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Strawbs From The Witchwood album cover
4.03 | 293 ratings | 43 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Glimpse Of Heaven (3:53)
2. Witchwood (3:26)
3. Thirty Days (2:55)
4. Flight (4:27)
5. The Hangman And The Papist (4:14)
6. Sheep (4:16)
7. Canon Dale (3:49)
8. The Shepherd's Song (4:35)
9. In Amongst The Roses (3:50)
10. I'll Carry On Beside You (3:11)

Total Time: 38:36

Bonus track on 1998 A&M remaster:
11. Let's Keep The Devil Outside (3:05)

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Cousins / acoustic & electric guitars, banjo (1,2), dulcimer (2), tenor recorder (7), vocals
- Tony Hooper / acoustic guitar, autoharp (1), tambourine (7,10), vocals
- Rick Wakeman / organ, piano, electric piano (4), harpsichord (7,9), Mellotron (8), Moog (6,8), celesta (1), clarinet (2)
- John Ford / bass, vocals
- Richard Hudson / drums, snare drum (5), sitar (3,7,8), vocals

Releases information

ArtWork: Roger Saunders

LP A&M Records ‎- AMLH 64304 (1971, UK)

CD A&M Records ‎- D32Y3578 (1987, Japan)
CD A&M Records ‎- 5409392 (1998, Europe) Remastered by Roger Wake w/ 1 bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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STRAWBS From The Witchwood ratings distribution

(293 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

STRAWBS From The Witchwood reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars A glimpse of heaven indeed

"From the Witchwood" marked the start of the Strawbs transition in earnest from a primarily acoustic folk based band, to a prog rock orientated band with strong folk influences.

The album represents Rick Wakeman's last venture with the Strawbs, before he was headhunted by Yes. In retrospect, his keyboard skills whilst apparent, were somewhat suppressed in the Strawbs, with only brief displays of his virtuosity such as those on "Sheep" and "Glimpse of heaven". It was perhaps inevitable that when the opportunity arose, he would move on to a band where he would be afforded more room to exercise his skills. Rick Wakeman and Dave Cousins have however remained firm friends, collaborating more recently on the Strawbs flavoured "Hummingbird" album.

Wakeman does manage to add some wonderfully dramatic effects to "From the Witchwood", particularly with the menacing organ on "The hangman and the papist". The song is an incredibly powerful story of a hangman finding his next victim is to be his brother, who is to be punished for his religious beliefs. You can almost touch the raw emotion as Dave Cousins sings "forgive me God we hang him in thy name".

The opening track, "A Glimpse of heaven" has a hymnal quality to it, with church like organ and choir like vocals on the choruses. The brief keyboard solo has some effective phasing, something of a forgotten art these days.

The band's folk influences come to the fore on tracks such as "Witchwood", and "In amongst the roses", while "Cannondale" and "The shepherd's song" have a deeper, more haunting structure. "Sheep" is an out and out rocker, with a great if brief organ solo by Wakeman, leading into a reflective ending. Surely one of the only songs ever written about an abattoir?

The closing track "I'll carry on beside you" is a great sing-a-long, which especially lends itself to participation after a few beers!

In all, superb album, which finds the band exploring new pastures and starting their migration to a major prog folk band. Well worth seeking out.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Many years have passed since I bought my first "From the Witchwood" LP, and still don't know how to catalogue it. Is this album Folk/Prog, Celtic/Prog, Psychedelic/ Folk or simply folk with some progressive escapes? I'm not the person to answer this questions, the only thing I can assure is that Strawbs has influences of all those genres and that the music has great quality, it's that kind of albums I can't take from the CD player of my car for several weeks each time it gets there.

Many people valuate "From the Witchwood" because it was the last Wakeman experience with the band before he joined Yes, but that's unfair, Dave Cousins voice is really beautiful and ideal for this soft kind of pastoral music and of course John Ford's bass is simply outstanding, I'm sure Strawbs would have succeeded even if Rick never joined them.

Rick Wakeman's work is simply amazing, not in the sense we're used to (with long and incredible solos and being almost a second front man) but because he worked for the band leaving his personal ambitions behind, only in determined tracks as "The Hangman and the Papist" the listener realizes the role he's going to assume in future projects.

"From the Witchwood" starts with two very folksy tracks "Glimpse of Heaven" and "Witchwood", tracks in which the band develops the atmosphere that will be prevalent in all the album, both very good tracks even though not outstanding.

"Thirty Days" has a sound that reminds Hindu music, specially because of the oriental sitar listened along the track, this Hindu influence doesn't let us forget the psychedelic roots of Strawbs, something very common in the late 60's early 70's with bands that were able to try new paths but without leaving behind all the Psychedelic traces.

"Flight" is a track that always reminds me of the Beatles song "Sun King" (Abbey Road), the chorus are very characteristic of Beatles Psychedelic era, and again the sitar makes that sensation even stronger. Extremely beautiful and soft track.

Now is the turn of the best track of all the album and probably the only 100% progressive, "The Hangman and the Papist", seems that Wakeman has spent the first four tracks to show what he's capable of, the keyboards introduction gives us an idea of how his sound will develop in the next couple of years. But that isn't all, the lyrics are incredibly strong and dramatic (A hangman that finds the next victim is his own brother) and Dave cousins voice adds more dramatics. Music goes in crescendo with a perfect drumming by Richard Hudson that create the effect of the prisoner marching towards the last meeting with his brother. The song ends abrupt as when a prisoner falls to his death Simply a masterpiece of music and concept.

"Sheep" is pure British Psychedelia, the keyboards (sounding as Farfisa Organ) are simply breathtaking, in the middle the change to a softer tune is totally dramatic, but Rick maintains the original atmosphere with the keyboards played at a lower volume.

With "Canon Dale" I can feel another change, even though the softer side prevails, Rick adds a lot of progressive atmosphere with wonderful keyboards, sounding more like in his solo projects (specially Criminal Record) than in his Yes years.

"The Shepard" is a track that returns to the pastoral sound, the sensation of peace is simply refreshing. Again I can feel some Beatles influence, specially in the long vocal sections effect that is absolutely rewarding and only cut by short keyboard passages in which Rick reminds the listener he is mainly a progressive keyboardist playing in a folk band.

"In Amongst the Roses" is a very delicate 100% folk tune where the mixture of voices reminds me of "Songs from the Woods" by Jethro Tull (Even though this track was released 6 years before than Tull's song), the acoustic guitar accentuates the bucolic feeling, beautiful and refreshing track, ideal to listen at 6:00 pm after a hard day of work when you hate everybody, changes your mood in a matter of seconds.

"I'll Carry On Besides You" is another wonderful folk tune, not as calmed as the previous you can feel the power of the vocals drums and piano, almost as a Celtic hymn, the electric guitar solo in the middle of the track is simply outstanding and near the end again Wakeman adds some psychedelic atmosphere.

