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Dr. Strangely Strange - Heavy Petting CD (album) cover


Dr. Strangely Strange


Prog Folk

2.77 | 14 ratings

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2 stars I’ve tried for a while now to get into this album, but frankly it’s nothing to get very excited about, even for a hardcore fan of hippie-era acid folk. For the most part the band lives up to their reputation of sounding an awful lot like the more staid Incredible String Band albums, although there are a spare few redeeming qualities scattered about here and there.

Dr. Strangely Strange formed a bit of a following in the very early seventies from what I understand, although I never heard of them until just a couple years ago when their late reformed lineup released the 2007 CD ‘Halcyon Days’. Turns out I didn’t miss much, and neither will you if you never bother to pick this thing up. Most of the arrangements here are not particularly well thought-out, and the sporadic spoken-word bits serve only to make the music sound even more dated than it would have anyway. This is especially true of the directionless opening track “Ballad of the Wasps” as well as “I Will Lift up Mine Eyes” with its off-key singing and just as sour organ notes.

The one bright spot is the lengthy “Sign on my Mind”, an almost Dylanesque meandering folk tune embellished with plenty of acoustic instruments (mandolin, guitar, fiddle) as well as thick with the band’s penchant for all manner of whistles, recorders and flutes. This is an easygoing and breezy springtime tune with a light air to it that makes for a pleasant enough listen, but it’s hardly enough to save the entire album. “Gave my Love an Apple” starts off with a bit of promise as well, but quickly morphs into a jaunty and somewhat silly jam session with rather nonsensical lyrics and no sense of purpose whatsoever. Truth be told by this point in the album I’m a little bored and setting through the rest of it becomes a tad chore whenever I manage to play the whole thing. The abrupt ending comes none too soon as far as I’m concerned. I don’t mean to bash this record really, but it wasn’t worth what I paid for it and in the end I’d rather be honest than accommodating.

With the exception of the blues-guitar infused “Mary Malone of Moscow”, the back half of the album is quite tepid and lackluster, with no standout tracks at all. That one song could be considered a very early example of what bands like T. Rex would develop into the glam rock sound that emerged from acid folk a few short years later, but I think this is more by accident than any sort of artistic epiphany.

In all this is hardly better than a collector’s curio, an album whose cover has stood the test of time far better than the music it encases. I can’t say I’d recommend this record to anyone in particular, although if you are someone like me who likes to immerse yourself in prog folk music of all kinds, it might be worth a taste just for the experience. Two stars are about all I can muster though, so there’s no ringing endorsement forthcoming.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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