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Strawbs - Grave New World CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.16 | 356 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars The departure of Rick Wakeman didn't stop the Strawbs from fully embracing a sort of "symphonic folk" song, but it did shake the band's confidence - especially band leader Dave Cousins, whose feelings of betrayal at the time leak out in the lyrics to Tomorrow on here. Depressed by this turn of events, Cousins turned to the rest of the band members for songwriting support, but the end product is both extremely consistent and, what's more, conceptually cohesive, the album tracing the journey of an everyman protagonist from cradle to grave.

Blue Weaver's keyboard style is less prone to showboating than Wakeman's, but arguably that's what was needed at this juncture - someone to provide keyboard textures whilst the other band members demonstrate their instrumental and vocal chops. The band absolutely needed to prove that there was more to them than Wakeman's technical virtuosity - some sectors of the music press thought that Wakeman leaving would spell the end of the band, which in retrospect seems crazy but considering what a major presence he was on From the Witchwood does kind of make sense. The group step up to the challenge admirably, play their hearts out, and sing beautifully - the harmonies on opening track Benedictus are simply divine.

With a heavier dose of acoustic guitar than most prog bands of the time (aside from Jethro Tull), and a new willingness to get experimental - there's some really *strange* instrumental tracks on Queen of Dreams, Grave New World sees the band perfecting their own model of progressive music which is uniquely theirs. It might not be as complex as their competitors, but it's certainly powerful and emotionally moving - as on the best song on the disc, the harsh and biting New World. This album is the first real Stawbs classic.

Warthur | 5/5 |


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