Forest was an English folk-rock/psych trio that released the 1969/70 albums Forest and The Full Circle. Both albums — along with the music of numerous “acid folk” contemporaries (Trees, Synanthesia, Fresh Maggots, Fuchsia, Dr. Strangely Strange, Jan Dukes de Grey, Tea and Symphony, Tír na nÓg) — gained newfound popularity during the 21st century.

Members: Martin Welham (vocals, 12 string guitar, harmonium, piano, pipes, percussion), Derek Allenby (mandolin, harmonica, pipes, harmonium, percussion, vocals), Hadrian Welham (guitar, mandolin, vocals)


Forest grew from a musical partnership between Grimsby brothers Martin and Hadrian Welham, both guitarist/singers. In 1966, they formed the Foresters of Walesby with schoolmate Dez Allenby and performed trad harmony ballads on the Lincolnshire folk circuit. Inspired by the Incredible String Band, they appropriated psychedelia to a set of acoustic originals. They moved to Birmingham and shortened their name to Forest, an ode to their lyrical fixation on the ancient groves of England.

In March 1969, Forest did their first of three sessions for BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel. They signed to Pink Floyd‘s management firm Blackhill Enterprises, which also represented the Battered Ornaments, the Edgar Broughton Band, the Third Ear Band, and Roy Harper: the inaugural class of acts on Harvest, the progressive division of EMI. Forest’s debut single, “Searching for Shadows” (b/w “Mirror of Life“), appeared that September. The a-side remains exclusive to that single.

1969: Forest

Forest released their self-titled debut album in late 1969 on Harvest. It features 12 group-written originals, including “A Fantasy You,” “Don’t Want to Go,” “Sylvie (We’d Better Not Pretend),” “Do You Want Some Smoke?” and the aforementioned b-side. Each member plays an assortment of instruments, often interchanged, including harmonium, organ, mandolin, harmonium, and pipe.

Forest was co-produced by the band and Blackhill’s Andrew King. Original copies come in a gatefold sleeve with liner notes by Peel and a grass-seated band photo (inner-spread) by Dave Hollis. The front and back cover, credited to visual artist Joan Melville, depicts ivy-wrapped nudes in swaths of blue and green.

A Glade Somewhere,” the second track on side A, also appears on the 1970 Harvest comp Picnic (A Breath of Fresh Air) along with tracks by labelmates Deep PurpleBarclay James Harvest, Quatermass, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Pretty Things, and the aforementioned Blackhill clients.

1970: The Full Circle

Forest’s second album, The Full Circle, appeared in 1970 on Harvest. It features nine split-credit originals and one band-arranged traditional (“Famine Song“). Allenby contributed three songs: “Hawk the Hawker,” “Gypsy Girl & Rambleaway,” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” The remaining numbers — including “Midnight Hanging of a Runaway Serf,” “Do Not Walk in the Rain,” “Graveyard,” and “Bluebell Dance” — are credited to Welham (unspecified).

The Full Circle was co-produced at Abbey Road Studios between the band and Malcolm Jones (Love Sculpture, Syd Barrett) with engineer Phil McDonald (Spooky Tooth, Stealers Wheel, Hummingbird, Squeeze). The credits list the members by their forename/nicknames: Martin, Adrian (Hadrian), and Dez (Derek). The Melville-illustrated gatefold depicts a water-side mother, en-swirled in water and branches, holding her infant at the base of a castle-topped hill. A b&w variation of said image (inner-fold) reveals dragon-like cloud formations and water-logged cadavers (far left).

“Hawk the Hawker” features steel guitar by guest musician Gordon Huntley, best known for his performance on “Country Comfort” from the 1970 Elton John album Tumbleweed Connection. The closing track, “Autumn Childhood,” features Martin on electric harpsichord.

Later Activity

Allenby left Forest in 1971. The Welham’s welcomed bassist Dave Stubbs and reedist/violist Dave Panton for a series of live dates, including an appearance at the 1971 Pinkpop Festival in Geleen, Netherlands, along with sets by Focus, Supersister, Fleetwood Mac, Shocking Blue, and Hardin & York.

Forest held two live in-studio sessions (May and October 1972) with BBC Radio 1 DJ Bob Harris. In 1989, Italian archivists Hablabel released these sessions on Concert, also released in France as BBC Concert by fellow archivists Klimt Records. It features a cover of Ray Charles (“Leave My Woman Alone”) and seven post-album Welham brothers originals, including “You Could Have Been a Gypsy,” “Leftover Wright,” and the nine-minute “Everyday Laugh.”

The two Forest albums were first reissued in 1987/88 on the short-lived archival label Zap! (Locomotive, Tudor Lodge, The Raspberries). In 1993, both titles got their first CD pressings on EMI Japan, the market for numerous subsequent issues (2008, 2013, 2015) on the label’s resurrected Harvest imprint. In 1994, UK archivists BGO Records paired both albums onto a single CD.

In the 2000s, Martin Welham formed the folk-psych duo The Story with his son, Tom. They issued two 2006/07 discs on Sunbeam Records and a third in 2011 on Rainbow Quartz International.



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