The A&M re-issue has a bonus track "Keep the Devil Outside", a good track but it's clearly out of it's natural environment, definitely anybody will discover it was not recorded to be a part of this recording, in other album would have sounded much more adequate.

I believe "From the Witchwood" is almost a masterpiece because Strawbs had evolved up to a point where they ceased to be only a folk band and gave their first step towards a progressive future.

Would wish to rate the album with 5 stars but being honest I believe they deserve only 4 solid stars because there are a couple of weaker tracks, despite the rating I still believe "From the Witchwood" is absolutely essential but not a complete masterpiece.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 1971 marked the first genuine masterpiece from The Strawbs with the folk/rock blend of From The Witchwood. It is hard to actually define this album because it changes in styles between songs ,quite radically from the title track which is almost hesitantly haunting folk to the blistering rocker on ' Sheep' or the tragic story of a brother beheading his brother in medievil days on the ' Hangman and the Papist'. Cousins always managed to deliver with political statements ( Here protestants V catholics) and still retain the beauty and grace of the songs' framework. From the Witchwood is a must for anyone looking for an essential piece of progressive music from the early 70's.' Glimpse of Heaven', the dreamy ' Canon Dale' and the typically English ' In amongst the roses' are the other highlights on this truly magnificent album.It also has the classic early line up of Hooper/Hudson/Ford/Wakeman and Cousins. I wonder where Tony Hooper is nowadays?
Review by Tony Fisher
5 stars This was the second album I ever bought and is one of my all time favourites. You won't get soaring lead guitar a la Yes, but what you do get are some of the finest folk rock songs ever written with Rick Wakeman's beautiful keyboard work to embellish them before he developed his tendency to overelaborate. This was his last album with them before he joined Yes, but they survived his departure because there was far more to the band than just him, contrary to some views. And they are definitely progressive!

Glimpse of Heaven opens with some great organ and celeste work behind Dave Cousans' beautiful vocals and the instrumental break in the middle is amazing. Witchwood is a dark, brooding song with lovely instrumentation including a dulcimer. Thirty Days is sung by John Ford and is a mainly acoustic anti war song with some fine sitar work from Richard Hudson. Flight is a gentle Richard Hudson song with wonderful harmony vocals and Wakeman's piano. The piece de resistance is the Hangman and the Papist - a civil war tale of how war divides brothers; in this case a soldier has to hang his brother. Few more powerful, dramatic songs have ever been recorded and Cousans produces the vocal performance of his life, backed by the organ and filled in expertly by the others.

Side 2 starts off, less promisingly since Sheep and Canon Dale are the weakest cuts on the album, though still enjoyable. The former features a fine Moog solo. Shepherd Song is a beautiful, slightly erotic song which culminates in a fabulous instrumental outro where each instrument joins in turn. The melloton work on this is one of the earliest and best examples of how to use one. In amongst the roses is exquisite, with lovely acoustic guitar work and some fine keyboards, Tony Hooper and Dave Cousans alternating on vocals. The album ends with I'll Carry on Beside You, which features a rare electric guitar solo and is beautifully sung by Tony Hooper.

With four first class singers, a keyboardist of the highest order, four fine and very different songwriters and a wide range of exotic instuments to complement the keyboards guitar/bass/ drums mix, Strawbs were truly magnificent at this time. If you don't have this and the next one (Grave New World), you really are missing out on a treat.

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is a miliar stone of the seventies! It Combines a folk structure with a symphonic strong tendency. I have discovered them only some months ago and I can't get enough of hearing almost every day. I know very well Jethro Tull music so I've started to listen to other so called "related" bands: what a surprise!!!!
Review by lor68
4 stars This is a kind of diverse artistic anticipation, in the same mood of their most successful "Grave New World": as for its mysticism above all, but also for the strange approach by R. Wakeman, whose grandeur is abandoned for a while, being ruled by some other exigencies and several "touches" of 1st class as well.the balance between the construction of the unplugged and religious "songs" (almost suitable for a real church) and such a clever arrangement concerning the prog folk by Rick, is pretty good: the title track, but also "Glimpse of Heaven" with its fine sound of church organ, are the best songs, but you cannot forget the other tracks, whose inspiration is quite high anyway!!

If you like "Grave New World", you will appreciate also the present "religious" work. essential folk prog!!

Review by NJprogfan
4 stars Being a huge fan of this band and the writings of Dave Cousins, it's my least favorite of most of the A & M work they did up to 'Ghosts'. Even though Rick Wakeman is on this record and has some nice solo stuff, ('The Hangman And The Papist', 'Sheep', 'The Shepherd's Song') it wasn't until he joined YES was he able to stretch his fingers, so to speak. What keeps me from enjoying this album is the tracks by Hudson & Ford. I'm not a big fan of theirs and their work seems out of place as compared to Cousins. Be it a popish tune, or folk, Hudson & Ford's songs just ruin the overall feel of the album whole. Whereas Cousins songs are dreamy, introspective and grand, the Hudson & Ford tracks leave me cold. Anywho, this particular album is, nevertheless, a must have for Folk/Prog fans just for the simple fact that the master keyboarder Wakeman was actually in such a group, and he's magnificent! 4-stars for Strawb fans, 3-stars for prog fans, so rounded out I'll give it a 3.5 rating rounding it out to 4 just cause I like them so much :-).
Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Rare enough to actually mention, this album has an unchanged line-up compared to its predecessor Antiques And Curios. One of the things this album achieves clearly is to confirm/consolidates the transit stage of the group from a folk unit to a rock group and the good thing about it is that they are very progressive about it, not just in the speed of the change.

With this album, the three recruits that came in become even better established even if Wakeman will leave after this one, the other two will provide the rhythm section for all of the classic (IMHO as it ends with Grave New World) Strawbs album.

Certainly the most endearing track is the folky title track with its absolutely marvellous and magic ambiances, while the follow-up 30 days uses a lot of sitar but unfortunately this makes the track rather aimed at 60's psych/folkheads rather than us progheads. Flight seems to be coming from a Jefferson Airplane or Spirit album. And guys, this is a bloody compliment!!! Hangman and The Papist is one of the cornerstones of Strawbs and maybe the best example on how Wakeman was able to transform this group into something really special - while they left him a chance to because you can feel him being restrained with his organs just mixed a tad too low to stop him from stealing the show. Its rather war-march beat in close to a bolero and simply awesome providing the listener with all of the drama/tension that you wish would become their signature, but alas it was not to be!). Wakeman just explodes in the following Sheep and clearly what we had seen in Antiques was now all too clearly evident, raw talent just waiting to be exposed. Again in Canon Dale his KB are being purposely under-mixed and by the time the sitar comes in, the track is unfortunately lost even if Rick does attempt to bring it back and almost succeeds a tour-de-force. Shepherd's Song is yet another excellent moment (again greatly aided by Wakeman's gorgeous piano and hints of mellotrons in the ending crescendo too) of folk meeting rock. Roses is rather musically unspectacular but shines in its own folk harmonics way. Just too bad the album ends with such a down such as the country-ish (this is relative but it is striking with the rest of the album) Beside You. Not that bad, but clearly out of context on this album.

