteps. Even closer examination of the quasi metallic metamorphosis reveals that chugging rhythm guitar is the main source of the embellishments, which dampens their effect over the course of the end product. This isn't really so different from its predecessor after all, and most of the difference amounts to abstractions and distractions.

Weaknesses aside, this still might be the go-to disk for most prog fans who want to own something by SERPENTYNE, and who enjoy the hitherto forbidden fruits of florid metal with a heart of folk.

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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 ANTÔNIO ARAÚJO 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
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
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
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
GALLEY BEGGAR 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
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
KEBNEKAJSE 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
JUHA KUJANPAA 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
MOONSTONE 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 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
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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