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Strawbs - From The Witchwood CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.02 | 247 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Their first studio release with the new line-up now grown to a quintet and the addition of the new band members Richard Hudson, John Ford and Rick Wakeman in particular contributed a lot to the change in style from their original folk roots more into Prog territory. This album had been as well my favourite one when I started to listen to The Strawbs in my twenties. Of course since that time I found and learn to love many more bands and also more exciting and challenging ones but still I've to say their classic releases between this one and Ghosts are always an enjoyable listen for me even nowadays. Moreover especially FTW and the following one GNW have to be considered their best work and in my opinion essential in terms of Prog what is to be argued about in case of the other three records they did in that period.

Although the first four tracks are sounding rather mellow with "A Glimpse Of Heaven" opening the album with pastoral organ tunes the songs on here appear overall considerably more rocking. Actually there are almost exclusively strong tracks here with only one exception that is the country song "I'll Carry On Beside You" which is really redundant IMHO. Strawbs were doing here progressive rock in the true original meaning by combining influences from multiple genres (ethnic, classical, psychedelic and rock) to a resulting blend which had been something really new and pleasing to equal shares. This ain't that much Prog how we define it nowadays, no epic long-tracks, no complex song structures or odd time signatures. Without intending to put this record down in any way these songs (especially the first four) are more or less (only) nice, but really not simplistic ones which should appeal to almost anybody without any experience in Prog. Still worth mentioning might be the fact that Rick Wakeman played his second instrument on the academy of music clarinet in "Witchwood". But the real highlights of this record are to be found rather on its second half, starting with "The Hangman And The Papist" where he played the Moog for the very first time. Then it continues with great impressing organ play in "Sheep" and the two ethnically influenced tracks "Canon Danon" and "The Shepherd's Song". The following acoustic ballad "In Amongst The Roses" is as well an excellent song.

As a conclusion I can say that Strawbs' "From the Witchwood" might not be considered a masterpiece in progressive music but certainly had been an impressing and excellent folk rock record with strong progressive leanings and I'd highly recommend it together with their even stronger successor to any Prog Folk-fan.

hdfisch | 4/5 |


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