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PROG FOLK

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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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 | 2883 ratings
THICK AS A BRICK
Jethro Tull
4.33 | 2238 ratings
AQUALUNG
Jethro Tull
4.18 | 1219 ratings
SONGS FROM THE WOOD
Jethro Tull
4.21 | 275 ratings
ALTURAS DE MACHU PICCHU
Jaivas, Los
4.14 | 467 ratings
FIRST UTTERANCE
Comus
4.13 | 527 ratings
RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE
Gryphon
4.15 | 271 ratings
HERO AND HEROINE
Strawbs
4.18 | 186 ratings
MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT
Jan Dukes De Grey
4.15 | 280 ratings
GRAVE NEW WORLD
Strawbs
4.34 | 64 ratings
ERWARTUNG
Eden
4.18 | 170 ratings
ST. RADIGUNDS
Spirogyra
4.05 | 1066 ratings
STAND UP
Jethro Tull
4.44 | 35 ratings
LUCAS
Araujo, Marco Antonio
4.07 | 262 ratings
THE HAZARDS OF LOVE
Decemberists, The
4.14 | 113 ratings
BELLS, BOOTS AND SHAMBLES
Spirogyra
4.16 | 102 ratings
BASKET OF LIGHT
Pentangle, The
4.03 | 991 ratings
HEAVY HORSES
Jethro Tull
4.01 | 1266 ratings
A PASSION PLAY
Jethro Tull
4.02 | 1034 ratings
MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY
Jethro Tull
4.13 | 102 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

THE WITCHING HOUR
Yoke Shire
FRESH MAGGOTS
Fresh Maggots
II
Espers
MOTHER TWILIGHT
Faun Fables

Latest Prog Folk Music Reviews


 Hero And Heroine by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.15 | 271 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 symphonic prog sub genre, one has to look past the superficial 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? Of course not. 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.

 Aqualung by JETHRO TULL album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.33 | 2238 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.

 Stormcock by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.03 | 164 ratings

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Stormcock
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by poet3434

5 stars Objectively, Roy Harper's masterpiece (although he preferred HQ personally).

Perhaps the only totally consistent Roy Harper album with no bad tracks (it only has 4). It's just him in the main, with some help from Jimmy Page on "The Same old Rock", and some light orchestration from Peter Jenner on the closing epic "Me and My Woman". The opener H'or D'oerve's, and one of Roy Harper's signiture live cuts, One Man Rock and Roll Band are just Roy, doing Roy.

Everything on the record has a reason to bere there, and this is truly one of the few albums I listen to from start to finish everytime and find something new and exciting each time, even after 30 years.

This is a must have masterpiece from the most under-rated artist of the 1970s. If you enjoy, then move onto HQ, Lifemask, Valentine, Bullinamingvase and his earlier albums. I love them all, but this is without question the most special.

 Grave New World by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.15 | 280 ratings

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Grave New World
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars With Grave New World, the Strawbs stepped forever out of folk prog and became a full blown symphonic prog group with the inclusion of new keyboardist Blue Weaver's icy Mellotron. "Benedictus", perhaps the album's finest song, seems to take the more pastoral workings of "Glimpse of Heaven" from Tales from The Witchwood and supercharges the ethereal visions of Heaven that Cousins imagined both literally and musically with a mind blowing choir for the song's chorus, and an electric lead played by Cousins with an electric dulcimer that was played through a fuzz box! Weaver used string, flute and organ settings on his Mellotron to supplement his actual organ and cascading piano. It's an incredible opening to this or any album and the group would only come close to a song as good with the equally arresting title track.

Songs immediately following such "Queen of Dreams", which at first features psychedelic backwards guitar, Mellotron flutes, muted drums with it's stop and go rhythm breaks, is quite good as is bassist John Ford's Jethro Tull like "Heavy Disguise", which Ford performed solo on acoustic guitar apart from catchy backing from a brass section.

"New World", the album's ersatz title track, is a monster with Weaver supplying just brass and string Mellotron chords and melodies over the six and twelve six strum of Cousins' and Tony Hooper's acoustic guitars. Cousins released his most vitriolic vocal delivery ever as he condemned the violence in Northern Ireland so prevalent at that time in the UK's history. Ford and drummer Richard Hudson seem to go the extra mile on this song and the result is an absolute Strawbs' classic.

After that remarkable aural assault, the following songs seem less impressive but show off the group's strong points with the pleasantly acoustic "The Flower and the Young Man" and heavily progressive "Tomorrow". "Ah Me, Ah My" is quirky with it's British dance hall music accompaniment. It's only a minute and half long, and seems to clean the palette for the searching "Is It Today Lord?' which features Hudson on some wonderful sitar, and the album's closer "Journey's End", which features some philosophical musings from Cousins accompanied only by Weaver's moving piano. The two bonus tracks add nothing to the album and are forgettable.

