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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Woolstenholme, Woolly - 1980 Maestoso
Woolstenholme, Woolly - 1980 Maestoso

ARTIST: Woolstenholme, Woolly
ALBUM: Maestoso
LABEL: Polydor
SERIAL: 2374 165
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 1990, SPM/World Wide Records, SPM-WWR-CD 003 * 2000, Brimstone Records, BRIM 003 * 2006, Eclectic Discs, ECL1054 (with bonus tracks)


LINEUP: Stuart 'Woolly' Wolstenholme - keyboards, guitar, bass, vocals * Steve Broomhead - guitar, mandolin, vocals * Kim Turner - drums, percussion, vocals * Brian Day - string bass * Bill Nixon - tubular bells

TRACK LISTING: 01 Sail Away * 02 Quiet Islands * 03 A Prospect Of Whitby * 04 Lives On The Line * 05 Patriots * 06 Gates Of Heaven (14/18) * 07 American Excess * 08 Maestro - A Hymn in the Roof of the World * 09 Waveform


Without a doubt Barclay James Harvest were a band of enormous talent and one of the more successful bands of the progressive movement, especially in Germany were the band easily filled that countries largest concert halls but for keyboardist Woolly Wolstenholme it just wasn't enough. With two major song writers in the band, Wolstenholme over time felt shut out and with his material rejected and tired of the competition, he left Barclay James Harvest in 1979 forming a new band and recording 'Maestoso' in 1980. Was it a wise decision? You have to give the guy credit since his former band were at the peak of their popularity at the time, but 'Maestoso' is a beautifully executed progressive pop album and in many ways out-performs the 80's efforts of his former colleagues.

The Songs
Opening the record with the light and breezy 'Sail Away' I am reminded of a prog rock version of Firefall or Crosby Stills & Nash with 'Quiet Islands' following a similar theme Caribbean theme and very reminiscent of 10cc circa 'Dreadlock Holiday'. So far, so good! 'A Prospect Of Whitby' is more in keeping with Wolstenholme' s work with BJH which is understandable, but 'Lives On The Line' rocks it up a bit and sounding very much like the Alan Parsons Project. 'Gates Of Heaven (14/18)' has a slight Genesis '..And Then There Were Three' vibe about it and is very catchy, but from here on the record takes on a more orchestrated and heavily synthesized tone allowing Woolly to do what he does best, running the gamut between Pink Floyd spaciness and Tangerine Dream influenced star suites albeit a bit more organic.

In Summary
Torn between Barclay James Harvest latest 'Eyes Of The Universe' which was earning big bucks in Europe and 'Maestoso', Polydor virtually ignored this fine record and a proposed single of 'Gates Of Heaven (14/18)' never came to be. Once again a major label drops the ball completely - unbelievable. A tour live as Maestoso followed supporting Judie Tzuke as well as a disastrous run with Saga as Wolstenholme & company lost huge amounts of money, putting an end to the project temporarily although in the years since he has resurrected Maestoso releasing several good albums as well as recording with his former BJH mates in several side projects. For those interested, Eclectic Discs have reissued the album with two live bonus tracks making 'Maestoso' a great value for fans of progressive rock with a side of pop. Unfortunately Woolstenholme did not make it to the other side of 2011, as he passed away in December 2010 after a bout of ill health.

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