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Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso

Eclectic Prog

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Woolly Wolstenholme's Maestoso Black Box Recovered album cover
3.03 | 4 ratings | 3 reviews | 25% 5 stars

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Deceivers All (6:02)
2. Has To Be A Reason (4:35)
3. Down The Line (2:35)
4. All Get Burned (3:25)
5. Too Much, Too Loud, Too Late (6:10)
6. Even The Night (3:20)
7. The Will To Fly (4:12)
8. Sunday Bells (4:40)
9. Open (3:38)
10. Why Remain (1:53)
11. Sail Away (Demo) (3:54)
12. A Prospect Of Whitby (Demo) (2:59)
13. Patriots (Demo) (5:57)
14. Quiet Islands (Demo) (5:02)
15. American Excess (Live) (6:10)
16. Lives On The Line (Live) (2:52)
17. Deceivers All (Live) (6:13)
18. Bootham Park Elegy (3:36)

Total Time 77:21

Line-up / Musicians

- Woolly Wolstenholme / vocals, keyboards
- Kim Turner / drums
- Steve Broomhead / guitar
- Terry Grady / bass

Releases information

CD Eclectic ECLCD 1007, 2004

Thanks to Joolz for the addition
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WOOLLY WOLSTENHOLME'S MAESTOSO Black Box Recovered ratings distribution

(4 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(0%)
Good, but non-essential (75%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Black Box Recovered is a compilation of material from various sources, mostly from the early 1980s, half of which is previously unreleased. Tracks 1 - 6 are songs recorded for 'Black Box', an aborted follow-up to Woolly's debut album Męstoso, described as "almost finished masters"; tracks 7 - 10 represent work-in-progress, songs being recorded which were never completed, the most obvious omission being any percussion; tracks 11 - 14 are Woolly's original demos of four songs for the Męstoso album; tracks 15 - 17 are from a bootleg recording of the band live in Vienna 1981; finally, track 18 is a new composition recorded by Woolly alone in 2003.

To the committed fan this disc has obvious interest: the demos show how close the final product often came to Woolly's original vision; while the live tracks show how they could develop in the live arena. Quality is necessarily variable, but they provide a valuable insight into the songs' development. Of the unfinished Black Box work-in-progress songs, two in particular stand-out as tantalizing glimpses of what might have been: The Sunday Bells is a classic in the making while Open invades Procol Harum territory.

The main Black Box recordings (tracks 1 - 6) are, however, the main focus of this album and of these Deceivers All must be considered an absolute masterpiece of its kind, one of the best songs Woolly has ever recorded. Conceived as a bitter reflection on his treatment by faceless record company execs and their broken promises, it is clothed in some magnificent music, at times beguiling, at others stately and anthemic. Curiously it is also the song most likely to connect him to his BJH heritage, its opening bars very reminiscent of songs on Everyone Is Everybody Else, and drenched in beautiful guitar themes and Mellotron.

The remainder continue the kind of quality mid-paced soft-rock delivered on Męstoso: Has To Be A Reason has some lovely organ work and reminds me of The Strawbs; Down The Line is a gentle reflection on life on the San Andreas fault; All Get Burned is pretty enough but a little unmemorable; a gorgeous guitar solo and some dominant organ work lifts the lively rocking Too Much, Too Loud, Too Late into the realms of another Prog classic; Even The Night is a bitter-sweet song pondering the break-up of a romance.

Overall, clearly a mixed bag never intended as a mainstream release, it's main purpose to re-introduce the long unavailable Black Box material in a sympathetic setting [an older CD Songs From The Black Box on Voiceprint comprised this material and the whole of Męstoso but has long since been deleted]. Those six tracks alone make the purchase essential for BJH and Woolly fans, but Deceivers All is a classic melodic Prog song worthy of any collection.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Taking some time on

The sessions for Woolly's second album "Black box" were not released as planned in 1982, the songs eventually appearing in 1994 on the "Songs from the black box" album. That release contained 9 songs from the "Black box" recordings, together with Woolly's debut album "Męstoso" in its entirely. "Songs from the black box" was subsequently deleted, while "Męstoso" remained available on CD. In response to ongoing demand from fans, the "Black box" tracks were repackaged in 2004, with nine unreleased tracks being added in place of the "Męstoso" songs. The results were re-titled "Black box recovered".

