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Dave Cousins - Old School Songs (with Brian Willoughby) CD (album) cover

OLD SCHOOL SONGS (WITH BRIAN WILLOUGHBY)

Dave Cousins

 

Prog Folk

3.35 | 3 ratings

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SteveG
2 stars Desperation is the mother of invention.

In a effort to separate the wheat from the chaff of Dave Cousins' solo offerings, I look back on 1980's "Old Scholl Songs" recorded with old friend and crack guitarist Brian Willoughby.

Basically, after the Strawbs lost their record deal in 1978 and disbanded, Cousins was up against it and needed an inexpensive way to generate some income. He enlisted Willoughby and the duo hit the fiolk club and festival circuit playing Strawbs' numbers acoustically.

The album is split nearly in two by studio recording and live recordings of the 1979 Exmouth Folk Festival in the U.K. The live festival cuts were actually taken from a cassette type. But as the entire album is considerably Lo Fi, there is no loss of continuity between the early studio cuts and the live taped tracks.

Hence, Mr. Cousins might have produced the first unplugged album about a decade before it came into vogue on MTV.

The performance's are good as Cousins is still in top notch voice at this juncture and does justice to songs like the "Hangman and the Papist" as well as an excellent solo vocal on the Strawbs' bombastic U.K. hit Laydown.

Unfortunately, Willoughby is very much in a strumming support role, or merely interjects a few catchy notes here and there, and doesn't get a chance to really shine. At least on most of the songs presented here.

Old School Songs is a quaint look back at a desperate time for Dave Cousins and is a precursor to the Acoustic Strawbs groups that he would form 20+ years later. However, due to it's Lo Fi nature and lack of songs that outshine the original versions (except for a beautiful stripped down version of "Grace Darling"), I can only recommended this antique and curio to die hard fans and collectors. Cousins would strike gold with the 2003 album "Baroque and Roll" by the Acoustic Strawbs featuring both Dave Lambert and Willoughby in strikingly good form and is much preferred for those seeking out acoustic versions of Strawbs' best songs. So, 2 stars seems right for "Old School Songs."

SteveG | 2/5 |

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