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PROG FOLK

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Folk definition

In the wake of the 60's, 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 "Chansoniers" 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 THE 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, THE TREES, SPIROGYRA, FOREST, the superb JAN DUKES DE GREY (all listed in the ProgArchives) but also TRADER HORNE, TUDOR LODGE, FOTHERINGAY, MAGNA CARTA, TIR NA NOG (all of whom could also be in the ProgArchives) 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 77's Songs From The Woods and 78'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, WITTHEUSER & 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 EL CONGRESSO (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 Chansoniers 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 RIBEIRO ALPS, 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

Current Team as of January 1, 2015

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 | 2899 ratings
THICK AS A BRICK
Jethro Tull
4.33 | 2252 ratings
AQUALUNG
Jethro Tull
4.17 | 1226 ratings
SONGS FROM THE WOOD
Jethro Tull
4.21 | 276 ratings
ALTURAS DE MACHU PICCHU
Jaivas, Los
4.14 | 468 ratings
FIRST UTTERANCE
Comus
4.14 | 530 ratings
RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE
Gryphon
4.15 | 272 ratings
HERO AND HEROINE
Strawbs
4.18 | 186 ratings
MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT
Jan Dukes De Grey
4.15 | 281 ratings
GRAVE NEW WORLD
Strawbs
4.34 | 64 ratings
ERWARTUNG
Eden
4.18 | 170 ratings
ST. RADIGUNDS
Spirogyra
4.05 | 1072 ratings
STAND UP
Jethro Tull
4.43 | 37 ratings
LUCAS
Araujo, Marco Antonio
4.07 | 262 ratings
THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
Decemberists, The
4.14 | 114 ratings
BELLS, BOOTS AND SHAMBLES
Spirogyra
4.03 | 998 ratings
HEAVY HORSES
Jethro Tull
4.15 | 103 ratings
BASKET OF LIGHT
Pentangle, The
4.02 | 1272 ratings
A PASSION PLAY
Jethro Tull
4.02 | 1039 ratings
MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY
Jethro Tull
4.13 | 104 ratings
EZEKIEL
Itoiz

Prog Folk overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Prog Folk experts team

GEOFFROY
Emeraude
THE WATERS OF SWEET SORROW
Midwinter
VALHEISTA KAUNEIN
Scarlet Thread
THE WITCHING HOUR
Yoke Shire

Latest Prog Folk Music Reviews


 A Passion Play: An Extended Perfomance by JETHRO TULL album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2014
4.90 | 52 ratings

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A Passion Play: An Extended Perfomance
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by Tapfret
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Issue #100

A Passion Play on the P-Word
An Extended Performance?

Now Pretentiousser!

Ah, here we are. The prized prey of 1973's pompous and paradoxically pedantic pundits of pop critique, A Passion Play. The preeminent work in the prog paradigm of conceptual long-plays, it was poked, prodded and universally panned as prohibitively ponderous. These professional persecutors of pastoral pursuits, with egos as pumped up as Pink Floyd's inflated prop pigs, snuffled their protuberant probosces in paraphrase:
'Who is this pipe-playing pranceabout with a proclivity toward perplexity? A pox on he! HE IS PRETENTIOUS! PRETENTIOUS, I SAY! ....oh praise be my vocabulary, I should procure an augmented percentage payment for my perspicacity. *tsk tsk*'

Poppycock!

Even if belated, the positive prospects of the play's fans would not be put out. Here, and now, a palliative presentation on four pristine plastic platters of digitized programmes. Packaged with the fabled Chateau d'Herouville sessions, the precursor to A Passion Play, the re-mastered source is propagated with improvements. Shall we dispense with the preamble and proceed?

Who could possibly protest the pronouncement that A Passion Play, this prosaic conceptual picture of a poor young souls demise presented in thespian parlance, stands as a pinnacle of progressive rock? As prefaced, many would. But let us not ponder further the failed placation of the pop plutocracy. Let us instead plow forward to how perfection could be further polished. Enter the patriarch of Porcupine: prog's prodigal prince of post- production, one Steven Wilson. Mixing to the standard pentangle of sonic projection ...point one. The encompassing sounds paint the play in hues of polychromasia that create additional pyretic layers of character to the seemingly polydactyl pressing of keys and strings. This plussing is no more evident than in the bounding bookend parts to the play's intermission, Forest Dance #1 and #2. Additionally, it has come to light that we were pinched of 50 some-odd seconds of verse on Foot of Our Stairs, until now.