The opening "Deceivers all" was rather lost on the 1994 "Songs from the black box" album. Thankfully this magnificent number has been given pole position for this release. The track simply oozes classic BJH sounds and atmospheres, including John Lees like lead guitar by Steve Broomhead and Woolly's symphonic mellotron sound. As with all the tracks here, this is not quite the finished article, the vocals being noticeably far back in the mix (perhaps deliberately). It really is a wonderful lost BJH song though, and one which would have been a highlight of albums such as "Octoberon".

The nine tracks which are deemed to form "Black box" offer a fine diversity of styles, ranging from the soft acoustic to the magnificently pompous; in the case of "The Sunday bells", all in one track. While the recordings for the album were never seen through to completion, the quality in terms of sound and arrangement here is excellent throughout.

One further song "Why remain" from these sessions is added to this release, a gentle but unremarkable piano based ditty. We then have 4 demos of songs which were included on the "Męstoso" album. These versions are actually in a well advanced state, but devoid of drums.

Thereafter we have three live tracks recorded on a smuggled cassette recorder in Vienna in 1981 when the band were supporting Styx on a tour. Two of the tracks are from "Męstoso" and one from "Black box". The harshness of the sound quality is distracting, but the performances are excellent.

The album closes with a new song recorded in 2003 for this compilation. "Bootham Park elegy" is similar atmospherically to "The Sunday Bells", painting a rural picture on a gentle landscape.

In all, a well presented repackaging of Woolly's lost second album which offers much to enjoy. The bonus tracks are interesting but far from essential, with the exception of the new song which is worth hearing.

Random thought - why don't they make planes out of the material used for the black box?

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Wolstenholme was prepared for a great new step in his career as documented in the numerous live shows of his personal band around early-80's as well as the material he started to record for a second album, reputedly entitled ''Black box''.However it appears that Polydor lost interest in Wolstenholme's music and the man himself resided dissapointed initially in Lancashire and later in West Wales.In 1994 the debut album along with Woolly's material for the second release was offered by Voiceprint in ''Songs from the black box''.An even better issue of these archival recordings appeared in 2004, when Wolstenholme was back alive and kickin', under the title ''Black box recovered'', released on Eclectic Discs.

Eighteen tracks in here, all first nine of those cover both the finished and incomplete pieces of the ''Black box'' album.Anyone having heard the bonus tracks of the ''Maestoso'' album will know exactly what to expect.Wolstenholme had made a slight turn towards a more radio-friendly sound, containing even some AOR hints ala TOTO, JOURNEY or BOSTON, but the material is perefectly composed with instant melodies, deep keyboard passages and beautiful, sensitive vocals, colored by romantic acoustic interludes and a certain old BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST flavor in the nice, background synthesizers.But there are also plenty of symphonic moves among the ideas, in fact Woolly's ideas have much in common with STEVE HACKETT's work around the time, presenting a more refined and accesible Symphonic Rock with dreamy textures and atmospheric soundscapes.Great mix of old Orchestral Rock with Melodic Rock was actually what was intended to be the original ''Black box''.

The rest of the album includes unreleased material (''Why remain'', an acoustic piece filled with a nostalgic GENESIS romanticism), demo versions of Woolly's pieces, live recordings and a new composition.The demo versions have a less decent quality than Woolly's original albums. as expected, while the live-captured material shows that this group of experienced musicians had a lot to offer to the Art Rock scene and the public, playing grandiose Art Rock with symphonic underlines and excellent melodies.The closing ''Bootham park elegy'' was recorded by Wolstenholme in 2003 and comes as a mellow composition of ethereal Orchestral/New Age Music with cinematic synths, melancholic vocals and acoustic guitars.

Great compilation linked to Wolstenholme's second but never released album.Melodic and perfectly composed music with strong proggy overtones, rockin' textures and emotional landscapes.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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