Forest iTunes Tracks

Forest

+ {The Story}

Originally from the depths of Grimsby in Lincolnshire and calling themselves The Foresters Of Walesby, the trio of Martin Welham, his brother Adrian Welham and Derek Allenby (all singers and multi-instrumentalists) relocated to Birmingham in 1968. Now calling themselves FOREST, they forged their way into the hearts of the prog-folk fraternity through initially cloning the sounds of eclectic Scots outfit, The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND. Under the healthy patronage of Radio One DJ John Peel (who wrote subsequent liner notes), the leafy ones inked a deal with prog-friendly E.M.I. offshoot Harvest Records, releasing non-album single `Searching For Shadows’ the following summer.
The eponymous FOREST (1969) (*6}, was a delightful set, although it suffered the obligatory lambasting from ISB (and DR. STRANGELY STRANGE) acolytes. Medieval and minstrel-like, the LP’s post-psychedelic highlights came by way of `Fading Light’, `Don’t Want To Go’, `A Fantasy You’ and `While You’re Gone’ – but on too many occasions it drifted off on a tangent of excessive over-indulgence.
Sophomore effort FULL CIRCLE (1970) {*7} marked a slight shift in direction, albeit only temporarily as on guest Gordon Huntley’s (MATTHEWS’ SOUTHERN COMFORT) steel guitar-soundscaped opener `Hawk, The Hawker’. No one could fault their commitment, and indeed musicianship (example Hadrian/Adrian’s solo instrumental, `To Julie’), while all three singers took their turn, ultimately combining on the semi-a cappella `Famine Song’. One can only imagine if there’d been more gems like the mighty `Graveyard’ on board, arguably the greatest ever folk-rock song recorded, one could truly say they’d found a sound to identify themselves with, although it came a tad too late.
With sales never quite digging them out of the ever-evolving folk-rock mire and, with the STEELEYEs and the STRAWBS doing the charts a favour, FOREST would be cut down in their prime. Only the Welham’s continued on until they split in October 1972, having cut a second session for Radio 1’s Bob Harris; the first was in May. Touring members Dave Panton (viola, oboe, sax and Dave Stubbs (bass) had kept the brothers rolling along, although a third album pencilled in around the same period was shelved; fortunate fans visiting Italy could’ve bought the proposed LP, CONCERT {*7} in 1989, featuring a version of RAY CHARLES’ `Leave My Woman Alone’ and tasty avant-rock nuggets `You Could Have Been A Gypsy’ and `Everyday Laugh’.
In the mid-00s, Martin Welham (with his songwriter son, Tom) made his long-awaited comeback via The STORY and two easy-going, harmony-fuelled folk albums, TALE SPIN {*5} and ARCANE RISING (2007) {*5}. Both released on the re-issue imprint Sunbeam records, the former was very derivative of SYD BARRETT, DEVENDRA BANHART and ESPERS on such psych-folk ditties like `Roll Of The Dice’, `Down To The Trees’ and `Winterborn’. As The STORY UK (to distinguish them from an America act), the pair delivered their third album, JOY RIDE ON MEMORY LANE (2011) {*5}.
© MC Strong GFD 2010// rev-up MCS Sep2014

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