Curios, this album and the following Grave New World being the three key albums from Strawbs, I would suggest starting out with this one if you are new to them. Be sure to take the remastered version (the sound quality is not immediately obvious to the ears, but the booklet gives added info (but sadly not the lyrics), but the bonus track "Keep The Devil Outside" is also very worthy even if not quite up to the best tracks of the album, it fits quite nicely along.

Rightly so Wakeman being at the top of his game with his inspirations clearly being kept down by the rather too tight-walled sound of Strawbs, he will leave for Yes and its Fragile and CTTE masterpieces and will reach the apex of his career with his first stupendous and superlative solo album (only the fourth or fifth of his young career), where he shines brighter than the sun. Soon however, the man will find a stardust-sprinkled cape, buy himself an over-inflated ego and acquire one of the tackiest tastes around that brought shame on prog for decades to come with his stupid symphonic journeys/epics and his ridiculous prog-on-ice shows. A superfast shooting star shining like the sun and exploding into a supernova all into two years time; whoever said that time stood still?

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This moody album holds a nice collection of songs, which form a loose theme by their similar aesthetics and subjects of lyrics: These are truly short stories from the ancient medieval days. The music itself is still clearly played by an early 1970's European band, as the melodies and instrumentations are quite conventional when evaluated from a view point of the progressive rock music. So the medieval influences are present in the themes of the music and in lyrics, but this is not a pure record of ancient music, but more a product of a strong musical fusion. Rick Wakeman brings a very pleasant extra touch to the songs with his keyboard contributions.

The opener "Glimpse of Heaven" is a calm and beautiful opener, and the organs, the melody and vocal chorus some reminds me the classic 1960's song "Morning Has Broken", which also contains an example of Rick's keyboard talents. This composition has also few different rhythm parts in it, so the arrangement holds even more qualities of an art rock than just these keyboards. The title tune "Witchwood" is then quite medieval like calm composition, which melodies and rhythm hold a nice Irish feeling. The few sitar passages are brought surprisingly by the bands drummer Richard Hudson to the "Thirty Days", which is a conventional hippie-oriented 60's folk song with an annoying fade-out. "Flight" is also an average basic folk song, but the following "The Hangman and The Papist" is clearly the most affecting track from this album for me, being a grim short story from the shadow of the gallows pole. It's interesting how folk music can also be quite brutal and raw, as the classic version of folk music usually stands for airy fairy songs by a lady singer with a guitar, embodying as a kind of Western version of Japanese Geisha culture. The following song "Sheep" also continues the oppressing feeling brought in at the previous number, but after the middle part of the song it takes a wonderful turn to a peaceful direction. "Canon Dale" combines mysterious European melody with flavors from the oriental music presented with a beatnik style. "The Shepherd's Song" has a smooth theme paired with a faster acoustic guitar runs, which elevated associations of classical Spanish music due to its rhythm and the melody swinging around two adjacent tone steps. "In Amongst The Roses" is a peaceful lullaby, which has some nice harpsichord runs strengthening the medieval themes of the melody. "I'll Carry on Beside You" closed my version of this record, as I didn't have the bonus track in my copy. The final song had also an electric guitar solo, and though it's not a poor tune, it still isn't among the better parts of this album.

It is hard for me to compare this album to the other releases by this band, as I haven't heard them yet. Still I would consider this as a quite good artistic folk album. Anybody who has appetite for such record should give "From The Witchwood" a listen.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. Prog Folk isn't my favourite genre so please consider this with my rating. First off I have to say that I love David Cousins vocals.

The record opens with "A Glimpse Of Heaven", and the highlight for me is Rick Wakeman on organ here that gets pretty crazy, then you hear the organ over the picked banjo, cool. "Thirty Days", "Flight" and "Sheep" are all very sixties sounding, and you can hear the BEATLES sound on "Thirty Days". "The Hangman And The Papist" has amazing lyrics and is probably the best song. "The Shepherd's Song" is the only song where Rick plays mellotron and moog, good song. "I'll Carry On Beside You" has a bit of THE BAND sound, and David Cousins plays lead guitar on this one as well as on the bonus track.

If your into Folk music or the sixties sound, check this excellent record out.

Review by hdfisch
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.

Review by Matti
4 stars In my opinion one of the best STRAWBS albums! Still very much in the folk style of the early Strawbs it starts their stongest era, during which they shifted towards more progressive and electric rock (culminating on Ghosts). This one is a many-sided collection of songs, some great and some just OK, but with the emphasis on the word great. Here and there it reminds of the early TRAFFIC, with sitars and a psychedelic atmosphere of the late 60's (this can be credited mostly to Richard Hudson, who hasn't yet stuck into his later laidback country-ish style). Rick Wakeman's instrument list is colourful, but his contribution stays pretty much in the background with an exception of some solos. The overall sound, when it's not TRAFFIC-like, is very flexible folk-rock with various moods, from pastoral to anti-war.

As usual, it's the songwriting talent of Dave Cousins that makes this a Strawbs classic. He's not hiding his romantic side; 'The Shepherd's Song' paints a picture of lovers under the sky. The strongest track, as many others have said before me, is definitely the dramatic 'Hangman and the Papist'. I've read that the original LP had serious porblems in sound but the CD is absolutely cured from them. The bonus track 'Keep the Devil Outside' is very good too (included also in the Halcyon Days compilation).

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars From The Witchwood is an album from the second year of many proggers' favourite decade, the 1970s. And since it's such an early effort, I perhaps shouldn't be as surprised to find such strong 60s influences in it. But I am.

Many of the songs here could just as well have seen the light of day as part of a mid-sixties Beatles album. If you've heard one of those, a blend of light-weight psych rock, pop and folk shouldn't be entirely unfamiliar, all with the elusive British overtones I often seem encounter, but seldom manage to describe in words. Throw in some really notable - but not overwhelming - use of sitar and Shepherd's Song with its familiar White Rabbit-esque groove and you should get the general feel of what I'm talking about:

Kinda trippy at times, but never beyond the borders of the 'accessible' stuff from that period of time.

Folk has always been a dominant part of Strawbs' sound (no kidding!) and many tracks are just that. Nice folky tunes, always a pleasant listen, but unfortunately rarely interesting or striking for me when used as extensively as here. Acoustic galore, be it with guitar or any other stringed instrument, together with a bunch of other traditional sounds still manage to keep me concentrated for more time than I'd first expected. Images of misty moors, small rural villages and gloomy dark forests of those British Isles more or less constantly fly through my head for the thirty-six minutes the album runs. While the general rule is that mellowness prevails, there are also a couple of harder, faster parts, often with a symphonic edge that gradually will take up more and more place in Strawb's music. Sheep is an excellent example of this, where the hard-edged riff and Wakeman's organ (yes, THE Wakeman) form a structure that only can be described as symphonic, even though it is that in an earthier, more proto-prog kind of way. For those of you that might consider this a great way to pick up a forgotten Wakeman masterpiece, don't bother. The virtuoso keyboardist finds himself in more of a background role here, but he still manages to shine through on most notably Sheep, A Glimpse Of Heaven and my favourite song on the album, The Hangman And The Papist (the final vocal lines have yet to fail in sending waves of chills down my spine).