The package also contains a peak into the band's pragmatic fiscal pilgrimage as potential ex-patriots to the palace proximal to Paris, Chateau d'Herouville. Was this possibly a peaceful place to practice and record? Alas, our players would be plagued with problems. First their place of sleep was infested with parasitic pests. But most problematic was the pabulum induced peristaltic pathology that progressed to peritoneal rumbling to the party's participants. Nonetheless the band plugged away at their project, their perseverance punished by having it hidden away from posterity. The product has familiarity, no doubt. Many passages ported to the eventual final A Passion Play release, while Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day would later be a pop-chart resident. Like the title discs, The Chateau d'Herouville Sessions are presented on both re-mastered CD and DVD featuring DTS 5.1 mix.

The parade continues with a booklet with pages of paragraphs on the history and pre-history of this profoundly wondrous work. The story of the previously summarized Chateau sessions is contained within along with discussion of the remix process by Steven Wilson, interviews past and present, and tour photos.

And if that was not enough, a live ballet performance of the greatest moment in progressive rock history, The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles!

The purveyors of enhanced media have properly palpated the pulse of this progger. This was no passive undertaking. 5 stars before. Now, 5 stars more.

Perfection.

 Jethro Tull - The String Quartets by ANDERSON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2017
2.62 | 12 ratings

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Jethro Tull - The String Quartets
Ian Anderson Prog Folk

Review by BarryGlibb

2 stars Did we really need this? Maybe; but then again, probably not. I was intrigued a little...just a little. So I bought the CD thinking that I can listen to a string quartet arrangement of some Tull classics without too much input from Mr Anderson...how wrong I was.

You would think that Ian would let the String Quartet do its own thing? But no; IA couldn't help himself and had to "stick his bib in" and do overdubs with flute (not so bad) and his recently (i.e. 1987!) acquired appalling vocals on 6 of the 12 tracks. Listen to me Ian..... "YOU DID NOT NEED TO OVERDUB YOUR VOCALS ON THIS RELEASE, IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE A STRING QUARTET ALBUM!!!!!!"

This release might have been a winner if Ando (baby) had abandoned the idea of overdubbing his horrific vocals......Steven Wilson to the rescue in 2057 with the 5.1 Surround Sound 5CD and 2DVD 40th Anniversary Auditorium Edition, minus vocal and flute overdubs!

After the track "Pass The Bottle" had finished, the only thing that came out of my mouth was the word "atrocious". Honestly!

The only really, really good thing on this CD is "Songs and Horses" ...brilliant! Oh, guess what? No vocals on that track!

2 stars out of 5.

 Sight Of Day by MOSTLY AUTUMN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.83 | 33 ratings

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Sight Of Day
Mostly Autumn Prog Folk

Review by javajeff

4 stars This is their best album with Olivia Sparnenn on vocals, and an excellent album to compete with Heather Findley era material. I enjoy the last four albums with Olivia Sparnenn, but Sight of Day has the band hitting on all cylinders. Olivia gives an excellent vocal performance that is soft, sincere, and full of heart. Musically, this is likely the most proggy of the last four releases anchored with many long tracks starting with the 14 minute Sight of Day. For fans of Mostly Autumn, this is a must of course. With excellent musicianship and solid songwriting, there is something for everyone. Of course it would not be a Mostly Autumn album without many terrific guitar solos. I also enjoy the vibe with Bryan Josh on vocals as it provides variety for the album. Dressed in Voices was a very good album, but I prefer the longer song format in Sight of Day.
 Live At Nearfest by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2005
3.65 | 7 ratings

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Live At Nearfest
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars To come to full circle with the classic Hero And Heroine and Ghosts line up of the Strawbs, this 2004 headlining concert for NEARfest reunites the Strawbs with the great John Hawken. Returning with Hawken was his magical Mellotron with tapes borrowed from fellow Mellotron master and ex Moody Blues' Keyboardist Mike Pinder. Talk about prog royalty. And with the Strawbs focusing on four cuts from H&H, along with other assorted prog antiques and curios, a good time was had by all.

