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Strawbs - Laydown With The Strawbs CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.00 | 1 ratings

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4 stars Here's a secret about the Strawbs:

Don't tell anyone, but Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert and Chas Cronk cannot harmonize well with each other and come off like out-of-tune drunken sailors on some occasions. Especially when they sing together live. Which is why I've seen a few negative reviews of this live album titled "Lay Down With the Strawbs." Even when the angry listeners get past the first three and a quarter songs, where Cousins and Lambert go on to sing magnificently by themselves.

But first impressions are the ones that last, it seems. However, I'm of the crowd that wants the harder stuff out of the way ASAP. To be honest, the lead off track of this album, "Lay Down", is one of the best live vocal versions that I've ever heard the band do. The opening chorus to "Ghosts" is just ok, but it's over so quickly that Cousins' nightmare lyrics and thrilling roller coaster music quickly take you over. "Shine On Silver Sun" was always a hard song for the group to nail live vocally, but after so many years of hearing the group kill this song in concert, I've seem to have become immune. Or perhaps it's because the songs that immediately follow are all so stellar, starting with the sublime "Remembering / You And I When We Were Young", where Cousins is comfortably back in his comfort zone with John Hawken oozing magic from his electric piano keys.

Yes, the old magic comes floating back in for the fantastic version of the "Life Auction'"suite and the always lovely "Out In The Cold" which segues into a storming version of "Round And Round." The Last three being from the classic Hero and Heroine album, with all three songs being some of best live versions ever recorded by the Strawbs. And that's all from just the first CD of this double disc.

The Strawbs brought their "A game" to this concert as it was also recorded on DVD for the European market with this audio CD coming out one or two years later. Highlights of the second CD include a great version of "Autumn", followed by a rare drum solo from Rod Coombes that fits somewhere between Ginger Baker and Ravi Shankar's percussionist that segues into a power version of "Hero And Heroine". That in turn is followed by a wonderfully psychedelic version "Round And Round (reprise)." Again, I cannot stress how perfect Cousins and Lambert sing on their own, with Lambert letter perfect on guitar throughout. Chas Cronk returned to the deep boom of his Fender bass, while Cousins is always perfect on all the his acoustic guitar parts and banjo playing, especially on an inspired version of Lambert's "Cold Steel" from the Deja Fou album.

For the fans that enjoy the song, there's a decent version of "Part Of The Union" song by a guesting John Ford, who also joins the Acoustic Strawbs on the album's bonus tracks that include inspired acoustic versions of "Tears and Pavan" from the great album Bursting At The Seams , as well as Ford's "Heavy Disguise" from the album Grave New World.

And here's one more secret you should know about the Strawbs. If you concentrate on their top notch live performances, which are many, you will be thrilled to death by this still capable and engaging prog group. 4 stars.

SteveG | 4/5 |


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