No, now when I really think about it, he adds another dimension to the album as a whole, won't take that from him. Not just in the flashy way we're used to.

Dave Cousins was an acquired taste for me, because while being a very emotional singer, he's got a very distinct voice, reaching a slightly nasal, almost bleating tone when aiming for more powerful territory. But once you've gotten used to it, it quickly turns into more of a trademark instead of a drawback. What is for sure is that when sticking to smoother parts, he sings nothing short of beautiful. He doesn't sing all by himself though, sharing the vocal duties with the other members of the band. Not including Wakeman, though...

A pleasant surprise from this prog-folk band, and some fresh air for me, who have only really listened to Tull from this genre before. And the best part of it is that later albums will be even better!

3 stars.


Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars A glimpse of heaven

With From The Witchwood, Strawbs took a major leap forward in their evolution. Not only do they sound many times more confident here compared to the immature two first studio albums, but suddenly they also had their very own sound and really strong material. Assorted stringed acoustic instruments are cleverly mixed with Rock drums, Rick Wakeman's brilliant keyboards, and Dave Cousins' haunting lead vocals to transport the listener right into the heard of the mystical witchwood. Instruments used include banjo, autoharp, harpsichord, organ, celeste, dulcimer, piano, and electric piano. Rick is even credited for playing Mellotron and Moog, but don't expect anything like he later did with Yes.

In my view, From The Witchwood is one of Strawbs' strongest albums. Indeed, for me it is not only better than the previous two studio albums but also than the following two. However, the real peak of the band's career, at least from a progressive point of view, came later with Hero And Heroine and Ghosts.

Excellent addition to any Prog Folk collection

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars The new line-up (compared to their last studio album) also meant some changes in their musical style. The band plays a more rock oriented music combined with definite folk influences. I guess that folk-rock is the best way to describe this release.

There is a certain psychedelia mood available as well. Not to mention the Oriental influence of a track like Thirty Days and Cannondale. But lots of bands included these sounds at the time (or even earlier).

The Beatles influence on the vocal harmonies are nicely reproduced (Flight). And although now a full- time member, Rick Wakeman has little to no influence in terms of song writing and let's be honest: his wonderful skills are not very much put on the forefront either (except on a couple of songs).

One of my favourite track is The Hangman & The Papist which structure reminds me of their epic The Vision of the Lady of the Lake which was available on their previous album. The crescendo is very effective and the drumming admirably completes this excellent song (Rick's work is also detectable here).

He is much more prominent during Sheep, which is a very good psyche song full of pumping keyboards. It is a very lively track, rather different than their earlier production. But I do like this orientation. It is a solid rock number (almost heavy in terms of keyboarding). It is a highlight.

The Shepherd's Song is a combination of soft folk and excellent keyboard play: piano, mellotron are extremely enjoyable. The sitar sounds also nice (but this instrument has already been used in several tracks): this is also one of the highlights.

From The Witchwood combines nicely folk with symphonic prog. It is quite an achievement and a very enjoyable album to listen to. Seven out of ten; but I'll upgrade it thanks to its creative approach even if the few songs are more conventional.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The more pastoral view of things

When most people think Prog Folk they likely either think of Jethro Tull, or this band. Strawbs where the more chilled out side of the prog folk subgenre, their calm and pleasant arrangements are a little bit hard to nab off of the first listen, but this is also the kind of music that unexpectedly makes its way under your skin when you're least expecting it. The songs on the album are likely best described as ''delicate'' for the most part, with most of the tunes being a soft blend of organ, guitar and a mellow-voice these aren't exactly the kind of songs to rock out and raise the horns to, but rather sit back and enjoy some very pleasant music. A Glimpse Of Heaven is indeed what you get with this album if you're looking for something in a more tranquil vein.

There's no particular standout song on this album since there's no giant epic to overpower the rest. None of the songs on the album reach even 5-minutes, and while this may evoke a certain amount of skepticism in some proggers their worries will quickly drift away after they see what there is to like on the album. What makes each of the short tunes great is a wonderful sense of pastoral melody that can catch the ear of any listener. One great example of this is the great riff from the wonderful title track, Witchwood which dominates the song. Other songs on the album are more inclined to the vocal side of things, especially nearing the end as on In Amongst The Roses and I'll Carry On Beside You, each of which feature some great vocal performances and really let the album end with a bang.

Of course one member of the band that has to get due credit here is Rick Wakeman. Yes, the very same who would soon join the band Yes. This would be Wakeman's second effort with the band, and he really gets some places to shine here. Case in point is the excellent number, The Hangman and The Papist, in which Wakeman unleashes all of his keyboard playing fury into the organ at the beginning of the track making for a blindingly virtuosoistic intro to the normally chilled album. While the song soon slows to a more Strawbs-like pace it's easy to see where Yes would want to take their 'new' keyboardist from. Other than the intro this is also an amazing tune on its own. Cousins and Co. manage to tell a haunting story about a reluctant hangman who winds up having to hang his own brother as he finds out moments before the execution. With delivery that will leave a chill in your spine and a final lyrical line that will leave your stomach in knots, if there was a stantout song on the album - it would be this one.

Other songs on the album don't play as filler, they work as excellent tunes all their own. Thirty Days is another song with heavy lyrical content and others such as Sheep are surprisingly aggressive with their build in the short period of time that they have to evolve. The remastered version of the album also features the tune, Keep The Devil Outside which fits in very well with the album since it started off as a b-side taken from the disc and adds three-minutes and four seconds of more great music onto the end of the album.

For those who are looking for a folk-oriented album with a heavy use of organ and some more pastoral feelings then look no further than this album. Those who want to headbang should steer clear of this effort, but for those who enjoy this kind of music a definite 4 stars must be awarded here. Great in every sense of the word. Highly recommended to Strawbs fans, Prog-Folk fans and Wakeman fans alike.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars "From the Witchwood" is one of rock music's most successful attempts at sounding ancient without a trace of self parody. Strawbs had been trying for nearly a half decade to achieve these ends, and bits and pieces of the prior 3 albums do succeed, but something about the whole makeup of "Witchwood" fits like a neatly completed jigsaw. Audiences in the 1970 time period had been searching for this sound, and here it arrived only to be relatively ignored. No doubt, it did achieve a measure of success, but nothing near the degree merited.

