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Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso - One Drop In A Dry World CD (album) cover


Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso


Eclectic Prog

3.20 | 15 ratings

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Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars So many setting suns

Barclay James Harvest's Woolly Wolstenholme rejoined the circus which is the music industry after a lengthy sabbatical following a chance meeting with John Lees in 2003. Thus he set about recording his first new solo material for over 20 years. As usual, he uses the band name Maestoso for the project. Only long term associate guitarist Steve Broomhead remains from the 1980's line up, his song writing contribution being limited to one co-credit. The album was recorded over a 13 day period in November 2003, and finalised for release in January 2004.

A brief symphonic introduction featuring Woolly's trusty mellotron leads to the three part "Blood and bones". This powerful trilogy is a little harder than we are used to from Wolstenholme, but the lush mellotron reminds us of the days when the instrument was a feature of the BJH sound. The "Requiem" section features some exquisite violin prior to a return of the main theme.

"A waiting game" bemoans the commercialism of Christmas, the sound being light and acoustic. The inclusion of an oboe solo playing "The first noel" is corny but effective. The song reminds me a little of BJH's "The iron maiden"?. Or is it "Galadriel"? "It's U" is a throwback to the 1960's, including the primitive use of stereo which was a feature of recordings at that time.

"Souk" is the only track not written by Woolstenholme alone, the song beginning life as an instrumental by Steve Broomhead. Lyrics were subsequently added, reflecting the North African flavour of the music and giving the song a sort of "Kashmir" feel. The title track seems to be a song about a hangover, while "ANSS" (A nothing summer song) is a lightweight song about holiday hooligans.

"The end of the road" and "Explorers" are pleasantly melodic without ever really lighting a fire. "2A.M." reflects the misery of insomnia, perhaps being written by Woolly from personal experience. There is a menacing aspect to the song which makes it rather different to the norm for Woolly; the mellotron is used to enhance the dramatic effect.

The lyrics of "The starving people of the world all thank you for your time", are the same as the title, the song being a sort of cross between "Give peace a chance" and "I've seen all good people". The closing "Carpet" describes the "Magic carpet ride" presumably of Woolly's time in BJH. The brief lyrics are directed at an unnamed former colleague (Les Holroyd perhaps). Lines such as "Was it the money, was it fame that made you play a different game?" indicate that even Woolly, who appeared to be on the periphery of the bad blood, also holds a level of frustration and resentment. The final "setting sun" lyric may refer to Holroyd's song "It's my life" which opens his first album as BJH Featuring Les Holroyd which includes the line "Time moves on like a setting sun" *. The song is used musically to form a grand ("Four gong") conclusion to the album.

In all, a decent comeback album from Woolly. While never really matching the lofty heights of his work with BJH, or indeed his first solo album, there is enough good material here to prove that there is plenty of life in the old dog yet!

* Coincidentally, Woolly himself uses a "Setting sun" lyric on his song "Harbour" which appeared on BJH's XII album. Holyoyd also used the reference on "The Song (They Love To Sing)" on "Eyes of the universe". Furthermore, the sleeve of the "Gone to earth" album has a picture of, yes, a setting sun.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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