All in all, Grave New World is an impressive prog album, but slows down a bit too much towards the end to warrant more than 4 stars (3.8 rounded up). But fear not friends. The Strawbs would offer some 5 star prog masterpieces in just a few short years to come.

 Stormcock by HARPER, ROY album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.03 | 164 ratings

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Stormcock
Roy Harper Prog Folk

Review by moorw003

5 stars This is one of the greatest albums of all time. Forget that it's a folk record, or a rock record, or a prog record. It's a masterpiece from begin to end.

Hor D'oerves is a song Roy Harper described in interviews as being lightweight. Compared with what came in the last 3 songs, that might be true, but it's a fine, laid back and rivetting start to the album.

The Same Old Rock is where the meat of the album really starts. An angry lament about the folly of organised religion, it weaves in and out before knocking you down with a killer coda (something the final track does too).

One Man Rock and Roll Band, probably is Roy Harper's second most played song live, after Cricketer from a different album. The Eastern influence and multiple ways it can be played is clearly fun to play. This version is probably the weakest of any, but that's not really a dig. It's a great, punchy song with distorted vocals.

Me and my Woman is a love song. Roy didn't write many, but what a song. Multiple different segments in here, the most progressive and probably the best song here (which is saying something). It's coda, the last 4 minutes or so is just spine tinglingly good.

 Reunion by GAROLOU album cover Live, 1995
3.29 | 5 ratings

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Reunion
Garolou Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

3 stars "Reunion" is the only album that documents Garolou live in concert. Recorded in Longueuil in 1994, it also represents the reunion of the band after so many years inactive (their last album before then was "Centre-Ville" in 1982). They do a very good job recreating their most popular songs in concert, and the sound quality is excellent. The song list represents what most consider to be their best pieces, and for the most part I do not disagree (I would have also liked to see "Nicholas" or "Le Condamne" from the third album, but one can't have everything) . It is telling that there are no songs here from their fourth album "Centre-Ville", clearly their weakest album and no one in the audience is requesting those numbers. For the rating, I had to think about this one. As a live greatest hits album, it covers the bases, and with their best songs, excellent sound quality and strong performances, one might rightly expect a 4-star rating. However, my complaint is that they are too faithful to the studio recordings. Some (although not all) of the guitar solos are in fact note-for-note. Yet, I would not say that any of the versions on this live album are better than their studio counterparts, and in fact in every case the studio versions are better (even if just so slightly). So if you like the songs you should pick up the studio albums first. On balance, I give it 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale (which translates to 3 PA stars).
 Memoire Vive by GAROLOU album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.00 | 6 ratings

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Memoire Vive
Garolou Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

3 stars This album is the first studio album by Garolou since 1982. For the most part, this is a fine return to form. While the songs remain normal-length and pretty safe, most of the songs are really good, very musical, and the sound quality is excellent. Of the 11 songs on this album, there are only 3 I find weak, although not too weak as I can still listen to them (tracks 4, 8, and 9). The album opens with the excellent "Quand l'amour n'y est pas", and continues through two more excellent songs ("La fille du roi d'Espagne" and "Le saoleil s'en va se coucher"), each of which would fit very well on their first three albums, with classic 70s-sounding organs and guitars (and if these had been on the third album they would be among its strongest tracks). Two other highly enjoyable tracks are the more Acadian-tinged pieces, "Le Cheval en peinture" and "Mes souliers sont ronds" - fun tunes with highly memorable melodies that stick in your head. This album is admittedly on the tame side, with only hints of progressivity on a couple of tracks, but most of this music is of very high quality and the sound is classic Garolou. So if you like their first two albums and do not require complex progressive arrangements, you will like this one. I give this album 7.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, so, at the top end of 3 PA stars.
 Centre-Ville by GAROLOU album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.03 | 8 ratings

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Centre-Ville
Garolou Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

2 stars It took Canadian record companies a bit longer than their US and UK counterparts to start putting the squeeze on their artists to get them producing more radio-friendly commercial music. However, by the early 1980s this had become the norm, and one can clearly hear the influence on this album. This album is more highly produced, with shorter songs and more of an 80s sound, with perhaps the best example (ie worst song, for me intolerable) the track which closes the album - "Suel au Centre-Ville". However, even the better songs on this album have just enough of this slicker sound to make me not want to listen to it very often. There are some decent songs on this though. I actually like the opener with the reggae-related beat ("Tu Ouvres La Porte"), and even though more AOR in style, the second and third songs ("Je Deviens Fou" and "Aller-Retour") are still fairly musical. The best song is the second-last track, "Je Savais Pas", which would fit in on their earlier albums, although it does not come close to the best songs on those albums. So, there are four decent songs here, making the album worth picking up by (true) fans for these tracks. But the rest are just OK, and I can no longer sit through the whole album. On balance, I give this 4.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 2 PA 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
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