The album begins with arguably its two best cuts - the ever popular song of praise to the countryside in a "Glimpse of Heaven", and a contrasting view of the trappings of earthly existence in "Witchwood". Other than the presiding folk element, the songs are quite different, with the title cut being far more mysterious and haunting, helped along by Cousins' dulcimer and banjo. The album takes a dip for the obligatory contributions of Hudson and Ford. While these tracks are not bad, Cousins is so at the top of his songwriting game here that anyone else looks inadequate by comparison. Luckily he re-emerges with his classic song of religious division, "The Hangman and the Papist". In its introduction we are privy to Rick Wakeman's immense talent, but it is the song that overshadows Mr Wakeman, from the poignant lyrics to the buildup to Dave Cousins' blood curdling denouement.

"Sheep" is a superb progressive song, like an early Strawbs suite, that began Side 2 forcefully back in the old LP days. It starts with a frenetic couple of verses and a rare appearance of electric guitar, before Wakeman takes over on organ and brings the house down. Then things settle down into a young boy's view of a slaughterhouse and how it changes his life. It's all a bit twee in 2009, sure, but still a timeless lesson. After Hudson's snooze fest "Canon Dale", we are back to another highlight, "Shepherd's Song", and the first Strawbs tune to feature mellotron prominently, as well as a moog solo. The guitars, vocals, and poetic lyrics are all top shelf, and while the overall mood is pastoral, we are getting more clues as to Cousins' push and pull around affairs of the flesh and sin. "In Amongst The Roses" is a return visit to the nearly pure folk of the first couple of albums, with added sprinkles of harpsichord, and a now rare vocal duet between Cousins and Hooper. The album proper ends with the country tinged "I'll Carry on Beside You", which sounds like it was great fun for the group, from Hooper's lead to the sing-along chorus to Wakeman's slamming of the piano keys saloon style. Such variety on one disk.

The bonus track is actually an odd fish. It would be more at home on "Bursting at the Seams" or "Hero and Heroine" than that of the album currently under consideration, being a very progressive song that begins quietly and slowly builds up. The prominence of electric guitar played in a progressive style distinguishes it from anything else of this period. In spite of this dichotomy, it's an excellent bonus track that seems a few years ahead of its time, and I suppose a small link to the original closer can be found via Wakeman's piano work.

I don't know exactly where the Witchwood might be, but music emanating thereof truly seems to come from another space and time. While Strawbs retained this quality throughout their history, the spell was most powerful on this 1971 release.

Review by seventhsojourn
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars While I realise that song-by-song album reviews aren't everybody's cup of Rosie Lea, all the songs on From The Witchwood (1971) deserve at least a mention. It's a particularly fine album that tends to get overlooked in favour of succeeding works such as Grave New World, which is seen by many as the archetypal Strawbs folk-prog album. It could even be argued that From The Witchwood is best known not for its wonderful collection of rural- themed songs, but for being the last Strawbs recording with Rick Wakeman in the band's line-up. For me, it's the best folk-based album by Strawbs.

The combination of, in particular, Dave Cousins' compositions and Wakeman's keyboards is what makes this album special. Wakeman employs an arsenal of eight different keyboards that contrasts dramatically with the more traditional instruments of the other musicians. This contrast is exemplified on the opening track GLIMPSE OF HEAVEN. No words of mine can do justice to this song, but the juxtaposition of phased organ and lightning-fast banjo is a masterstroke. Banjo, along with dulcimer, also features on the sedately paced WITCHWOOD. This is a typical Cousins' folkloric narrative of a man bewitched while walking in the woods. THIRTY DAYS, penned by bass player John Ford, is basically an upbeat sitar-led pop tune with strong shades of The Beatles' Norwegian Wood. Drummer Richard Hudson plays the sitar and the instrument features strongly on his composition from the second half of the album, CANON DALE. This is a quasi-religious song that also has something of a Beatles flavour, this time sounding a bit like Within You Without You. Hudson also wrote FLIGHT, which perhaps sees the band taking some tentative symphonic steps.

The remainder of the tracks are all Cousins' compositions, and the album really hangs on his two songs that straddle the album's midriff. THE HANGMAN AND THE PAPIST, a polemic on the so-called 'troubles' in Northern Ireland, and the grisly SHEEP, with its frenzied psychedelic organ runs, together practically define prog-folk. The three tracks that conclude the album are lighter in mood, although THE SHEPHERD'S SONG is possibly the most progressive piece here. Based around one of Cousins' erotic ballads, it incorporates an Hispanic influence and features stirring Mellotron and Moog. During the fade, Wakeman's piano playing mimics the militaristic drumming to good effect. IN AMONGST THE ROSES is a melancholy duet between Cousins and Tony Hooper, while I'LL CARRY ON BESIDE YOU provides a rousing finish and even contains a rare electric guitar solo. Great stuff, and it puts me in the mood to join Bob in having a wee swallie ;-)

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I hesitated giving the Strawbs a go for quite some time and after finally experiencing the highly impressive Hero And Heroine it felt like the band could only get better on From The Witchwood, an album featuring our favorite keyboard wizard in the lineup!

Although I wasn't completely convinced by this band's Prog Folk label, after both Grave New World and Hero And Heroine had more of a Symphonic Prog vibe to the performances, so I was even more surprised when I realized the Rick Wakeman chose to partake in what can only be called a true Folk Rock album. Of course that doesn't mean that everything here sounds like Crosby, Stills, Nash, even if the album opening Glimpse Of Heaven might give a hint of just that!

Among the highlights we have subtle beauty of Witchwood and Flight, while the more upbeat Sheep and The Shepherd's Song finally give Wakeman more space to show off his tremendous talent. I guess it becomes pretty clear why our favorite keyboard wizard didn't stay around for another round when you hear him play his heart out on the intro to The Hangman And The Papist while the rest of that tune is just your typical Folk Rock performance from the band. At the same time it's weird that the Strawbs actually came closer to Wakeman's symphonic style with each proceeding album while From The Witchwood sounds almost like a polar opposite of just that.

Since I'm generally not a fan of pure Folk Rock it's difficult for me to enjoy this album any more than I do already. Even fans of Prog Folk might feel slightly underwhelmed by this material, although it's difficult to assume this by looking at the album's solid rating after almost 50 ratings. Besides, it really makes no sense to me when a b-side tune like Let's Keep The Devil Outside turns out to be the best song out of the bunch, available on the reissue of the album, without actually making the cut in the first place! Maybe I'm just missing something here?