What really makes this particular concert stand out, aside from the band bringing their A game, was that Dave Cousins' voice was still effective at this stage and had very good range, albeit a tad deeper with just a touch of croakiness. This was to change quickly as the 2004 progressed up until the present day where Cousins rusty rasp has become too grating at times. So, take this rare gem for what it's worth. Cousins in good voice with inspired singing as well as inspired playing by Dave Lambert, Chas Cronk, Rod Coombes, and the already mentioned John Hawken who also dazzles on some mind blowing and very bass heavy (for a live recording) synth tones. Excellent recording, mixing, and song selection puts this live archive in the 4 star range.

 Ghosts by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.03 | 147 ratings

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Ghosts
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

5 stars A brief cacophony of harpsichord notes dissolves quickly into one of the signature melodies of the Strawbs' progressive knockout titled "Ghosts", and we're off to listen to the last great prog album from this seminal 70's prog act. Where singer and songwriter Dave Cousins took us all on an introspective journey with the band's previously released prog classic Hero And Heroine, Cousins returns to more topical subjects before giving us one last glimpse into his psyche. And what could be more introspective than a nightmare about a visitation from a weathered angel with "eye's a bloody red"? It's the magnificent music conjured up by the exact same musicians that gave us the Strawbs' last classic (a rare occurrence for this band) that gives us the searing impressions of Hell that Mr. Cousins' implores us never to see. Yes, the three part "Ghosts", apart from being so incredibly melodic and atmospheric, just moves the prog song goalposts a little farther and is one of the few title tracks that's actually worthy of the honor.

To back track a bit, Hero And Heroine was recorded by a very different line up from the group's successful UK hit album Bursting At The Seams, and was all the stronger for it. By strange Strawb's fortune, this line up remained intact long enough to record "Ghosts" before uber keyboardist John Hawken went off to reform a variant of his early UK band, Renaissance, which they titled Illusion, after the title of the early Renaissance band's second album.

Hawken tones down his space age synth sounds on Ghosts and stays with more orchestral sounds generated from his icy Mellotron, organ, pianos and harpsichords. Guitarist Dave Lambert takes on more lead work or counter melodies with with his always deft and atmospheric guitar, and the man can shift from a country hoedown to Who-like bombast while always fitting in perfectly with the music. Bassist Chas Cronk is more melodic this time around while drummer Rod Coombes comes close to sounding like an octopus with his busy fills and inventive rhythms.

But it's Cousins that really sells the album with superb pop rock on "Lemon Pie" and the quirky "Where Do You Go (When You Need A Hole To Crawl Into), the moving ballads "Remembering/ You And I (When We Were Young) and "Grace Darling", the album closer which features both a full choir and magnificent church organ. Sandwiched around these classic songs are more prog fests such as "Starshine/Angel Wine" and the breathtaking two part suite called "The Life Auction", which seems to summon more ghostly specters to visit you on this album.

Producer/engineer Tom Allom also returns from the previous outing to help give Ghosts another dynamic full sounding production, while cleverly dodging any attempts to do a Phil Spector and reduce the sound to a claustrophobic fog. The sound of Ghosts is as clear as a bell while being very much in your face. No small feat either. Another 5 star album that starts off with a bang and goes out with one as well.

 Hero And Heroine by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.15 | 272 ratings

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Hero And Heroine
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

5 stars In the quest to determine what separates atypical prog from the stereotypical prog sounds that have come to define the sub genre of symphonic prog, one has to look past the musical surface. Yes, Hero and Heroine contains a multi suite song complete with an opening Mellotron fest that would make former KC member Ian McDonald envious, as well as other symphonic touches courtesy of John Hawken's piano and synths. Cleaver and deft electric guitar is delivered from Dave Lambert while Chas Cronk adds his ever melodious bass lines and accents to the mix. Drummer Rod Coombes keeps the fore mentioned from becoming a sleepwalk with his solid rock drumming that's never flashy but always hits the spot both musically and metaphorically.

But there's something special that stands out about Hero And Heroine. It's not a concept album, but it feels like one with it's references to a Silver Sun, a Midnight Sun, and the feeling of "autumn coming on..." from the previously mentioned three song suite titled "Autumn". And that's not a trick of the mind.

Songwriter and vocalist Dave Cousins wrote a cycle of songs about his emotional exploits and explorations over a single day. And they, not surprisingly, are quite like ours. From the chilly doom of feeling the season's change and life with it, to pining over a lost love, to the excitement of a new sexual discovery, Dave Cousins' feelings are ours. We can relate. We love, we lose, we regret. Yet, we live on.

