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Strawbs - Grave New World CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.16 | 356 ratings

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3 stars "Fools must pretend to be wise, We've a faith that we use as a heavy disguise"

A classic of the folk-rock circles, Strawbs "Grave New World" is an album that has taken some effort for me to appreciate. The first few times I heard it I couldn't imagine what the big deal was about this album, slowly but surely I have come to appreciate it more. Although I still can't say I consider this essential it is fine piece of 70s folk rock that will please many fans of the genre.

"Benedictus" is an incredibly melodic sing-along kind of track, the kind of song that could have been on "The Big Chill" soundtrack, the kind of song that must provide an instant nostalgic flashback for those who took it to heart as a young person in the early 70s." "Hey Little Man" is an acoustic flash over before it begins, but the style was almost Cat Stevens' early albums. "Queen of Dreams" is an average folk-rock track with some trippy effects and a nice guitar solo. At 5 minutes this is the longest song on the album and frankly it has trouble justifying even that length. When I first heard "Heavy Disguise" I thought for sure I must be listening to George Harrison doing a guest spot. Jeezus this sounds just like something from All Things Must Pass. The horns give it an even more eerie Beatle feeling. The lyrics are really pretty good on this one addressing the folks holding power over the masses. "New World" is very heavy with dramatic vocals, lyrics, and great bass lines, mellotron, and percussion. Then we have another interlude of the "Hey Little Man" acoustic thought. "The Flower and the Young Man" is another one that I liked with its great harmonies and fluid bass, it has a wistful longing mood. "Tomorrow" is the hardest rocking track with some crunchy electric chords and a heavy rhythm. Nice guitar and drum fireworks in the latter half of the song add some excitement. "On Growing Older" is another Cat Stevens type song with wild-eyed folkie whimsy, very cool but again short. "Ah Me, Ah My" is a cute little humorous lament about how the past always looks better than today does, a sentiment I share too often. "Is it Today, Lord?" has an eastern feel with the sitar and tablas as the lyrics talk about the end of life and the vocals have a distorted sound that I'm guessing is meant to convey death. The album concludes with the delightful piano of Blue Weaver on "The Journey's End." The old man no longer needs a friend. All is done.

The A&M remaster includes a nice bio but shame on them, no lyrics. They do tack on a couple of pointless bonus tracks which actually detract from the heavy experience of the original intended album. "Grave New World" is certainly a pleasant listen that is as good as many other singer/songwriter style folk-rock albums of its day, though at the same time not necessarily any more impressive than a Harrison, Stevens, or Drake album would be. Its strength lies in its conceptual themes of aging and its strong sense of melody and sincerity. 3 stars

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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