**** star songs: Witchwood (3:26) Thirty Days (2:55) Flight (4:27) The Hangman And The Papist (4:14) Sheep (4:16) Canon Dale (3:49) The Shepherd's Song (4:35) I'll Carry On Beside You (3:11)

*** star songs: Glimpse Of Heaven (3:53) In Amongst The Roses (3:50)

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is so far the only other Strawbs album I have heard besides Hero & Heroine. That album has some very stereotypical 'prog rock' moments, while this album is more 'prog folk' and shows the band coming into it's own. This is the only Strawbs album where Rick Wakeman was a full member; after this he left to join some band called Yes to which leader Dave Cousins was not happy. On this album Wakeman plays not only piano, organ, harpsichord and celeste, but also clavinet, electric piano, Mellotron and Moog synthesizer as well. The duo of Hudson and Ford make their appearance here. Compared to what came before, From The Witchwood is a lot more rock and 'prog' oriented.

"A Glimpse Of Heaven" has very traditional sounds for the most part. Nice choir vocals. Halfway gets more energenic with what sounds like phased organ and banjo. After gets almost lullaby-like for awhile. "Witchwood" is a highlight. Great melodies and chord changes in this song. Sounds like the banjo has an echo effect on it which adds to the atmosphere. "Thirty Days" has some sitar. A very Beatlesesque song, especially the singing. "Flight" begins with some Moog sounds before acoustic guitars set the mood for the song. Nice harmony vocals here. Good classical piano from Wakeman. Interesting but subtle drumming. Over halfway a steady beat comes in with some jazzy piano.

"The Hangman And The Papist" is another highlight. Great organ work from Wakeman. Almost a Tull flavour to this song. "Sheep" is almost a throwback to late 1960s rock. More great organ work. Awesome Moog parts which only make the song more enjoyable. Good organ solo. Gets more mellow and laid-back over halfway. "Canon Dale" features more sitar and some cool phased harmony vocals in the middle with some great wah-organ (or is it guitar?) Some backwards effects at one point. "The Shepherd's Song" has some Mellotron. One of the more interesting songs on the album. Some trumpet-like sounds from the Moog. More sitar. Good harmony vocals which remind me of the early Bee-Gees. Almost a Spanish flavour to the music, especially the acoustic guitar playing. Love the build- up at the end with the military drumming, Mellotron and Moog soloing. Sweet.

The last two songs are accessible and even poppy. Different to the rest of the album but still folky. "I'll Carry On Beside You" could have been a single, don't know if it was or not. The vocals on the album are shared by Cousins and Hudson/Ford, who would make a name for themselves after they left the group in 1973. A very good album from the turn of the decade. I'll give this a 3.5 rounded it up to 4 stars.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The sole studio album featuring Rick Wakeman as a full member of the band (he appeared on Dragonfly, but only in a guest spot), the album enjoys a wide range of moods, from the bleak and oppressive subject matter of religious persecution in The Hangman and the Papist to the hopeful and uplifting final song I'll Carry On Beside You.

Although Wakeman does get a few opportunities to really break loose on the keyboards, mainly he's here for support and texture rather than as a soloist, so it's no surprise that he'd jump ship for Yes later. But the material here is sufficiently engaging and well-performed by the other Strawbs to be of interest to prog folk fans even if Wakeman's contribution is discounted.

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars The first of five classic Strawbs studio releases, 'From the Witchwood' also marked the beginning of numerous lineup changes for the band as well as the first appearance of Rick Wakeman as an official member of the group (not including their 1970 live release). While he played on 'Dragonfly' his presence there was fairly muted, at least compared to his contributions on 'Witchwood'. Richard Hudson and John Ford also took up places in the group, coming to the Strawbs as a self-contained rhythm section from Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera. String bassist Ron Chesterman was the third band member to depart prior to this release, following in the footsteps of brief tours by the late Sandy Denny and cellist Clair Deniz who appeared on the group's first and third studio efforts, respectively.

Wakeman made an immediate impact as a full-fledged member, serving as the catalyst for their transition from a solidly folk-leaning band to something much more akin to British prog rockers like Jethro Tull (musically) or Gnidrolog (thematically). The organ bleats that launch the opening track "A Glimpse of Heaven" signal a significant shift despite the liberal use otherwise of acoustic instrumentation, harmonized folksy vocals and ethereal lyrical themes throughout the first half of the record. The combination of Dave Cousins banjo and Wakeman's soaring keyboards midway through this song are unlike anything the band had done prior, and must have appealed to their audiences as the album became their first studio Top-40 in the U.K. (as was the prior live release, also prominently featuring Wakeman). Rick would of course bolt the group shortly after the release to take up his place in Yes, but for the time being this was a real heyday for the Strawbs.

As with most Strawbs albums the songs and lyrics are almost exclusively the creation of Cousins. Hudson and Ford contributed three songs ("Thirty Days", "Flight" and "Canon Dale") all of which fit pretty well despite being a bit more somber and electric than most of what Cousins wrote for the group, though the most rocking tune on the album ("Sheep") was in fact a Cousins composition that heavily featured Ford and Hudson's rhythms and Wakeman's varied keyboard contributions including organ, Mellotron and Moog. Cousins also wrote "I'll Carry on Beside You" which comes off as an almost anthematic pub rocker despite the intricate guitar work.

Hudson also introduced his sitar to the band, most notably on his own song "Canon Dale" which gave the band an acid-folk like tune to their credit and likely some ideas about future instrumental experimentation, especially given the surge in popularity for the instrument around the same time.

I personally have a soft spot for "Canon Dale" on this album with it's understated, almost soft-rock mood, and also for the acoustic ballad "In Amongst the Roses" even if it was somewhat of a step backward for the group musically. Cousins certainly understood the strengths of his lineup and leveraged all their skills on this track including Wakeman (piano) without anyone in particular dominating. That sound of course was already falling out of favor in the music industry though, and the band would rapidly move away from acoustic meandering on subsequent releases.

While there are no mega-hits on this record (the only single "Witchwood" was withdrawn due to quality problems), 'From the Witchwood' still represents the most complete and consistent record for the band to this point. Better would come but props must be given for a solid, professional performance and no notable filler. Four stars might be a tad too high but ranked against their first three records (which are all decent) this one needs a bump to distinguish it, so four stars it is and well recommended.


Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This Strawbs record consists mostly of gentle folk music with progressive leanings. It is a nice album but generally forgettable.

'Glimpse of Heaven' A pleasant acoustic guitar and organ-led passage opens the album. In pace, tone, and vocals, it bears a striking resemblance to Cat Stevens.

'Witchwood' Adopting a Gaelic feel with a variety of acoustic instruments, this is an enjoyable, more traditional, moodier piece.

'Thirty Days' Hearkening back a few years to the mid-1960s, 'Thirty Days,' a chipper pop tune, will sit well with fans of The Beatles, particularly those who like George Harrison's Indian-inspired digressions.

'Flight' Fluid vocal harmonies, light acoustic guitar, and occasionally jaunty piano make for some easy listening in the vein of Simon & Garfunkel.

'The Hangman and the Papist' Someone may be tempted to think thus far that the contributions of a young Rick Wakeman were mostly superficial, just filling out the sound. However, his skills are not underused; they respectfully take a backseat to permit the light folk music to breathe- but not on this piece. He adds a number of organ runs that demonstrate what a budding keyboardist he was. Otherwise, this song features a marching drum and music similar to what has come before.