Is this then the benchmark for a prog masterpiece? Not if you talk in maths. But if you live easily with emotions and can relate to another's tale of what it encompasses for all of us to be the hero and heroine of our own lives, then the Strawbs' classic 1974 album Hero and Heroine reaches that benchmark and easily surpasses it. As disparaging as Dave Cousins would find this comparison, he is the Bob Dylan of prog rock, and Hero and Heroine contains his finest work. A wonderfully lush production helps to send the album even higher. I can say no more as the words would fail me. 5 stars.

 Uncanny Tales from the Everyday Undergrowth by SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2005
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Uncanny Tales from the Everyday Undergrowth
Soft Hearted Scientists Prog Folk

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars Welsh band SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS first appeared back in 2004, and following some initial EP's their first full length album "Uncanny Tales from the Everyday Undergrowth" (a compilation of their first three EPs) appeared in 2005: In 2016 the band decided to reissue this production as a double album, the second CD in the package consisting of the home demo recordings of the original album.

Soft Hearted Scientists made a favorable impression among many listeners and reviewers when this album first appeared back in 2005, and as far as I'm concerned, this is a production that comes across as a strong and compelling album also 12 years later. Those with an affection for the gentlest aspects of progressive rock, and one with a firm orientation towards folk music, acoustic rock and '60s psychedelic pop, should feel compelled to check out this band in general and this album in particular.

 Aqualung by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.33 | 2252 ratings

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Aqualung
Jethro Tull Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead

5 stars Review Nş 111

'Aqualung' is the fourth studio album of Jethro Tull and was released in 1971. The album is divided into two distinct parts. The first part 'Aqualung' contains a series of themes with six characters, including individuals of questionable reputation and two autobiographical passages. The second part 'My God' contains a message that is generally described as 'pro-God but anti-church', and says that organized religion can actually restrict a person's relationship with his God, instead of improving it. The album had a kind of a split concept where the first side featured songs about poor people and social differences, while the second side was about the problems and evil of organized religion.

The band's lead singer and songwriter Ian Anderson was surprised by the critical reaction to 'Aqualung'. The critics said that 'Aqualung' was a conceptual album, a label he firmly rejected. He said that the album was just a collection of songs and nothing more than that. With their following studio album 'Thick As A Brick', the band set out to create a work that deliberately integrated around one concept, 'the mother of all conceptual albums', such as Anderson said once in an interview, in response to those who deliberately maintained that 'Aqualung' was a conceptual album.

'Aqualung' was recorded at the same time and in the same studio, in Island Studios in December 1970, with the fourth studio album of Led Zeppelin. While recording a section of the album's title song 'Aqualung', lead guitarist Martin Barre was moved to impress his counterpart, Jimmy Page and laid down a solo that was totally unorthodox for his style. The result is now an indelible part of Jethro Tull's legacy, as 'Aqualung' the song and 'Aqualung' the album, are among their most famous musical works, undoubtedly. This little example of Barre's guitar work is one of the things that, for better or for worse, make of 'Aqualung' one of the most unusual (top-notch) albums in all rock history.

'Aqualung' has eleven tracks. All tracks were written and composed by Ian Anderson, except the first track 'Aqualung' that was written and composed by Ian Anderson and Jennie Anderson, his first wife. The first track 'Aqualung', who gave its name to the album is without any doubt the best song on the album and is also, in my opinion, one of the best Jethro Tull's songs. It's a very well known song, heavy and dark, with acoustic elements. This is a perfect song to open this album. The second track 'Cross-Eyed Mary' is also one of the great songs on the album and makes a perfect sequence with the first song. This is a classic Jethro Tull's piece of music with a strong classic rock vein. The third track 'Cheap Day Return' is one of the shortest songs on the album. It's a very beautiful acoustic guitar song, one of the best I've heard. The fourth track 'Mother Goose' is another great song by the band. It's also another classic Jethro Tull's song and one of the best known. It's a nice acoustic folkie melodic oriented song. The fifth track 'Wond'ring Aloud' is the second short song of the album. Like the first, it's also a nice ballad, but this time with acoustic guitar and piano, and is very well orchestrated. The sixth track 'Up To Me' is a song with some interesting moments, but no more than that. Sincerely, besides being the last song of the 'Aqualung' part is also, in my opinion, the weakest song on that part. The seventh track 'My God' is also a great song with cynical and critical lyrics and with beautiful flute parts. Musically, is a song with some complexity and we can notice some more progressive elements than in the most of the albums. The eighth track 'Hymn 43' is a typical and good rock song with powerful riffs and with good combination of piano and flute. The ninth track 'Slipstream' is the third track on 'My God' and the last small song on the album. It's a nice acoustic ballad with a good orchestration. The tenth track 'Locomotive Breath' is another Jethro Tull's legendary track with great piano, guitar and flute works. It's my favourite song on the second part of the record and it's also with 'Aqualung', 'Cross-Eyed Mary' and 'My God', one of the best tracks on the album. The eleventh and last track 'Wind Up' is a great rocking and exciting song of the album. This is a very good way to finish this incredible cult album.

