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Strawbs - From The Witchwood CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.02 | 223 ratings

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Tony Fisher
Prog Reviewer
5 stars This was the second album I ever bought and is one of my all time favourites. You won't get soaring lead guitar a la Yes, but what you do get are some of the finest folk rock songs ever written with Rick Wakeman's beautiful keyboard work to embellish them before he developed his tendency to overelaborate. This was his last album with them before he joined Yes, but they survived his departure because there was far more to the band than just him, contrary to some views. And they are definitely progressive!

Glimpse of Heaven opens with some great organ and celeste work behind Dave Cousans' beautiful vocals and the instrumental break in the middle is amazing. Witchwood is a dark, brooding song with lovely instrumentation including a dulcimer. Thirty Days is sung by John Ford and is a mainly acoustic anti war song with some fine sitar work from Richard Hudson. Flight is a gentle Richard Hudson song with wonderful harmony vocals and Wakeman's piano. The piece de resistance is the Hangman and the Papist - a civil war tale of how war divides brothers; in this case a soldier has to hang his brother. Few more powerful, dramatic songs have ever been recorded and Cousans produces the vocal performance of his life, backed by the organ and filled in expertly by the others.

Side 2 starts off, less promisingly since Sheep and Canon Dale are the weakest cuts on the album, though still enjoyable. The former features a fine Moog solo. Shepherd Song is a beautiful, slightly erotic song which culminates in a fabulous instrumental outro where each instrument joins in turn. The melloton work on this is one of the earliest and best examples of how to use one. In amongst the roses is exquisite, with lovely acoustic guitar work and some fine keyboards, Tony Hooper and Dave Cousans alternating on vocals. The album ends with I'll Carry on Beside You, which features a rare electric guitar solo and is beautifully sung by Tony Hooper.

With four first class singers, a keyboardist of the highest order, four fine and very different songwriters and a wide range of exotic instuments to complement the keyboards guitar/bass/ drums mix, Strawbs were truly magnificent at this time. If you don't have this and the next one (Grave New World), you really are missing out on a treat.

Tony Fisher | 5/5 |


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