'Sheep' After a number of gentler folk pieces, the band takes on a truly progressive rock approach here, with discordant vocals, heavier guitars, and an abundance of organ flourishes. This could have easily appeared on Nursery Cryme or Foxtrot by Genesis.

'Canon Dale' This distinctively progressive folk piece offers morose vocals and keyboard passages that truly complement the overall song. The sitar is a dominant instrument here.

'The Shepherd's Song' Strawbs return to more traditional folk music, but put a Middle Eastern spin on it. Dave Cousins vocal performances ranges from peacefully sweet America-like harmonies over major seventh chords to nasal intensity.

'In Amongst the Roses' This dirge-like piece remains melancholic and quiet throughout, offering delicate acoustic guitar phrases with soft, sad singing.

'I'll Carry on Beside You' The album closes with a straightforward folk rocker containing what I believe is the sole proper electric guitar solo on the entire record.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An album of rich sound that has a delightful feel of coming from a far distant age or land, but much of it's beauty is marred by slightly odd sound engineering (levels of the various instruments with regards to the vocals--Rick Wakeman almost always relegated to a distant room somewhere in the basement). At the same time, there's a TRAFFIC "John Barleycorn" feel to a lot of this. On the positive side, this is perhaps the album that feels most closely aligned with true folk music traditions (despite several songs sounding as if they came from Beatles albums ["Thirty Days" (9/10) and "Flight" (8.5/10) "Cannondale" (8.25/10)). Seņor Wakeman gets to shine in little ways, mostly with his organ, especially with "The Hangman and the Papist" (8.75/10), the Argent-like "Sheep" (8.5/10), the free play beneath "Cannondale." I like the gentle, more folk-sounding songs like "In Amongst the Roses" (9/10), "Witchwood" (8.75/10), and the opener, "A Glimpse of Heaven" (8.75/10), though not so much the Jefferson Airplane-like "The Shepherd's Song" (8/10). Plus, I have to admit that I do enjoy the two Beatles-like songs.

A solid four star album that is certainly pleasurable and interesting--though not quite on a level, IMHO, with Ghosts or even Grave New World and not as memorable as Hero and Heroine.

Review by ALotOfBottle
4 stars After delicate, feminine and primarily acoustic Dragonfly, Strawbs pushed the boundaries of their style further. They recruited Rick Wakeman as a full-time keyboardist. Although he did appear on the band's previous release, he was listed as a guest musician and his parts rather served a purpose of a musical seasoning. In addition, two new members joined the band, namely Richard Hudson on drums and a sitar and John Ford on bass guitar.

Strawbs' musical extract on From The Witchwood consists of a suprsisingly wide plethora of influences. Building on Brtiain's folk music traditions, Strawbs incorporate elements of Irish folk music, Scottish plainsongs and even some ambitious Indian raga bits. Some of the pieces have a heavier folk rock feeling to them. The band makes fantatstic use of traditional English instruments such as a banjo, a dulcimer and a recorder. All of this is supported by Rick Wakeman's pastoral and liturgical organ sensibilities. However, it doesn't end there with his keyboards. Wakeman introduces (at that time still fairly unknown) a Moog synthesizer, a harpsichord and a celesta. All of this provides a great musical variety, which I often fail to find in folk rock. Lyrically, this work is also top-notch. The lyrics are very moody, many of which bring old shanties and traditional themes to mind. From The Witchwood consists of ten songs plus one bonus track, all fairly short, kept under five minutes. I find "Thirty Days", "The Hangman And The Papist" and "Sheep" to be three pieces, which are the most representative of the album, which express the album's eclecticism in a nutshell.

All in all, I consider this to be a very accomplished and revolutionary release, which marks the beggining of Strawbs' "progressive" folk era. A very unique and one-of-a-kind album and Strawbs' best work in my opinion. Highly recommended. Four stars!

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 193

"From The Witchwood" is the third studio album of Strawbs and was released in 1971. This is a landmark for the band. It represents a transitional phase on the sound of their music and a search for their definitive sound, from a bluegrass group to a progressive folk rock band. It represents a huge step forward from their two previous studio albums, too.

The line up on the album is Dave Cousins (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, dulcimer, banjo and recorder), Tony Hooper (vocals, acoustic guitar, autoharp and tambourine), Rick Wakeman (piano, organ, celeste, mellotron, moog synthesiser, clavinet and harpsichord), John Ford (vocals and bass guitar) and Richard Hudson (vocals, drums and sitar). It's also the only studio album to feature Wakeman in the band's line up, before he joined to Yes. However, Wakeman had featured on their previous and first live album "Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious" too, and had also performed as a session musician on their second studio album "Dragonfly".

"From The Witchwood" has ten tracks. The first track "A Glimpse Of Heaven" written by Cousins is a brilliant song and an excellent open for the album. It's my second favourite song on the album and is a song where the band develops their musical atmosphere all over the album. This is a powerful song where the organ is played like a church organ and the vocals are performed like choruses. The song also contains an excellent example of Wakeman's keyboard talents. The second track "Witchwood" written by Cousins is a very calm and beautiful song in the style of the medieval and Celtic music. It has a wonderful pastoral melody that can catch the attention of everybody. This is a very different song from the previous one, because it presents more folk elements on it, and it's also more secret and mysterious. It's also one of the highlights of the album. The third track "Thirty Days" written by Ford is a song very close to The Beatles, and curiously, even the vocals are similar to them. It's a typical folk acoustic song, very simple and nice but, it has nothing special and is also, in my humble opinion, one of the weakest songs on the album. The fourth track "Flight" written by Hudson is a very calm and peaceful acoustic ballad without anything special to speak about, except the interesting Cousin's guitar work and Wakeman's piano, in the end. It's the second weakest point on the album. The fifth track "The Hangman And The Papist" written by Cousins is, on the contrary, the strongest point on the album. It's a very powerful song also with powerful and dramatic lyrics and is, for sure, the most progressive of all. On the song the music goes in crescendo in order to create the dramatic effects described on the lyrics and suddenly ends when the prisoner dies. Here we have a brilliant keyboard performance by Wakeman and the reason why he was invited to be part of Yes. I think we can consider this a perfect masterpiece. The sixth track "Sheep" written by Cousins is a less folk song compared with the other songs on the album and is more composed in a psychedelic style. It's a very good song and once more Wakeman continues inspired and to impresses. This song represents another good musical moment on the album. The seventh track "Canon Dale" written by Hudson is the return to the folk but it has also some psychedelic effects made by the sitar. It's a song with nice harmonies and very pleasant to listen to, but once more, I think that it no represents one of the best moments on the album. The eighth track "The Shepherd's Song" written by Cousins is another great song and represents also one of the best moments on the album. It's a song perfectly balanced with all musical instruments. The song has excellent keyboard performance. Especially the piano and mellotron are particularly enjoyable to listen to. I think we can consider that this song incorporates influences of the Hispanic music. The ninth track "In Amongst The Roses" written by Cousins is a beautiful and typical acoustic folk ballad of him. It has a very melancholic vocal duet between Cousins and Hooper and is a return to visit their almost pure folk first two studio albums. It has also a slight country feel and is very pleasant and calm to listen to. The tenth track "I'll Carry On Beside You" written by Cousins is another great folk tune where we can feel the power of the vocals and the instruments in general. It's a song that sounds more like a typical classic country folk song that we can listen to on the radio. But, this is a very nice song too.

