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Cousins & Conrad - High Seas CD (album) cover

HIGH SEAS

Cousins & Conrad

 

Symphonic Prog

2.56 | 5 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Call to action

Dave Cousins seemingly has a thing for recording collaboration albums with other people outside of his day job with Strawbs and then taking some of the resulting material back to Strawbs and often recording superior versions of the songs in question with them. In 1994, for example, Cousins recorded an album called The Bridge together with a Brian Willoughby, and then a few years later re-recorded several songs from that album with Strawbs for the album Blue Angel (the title track of which was itself a re-recording of a track from Cousins' first solo album from 1972). The present album is a collaboration with one Conny Conrad, and again a couple of the songs eventually appeared on a Strawbs album, again in improved versions. So far none of the songs from Hummingbird - Cousins' 2002 collaboration album with ex-Strawbs member and keyboard legend extraordinaire Rick Wakeman - have appeared on any Strawbs album, but that album itself featured a couple of re-recorded Strawbs numbers. One cannot help to wonder what the point is of doing these collaboration projects if the material is going to end up under the Strawbs banner sooner or later anyway.

I have yet to hear Cousins & Willoughby's The Bridge, but both Wakeman & Cousins' Hummingbird and the present album with Conrad are somewhat frustrating listens. There is indeed much potential here, but it is not executed as well as it could have been. The production is a bit on the weak side, but the biggest problem for me is the absence of a full band. Here we have only Cousins on lead vocals, acoustic guitar, banjo, and dulcimer, and Conrad on electric guitars, keyboards, and drum programming. Rick Wakeman guests on piano on one track, but otherwise there are no other people involved. This is especially problematic as the ambition here seems to have been to make a Prog Rock album. The lack of genuine drums (even if the programmed drums here sound surprisingly good for programmed drums) is especially damaging.

High Seas opens with The Call To Action, an improved version of which would later open Strawbs' excellent The Broken Hearted Bride album. Especially having heard the latter version first, this version sounds somewhat unfinished. The same goes for the whole album. The songs remain pleasant enough, but they sound like demos. The only real stinker is My Oh My. The other track that later appeared on The Broken Hearted Bride is Deep In The Darkest Night. Again, the Strawbs version is the definitive version, even if this version features Wakeman on piano.

The material presented here is not bad at all, but it is badly presented. I feel that it could have been so much better than it is. As such, it is somewhat disappointing. Recommended only to fans of Cousins and Strawbs!

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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