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Strawbs - Classic Strawbs CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.86 | 9 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars If you are a vinyl aficionado and don't own any Strawbs recordings, "Classic Strawbs" comes highly recommended if you can find it. With a Canada only distribution and a lack of CD re-release, it already has all the cachet you need. Luckily, the content is even more worthwhile, as A&M focused on the proggier style that broke Strawbs as a popular album oriented band in Canada. It also spans the peak 1970-1975 period, even including the Dylan-on-acid multiverse epic "The Vision of the Lady of the Lake" and the astonishing raga influenced "Where is this Dream of Your Youth" from an early live album in which Rick Wakeman firmly established his reputation.

The folk-tinged symphonic epics and suites for which Strawbs were most respected are all here: "Autumn", "Ghosts", "The Life Auction", "Down by the Sea", "Queen of Dreams", and "Tears and Pavan", while venerable shorter numbers like "Sheep", "Benedictus", "New World", and "Hero and Heroine" also make the cut. While the final A&M album "Nomadness" proved a death knell of sorts for the group, the brilliant "Hanging in the Gallery" proved that Dave Cousins' songwriting instincts and insights remained intact.

The group's UK hit singles, the majestic "Lay Down" and the needling "Part of the Union" were far superior to most of what ascended the charts in the early 1970s, and were quite well received as album tracks in Canada, but they weren't what this compilation was about, and were appropriately omitted. I can't quite give "Classic Strawbs" 5 stars because it is, after all, a compilation, and, as lovingly curated as it was, it can't approximate the cohesiveness of the peak period albums from which it is primarily sourced. But, for a reasonable price and caressed by a loving stylus, it's worthy of the prog rock time capsule. 4.5 stars.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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