Fiddling Meanly

Fiddling Meanly

by Woolly Wolstenholme


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Fiddling Meanly

It didn't quite work out as planned. When Woolly Wolstenholme (under his solo alias Maestoso) took to the road in 2004, he initially planned a set list comprising tracks from his newly released studio album One Drop in a Dry World, as well as his earlier solo efforts Songs from the Black Box and Maestoso, rounded off by a few representative songs from his days with Barclay James Harvest. But his timing was faulty, what with interest in BJH reactivated by the Barclay James Harvest through the Eyes of John Lees project's own releases and outings, with which, of course, Wolstenholme was involved. And besides, it had been over two decades since Wolstenholme had recorded any new material, and no wonder after all those years his hardcore fans were clamoring for the old, not the new. And thus Wolstenholme gave in to their demands, performing a career-spanning set at the London club The Mean Fiddler. Beginning with the orchestral number "Abendrot," which would reappear in a couple of years on Maestoso's Grim, the band then launches into a cut off of One Drop, "The Bells, The Bells!," which segues perfectly into Black Box's "Deceivers All" and on to a splendid version of that album's "Has to Be a Reason." But then it's back to the past, as the group resurrects a clutch of BJH numbers -- a stirring, and considering the political climate, resonating "In Search of England," and (sly, wry move here) the even older "The Iron Maiden." The downbeat "Sunday Bells" comes from Black Box, "Poor Wages" from the B-side of a 1969 BJH single, and if you put this quartet together, you may be seeing an ironic political theme here. If that's the case, Wolstenholme doesn't draw attention to it. "The Poet" and "After the Day," drawn from BJH's third album, are beautifully presented, "Harbour," from XII gets an astounding workout, before Maestoso delves deep into the past for an exquisite take on "Early Morning," BJH's debut single, interspersed with a few more carefully chosen Black Box numbers. The arrangements are all timeless, thus even the earliest and most recent songs, with over three decades separating them, all feel part of the same beautiful tapestry. The set comes to a close with a majestic organ solo, wittily titled "Big Organ End." The One Drop album was proof positive that Wolstenholme refused to be stuck in the past, this live album belies that fact, but does illustrate that the organist can still deliver up the elegant, majestic music of yore, and still create songs that speak to the past and now the future.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/12/2005
Label: Eclectic Discs
UPC: 0693723045726
catalogNumber: 1019

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