Conclusion: "From The Witchwood" is a great album that combines perfectly well the folk with symphonic progressive rock music. It's also a very interesting and enjoyable album to listen to and represents a major step forward in their musical career. "From The Witchwood" is musically a very varied album with many different influences such as folk, country, rock and psychedelic music, although it isn't always progressive. Sincerely, I think that isn't a bad thing. We can't forget that this is a transitional album and the next studio album "Grave New World" is, in my humble opinion, a truly progressive album. "From The Witchwood" finds the band exploring new pallets of colours and starts their migration to a major prog folk band. It's also the album which allowed the migration of Wakeman to other higher flights.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

5 stars The Strawbs at their absolute best. In this album, they begin to take a more serious step into progressive rock without abandoning their folksy spirit, introducing harder, more complex melodies mainly thanks to Rick Wakeman, whose keyboard work is immaculate (see Papist, Sheep and Shepherd's Song). ... (read more)

Report this review (#2973914) | Posted by El_autista_Hans | Wednesday, December 13, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars From The Witchwood by Strawbs is the fourth studio album by the English band Strawbs that came out in 1971. What drew me to was that Rick Wakeman from the band Yes played piano and keyboard on the album, and he of course puts on a stellar performance. In fact everyone in the band puts on a stell ... (read more)

Report this review (#2507770) | Posted by Lieutenant_Lan | Monday, February 22, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Some Iconic Strawbs Songs. One of the Strawbs' most-loved albums, this album sees the band moving into rock while still keeping their feet in the folk pool. Rick Wakeman is now an official member, and he is given a few short bursts of brilliance to show off (in "Sheep" and at the beginning of "Ha ... (read more)

Report this review (#1697656) | Posted by Walkscore | Tuesday, February 28, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As classic prog has come to be signified by it's overuse of synths and mellotrons, of which the Strawbs themselves were to be soon to be guilty, From The Witchwood remains incredibly fresh, unique and wonderfully enigmatic. The second album to feature Rick Wakeman and his first studio outing fin ... (read more)

Report this review (#1691248) | Posted by SteveG | Friday, February 10, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A band that I love a great deal. This is a good work full of moods and lyrical as well as musical landscapes. There's just something about "Strawbs" music that resonates with me very strongly. I'm not always a Rick Wakeman fan but I enjoy his contribution here very much. After this album with the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1023051) | Posted by sukmytoe | Sunday, August 25, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A glimpse of Heaven. Could I say something else? "From The Witchwood" is an excellent album, really! It includes only relatively short songs (short yes, but very well refined and absolutely no commercial) characterized by the use of a mostly acoustic instrumentation (including not only guitar ... (read more)

Report this review (#773236) | Posted by Dark Nazgul | Monday, June 18, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars From The Witchwood is third released album from Strawbs. It contains 10 track and it writes on the web pages of the band that they had some kind of musical differences creating this album which made Hudson, Ford and Cousins to argue about selection of tracks for the album.First one "A Glimpse O ... (read more)

Report this review (#515985) | Posted by Archangel | Monday, September 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is an excellent album from the prog folk genre. 'From The Witchwood' treats us to a range of songs with different moods and styles from the stunningly joyous "A Glimpse of Heaven" through the sensual "Shepherd's Song" and the poignant, melodic "In Amongst the Roses". There are plenty of ... (read more)

Report this review (#438385) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Sunday, April 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars When the Strawbs released this killer, the quintet with Rick Wakeman on board was already a strong live unit. The album demonstrates the strength of this line up - the dynamics between the acoustic and the electric without sounding strained. It opens with the two lovely and in a way mysterious ... (read more)

Report this review (#250119) | Posted by Dr Pripp | Thursday, November 12, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After having to review the bitterly disapointing turkey called The Collection, I promised myself and a guy on PM to come back again with a more representative The Strawbs album. I am now keeping this promise. From the opening of Glimpse Of Heaven, I am transfixed by this mix of church music, ... (read more)

Report this review (#204751) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, March 1, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars More like 3.5 stars. As much as I enjoy folk, this album just doesn't seem to deserve 4 stars from me. Maybe in time I will enjoy it more, but for now, it's not a necessary purchase by any means. A Glimpse of Heaven - This track has a church-sounding organ with simple vocals. It has a repetitiv ... (read more)

Report this review (#184287) | Posted by YesFan72 | Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 8.8/10 Great Whoa! The jump is being made, for sure, from simple folk rock melodic songs to a more prog-rock take on things. This, for me, means somewhat of a struggle in finding a new sound, but for such an astounding band there is still brilliance all over this album. And by God Tony Ho ... (read more)

Report this review (#148386) | Posted by The Lost Chord | Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The term "folk" normally fills me with dread...all those Morris men and hey nonny no's....but I have to admit to being taken with this album. It's subtle and exhibits moments of delicacy and also of real passion. "Glimpse of Heaven" which opens paints an evocative picture of the English countr ... (read more)

Report this review (#79535) | Posted by Phil | Saturday, May 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of their very best albums. The first song "A glimpse of heaven" sets the standard, with sweeping 12 string guitar, church organ (and in the middle, a banjo interlude) A really lovely song about a monk' s vision of heaven. David Cousins' songs are always a pleasure, the highlight here is the ... (read more)

Report this review (#63844) | Posted by brainway | Monday, January 9, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The fourth work released in 1971 "From The Witchwood". The first studio album produced after Rick Wakeman is received in formal member. The performance of his keyboard brought a classical drive feeling to the traditional folk. It is a masterpiece that overflows in a light feeling though is bas ... (read more)

Report this review (#60452) | Posted by braindamage | Friday, December 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Sadly, I am just now discovering this band. On the other hand, it's also great to discover a band you heard of but had never listened to. The Strawbs are another great band who released a lot of good music but for whom the record companies seemingly never cared if the American public knew it ... (read more)

Report this review (#19704) | Posted by | Sunday, January 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars the finest blend of British folk-Rock with a Symphonic tuch. all the band member co-operate in writing, playing,and, singing (except, of course, Wakeman). Beautiful vocal harmonies, Great use of traditional acoustic and modern electric instruments and above all: sensative and exciting lyricism by ... (read more)

Report this review (#19699) | Posted by | Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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