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Strawbs - Bursting At The Seams CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.57 | 155 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
1 stars With this album, deception can only be around the bend, as Strawbs have taken yet another turn, this time heading to commercial radio-friendly tracks: Lay Down (on this album) then Part Of The Union. This album has a definitely country-ish sound (hinted with the closing track of Witchwood) and this fact never sits well with this writer.

Right from the opener, you know that you will not find the delicate folk harmonies that made us fly in the previous three albums, and we are stuck with obtrusive (and obstructive;-) country rock feels, needless hard rock tracks and unjustified string arrangements. Even though Weaver over-floods the opening track middle section with mellotrons, he cannot save it with its Gabriel-Moody Blues verse-chorus bit. The tracks of the first side of the vinyl are all of the same mould I just described except for the rather short The River, which is slightly folkier. The harder-edged Down By The Sea (also with Trons) is again not far from ultra early Genesis and Moody Blues, but it hardly saves the day and over-done string arrangements, but it might just be a rare highlight.

The second side starts with the two-part Tears and it is the other highlight on this album, with its lush mellotrons (tons of Trons ;-), but again Genesis-inspired and it does feel a bit forced, especially with its Greek folk Syrtaky dance second movement before Gabriel and Banks (Eeehhmmm!!!.. I mean Cousins and Weaver;-) re-enter the track. The follow-up is rather insignificant but remains charming especially with the awful country hit single to come: Lay Down. It should do just that, but if you want to hear mellotrons-laden country rock, this is worth a good laugh: it almost works too >> we are laughing. The closing track Backside (slightly Spanish-sounding backtrack) is actually better than the average of the album it stands in: this is a change, for The Strawbs had gotten us used to closing-up poorly their albums.

But trouble laid ahead as both Ford and Hudson will leave, with Weaver following and forcing Cousins to rebuild the group from scratch with Hawken (Renaissance), Coombes and Cronk coming in as well as Lambert. The end of an era with this album, but the apple had been rotten for a while (my guess was when Wakeman left). The Further The Strawbs keep going, the more they lose their soul and the more they sound passe-partout and like others: sad.

Sean Trane | 1/5 |


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