Conclusion: I have 'Aqualung' in my vinyl collection since the 70's. There are so many classic songs on this album like 'Aqualung', 'Locomotive Breath' and 'My God'. But songs like 'Cross-Eyed Mary', 'Mother Goose' and 'Hymn 43' are immediately recognized as well. It's really hard to believe that all this music comes from the singular mind of only a man, Anderson. This was Jethro Tull's first mega-hit album and the one that really broke them all over the world. Deservedly, it's now considered as one of the best prog albums of 1971. This is a very innovating album, filled with hard rock, folk and progressive rock influences all around. The contrast of songs is amazing and each track is very different. If you don't know this album yet, it will stick in your head for weeks. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite albums of all time. If you consider yourself a true classic rock fan, you must own this album. Or if you have any self-respect for your musical taste at all, buy this album. This is really a masterpiece, a must hear album for all progressive rock fans.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Bursting At The Seams by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.56 | 139 ratings

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Bursting At The Seams
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars The Strawbs took a temporary break from prog, or at least were not as prog focused, on Bursting At The Seams. Still the album has so many typical prog motifs that it almost doesn't matter. The album's first successful single in the UK "Lay Down" could be considered "Benedictus" in a hard rocking mode with Derrick "Blue" Weaver's Mellotron supplying string, organ and choir settings that mix perfectly with both Dave Cousins' electric rhythm guitar and new boy Dave Lambert's smoking leads. With lyrics based on the 23rd psalm and the only hit song to ever feature Mellotron choir, it is far from a typical "pop song" of it's day. Or any day.

But "Lay Down" is the original album's penultimate track, so we have to start at the beginning. Lead off track "Flying" is a dreamy Cousins composition with more of Weaver's Mellotron accompaniment and some good old fashioned banjo from Mr. Cousins, and is a perfect set up for the Hudson and Ford penned masterpiece "Lady Fuschia", which features gorgeous vocal harmonies from Richard Hudson and John Ford and tasteful lead guitar from Lambert. The Cousins' song "Stormy Down" is a mid tempo rocker that doesn't come off well and is one of the album's three weak links. Fortunately, it is followed by the Strawbs' first true prog epic "The River/Down By The Sea" which is truly full blown symphonic prog utilizing real orchestral backing to supplement Weaver's and Lambert's stunning multi tracked piano and guitar riffing on the song's coda, again climaxing with more Mellotron choir from Weaver. The two songs were originally split up and inverted on the original vinyl releases due to the needle jumping if "Down By The Sea" was the album's last track. Subsequent CD reissues have remedied this problem and we can now hear both songs in the proper order in all of their glory.

The sing along hit "Part Of The Union" originally started off side two of the album much like George Harrison's "With In You, Without You" started off side two of Sgt. Pepper's. A weak song that really fit nowhere on the album, so the better to get it done and over with. The mournful "Tears" segues beautifully into the faux Flamenco tinged acoustic and electric guitar based instrumental "Pavan" via Weaver's baroque harpsichord link. Lambert's beautiful rock ballad "The Winter And The Summer" follows before the original album closes with the infectious "Lay Down" and then a throwaway piece featuring what sounds like preschoolers murdering a song that Cousins intended to be a cute album closer titled "Thank You". It's the most embarrassing song I've ever heard recorded by the Strawbs, but with so many wonderful songs on the album, it does little to tarnish it.

