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Strawbs - Burning For You CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

2.58 | 54 ratings

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2 stars 'Burning for You' may be the most disjointed of any Strawbs album, consisting as it does of a wide variety of musical styles but no real central theme or even discernible direction.

This would be the last record on the Oyster label for the band, although they would reenter the studio just three months later to record for Arista as it continued to stock its stable with a host of pop, soft-rock and reconstituted early seventies progressive and folk rockers. Pop producer Jeffrey Lesser performed that job on this record as he had their last, and Dave Cousins continued to collaborate with bassist Chas Cronk on most of the tracks.

But opening the album is possibly the best progressive tune the band had recorded since at least 1974, a rare Cousins/John Mealing composition titled "Burning for Me" that features harpsichord, string arrangements and Robert Kirby on piano as well quietly lush synthesized strings and Dave Lambert with some drawn-out, rocking guitar licks. The lyrics tell the tale of a seafaring wanderer longing for the beacon of the lighthouse, which is probably symbolic but still provides the album with its only true Strawbs-sounding song.

"Cut Like a Diamond" gets mentioned often as one of the few songs from the album that the band would play fairly often in later years, but for my money this is just another Cousins/ Cronk commercial attempt that happens to have better than usual lyrics ("Bitter wife you have cut me like a knife; I could never take a life that could never take its own.").

And "I Feel Your Loving Coming On", the third track on the album is Dave Lambert-penned and has the distinction of combining a slightly folksy opening with schmaltzy pop lyrics and one the simplest and most unoriginal arrangements I've ever heard on a Strawbs album. The only saving grace really comes from the decent backing vocals and synthesized orchestral arrangements but that's not really enough. His other contribution "Heartbreaker" on the back side of the album is a plain-old rock song with the sort of somewhat awkward vocals that come from a musician who has come up with a catchy guitar riff and is trying to craft an entire song around it. Not his best effort.

Cousins shows off his international awareness with "Barcarole (For the Death of Venice)", a vaguely historical piece about past political regimes in that city-state that is mostly acoustic/vocal but is also the first of four songs on the album that include a touch of Mellotron. "Alexander the Great" is another, this one more rocking and electric and lyrics that tell a bitter tale of a popular old dance hall-era singer trying to make a farewell appearance but driven to the edge by brutal critics. No keyboards of synths here, just wailing guitar, drums and bleating Mellotron to accompany Cousins' spitting vocals. An energetic tune to be sure, but not at all in the Strawbs vein musically and not really much of a creative stretch for them either.

"Keep on Trying" and "Back in the Old Routine" appear to be attempts to resurrect the maudlin sentiments of the bands' biggest hit "Part of the Union", though this time the effort seems a bit gratuitous and both tracks come off as disconnected and a little condescending.

Cronk tries his hand at a slow-rocker with love-song lyrics on "Carry Me Home" which might sound like a potential minor hit with someone like Billy Squier or the Nelson brothers but is entirely out of character on this or any other Strawbs album. And Cousins tries to bring the whole thing together with his closing angst anthem "Goodbye (Is Not an Easy Word to Say)" that comes off a bit better thanks to the string arrangements and Lambert's mellow guitar solo, but in the end this isn't enough to leave a satisfied taste in the listener's mouth when all is said and done.

Obviously this isn't among my favorite Strawbs albums and frankly I can't say as I'd recommend it to anyone except maybe a really hardcore fan, and of course hardcore fans of any band usually have every record in their collection anyway so that seems pointless here. Two stars are all I can muster for this one.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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