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Strawbs - Lay Down/Backside CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.00 | 2 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars While "Grave New World" was STRAWBS' biggest selling album in the UK by far, it failed to yield a hit single and it didn't quite reach the top 10. "Bursting at the Seams", recorded with rock guitarist Dave Lambert replacing a disillusioned Tony Hooper, rectified both of these problems and gave wide albeit fleeting recognition to Strawbs in their home country while building on their budding reputation in North America. The first single, "Lay Down", actually saw release in late 1972, before the album, and is a surprisingly upbeat hard rock number that nonetheless retains the characteristics of the group sound - strong melodies, hymn like aura and lyrics, and a soaking of mellotron choir. Cousins' goal here was to sound like the SMALL FACES and their gift of delivering the message that they were having fun when they performed. It seemed to resonate with the public who drove it to #12 on the UK charts and primed the pump for the even bigger albeit very different "Part of the Union" early in 1973. While many Strawbs fans decry "Part of the Union" as sell out, most agree that "Lay Down" was a fine song that made only enough concessions to achieve deserved success. Nonetheless, apart from the similar "Stormy Down" on the same album, it's an approach that the band never capitalized on again.

The B side was a very proggy and ribald send up of the David Bowie "Ziggy Stardust" persona, and is even more a showcase of Dave Lambert's passionate lead guitar than the A-side. The extended instrumental coda showcases the band's new-found confidence. The fact that this song did not make the album cut is testament to the free flowing creativity of the group at that time.

Unless you are a vinyl collector, both of these tracks can be found on the CD reissues of "Bursting at the Seams", with "Backside" as a bonus. Still, these are two excellent tracks that document the Strawbs' fleeting chapter as one of the top bands in their homeland.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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