The Strawbs would still not produce a 5 star masterpiece of symphonic prog until their following album Hero And Heroine, but Bursting At The Seams is a satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable listen until then.

 Nadie en Especial  by CHAC MOOL album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.16 | 25 ratings

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Nadie en Especial
Chac Mool Prog Folk

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Mexican progressive rock band Chac Mool delivered their Spanish-language debut album in 1980, `Nadie en Especial', a mix of atmospheric rock songs, sometimes enhanced with ethnic and exotic qualities, symphonic reaches and light folk elements, and it's proven to be an interesting if somewhat frustrating work! Sadly what holds the album back are Mauricio Bieletto's just serviceable vocals that are frequently a bit dreary, and there's barely a truly memorable tune to be found on the majority of the disc. The band, however, at least dowsed the entire disc in thick Mellotron and spacey synths ala bands like Eloy and Pulsar that at least make everything sound more exciting and colourful, even if it's a kind of superficial surface gloss, but they still achieve a few moments of real greatness throughout.

The wisps of fizzing electronics and machine noise around middle-eastern flavours that begins the seven minute opener `Un Mundo Feliz' almost remind of Agitation Free's first few albums, but the piece reveals itself to be a softly grooving but slightly unengaging rocker not far away from German band Jane with a touch of the Alan Parsons Project. Carlos Alvarado's plentiful swirling synths make the unremarkable song of ` En Visitante' and its unlovable group-chorus vocal that little bit more bearable, but thankfully the grander title-track `Nadie en Enspecial' offers a warmer and more urgent lead vocal, Jorge Reyes' electric guitar that broods with danger and dramatic Mellotron passages over Armando Suarez's thick bass that reminds of Eloy at their best. The intense `Salamandra' closes the first side with a droning vocal, regal Mellotron choirs and shimmering Pink Floyd-like guitar reaches, and there's a lovely passage of Jorge's drifting flute over bubbling panning spacey synth drifts.

Eastern flavours mix with airy electronics throughout Side 2's `Aymara', sounding like a mix of Kitaro and his early Far East Family Band in parts, and it includes everything from Vocoder-treated spoken word passages, reflective meditative flutes that carry a spirited folk Deuter-like quality, eerie Mellotron veils, weeping cello and even effusive Klaus Schulze-flavoured backgrounds. `El Dia en Que Murio el Rey Camaleon' has lengthy instrumental stretches across a range of tempos with plenty of extended spacey passages of wavering synths, Carlos Castro's punchy drumming, a mysterious flute interlude and even a psych-era Beatles-like chorus, wrapping on a scorching burst of Mellotron majesty. `Bienvenidos al fin del Mundo' is a sterling symphonic closer with frequent reprises of big booming Mellotron themes, although some tormented screeching in the middle is extremely intrusive and off-putting, and a bizarre fade back in after a perfect closing moment with a further abrupt cut-off is equally jarring.

Thankfully the positives far outweigh the earlier-mentioned cons on this disc, and if you're not worried too much about slightly forgettable tunes (it could be worse, there's nothing that actually screams too overly commercial or insultingly radio- aimed), then `Nadie en Especial' has much to offer, and it's one that the Mellotron freaks should especially enjoy!

Three and a half stars.

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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 ANTONIO ARAUJO 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
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
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CURRENT 93 United Kingdom
DAEMONIA NYMPHE Greece
DANCER United Kingdom
DARNAKES Greece
DAWNWIND United Kingdom
DEAD CAN DANCE Australia
DECAMERON United Kingdom
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DEMI-HEURE Canada
DETEKTIVBYRĹN Sweden
DIEGO DE MORON Spain
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DR. STRANGELY STRANGE Ireland
DULCIMER United Kingdom
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DUNWICH Italy
JUDY DYBLE United Kingdom
EDEN Germany
ELANE Germany
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
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FAUN Germany
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I FOLLI DI DIO Italy
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PTARMIGAN Canada
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QUICKSAND United Kingdom
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QUINTETO ARMORIAL Brazil
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RADA & TERNOVNIK (THE BLACKTHORN) Russia
RAGNARÖK Sweden
RAMASES United Kingdom
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SAINT JUST Italy
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NATE SCOBLE United States
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SHANNON France
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SHINE DIÓN Norway
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TERRA MYSTICA Slovenia
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U I BLUE United States
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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
ROBIN WILLIAMSON United Kingdom
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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