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Strawbs - Hero And Heroine CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.16 | 303 ratings

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Tony Fisher
Prog Reviewer
5 stars After the enormous commercial success of Bursting at the Seams, the musical differences in the band between Cousins and Hudson and Ford became irreconcilable, resulting in fragmentation. Blue Weaver left to become a Bee Gee and Hudson and Ford formed their own, more commercial outfit. Lambert and Cousins recruited a new rhythm section in ex Stealers Wheel drummer Rod Coombes and respected session bassist Chas Cronk, completing the line up with ex Renaissance keyboard wizard John Hawken. At first, Cousins had difficulty getting him to play other keyboards than piano, but eventually he warmed to the mellotron, Hammond and moog. And thank God he did, because this album is characterised by some wonderful, mellotron drenched songs and glorious synth. It's a sad album, with a theme of love and abandonment. It also marks the final abandonment of their folk influences and emergence as a full blown prog band.

Autumn, a three part track, kicks off the album with the instrumental Heroine's Theme, a slow, synth/ bass/drum intro, followed by swathes of sweeping mellotron behind a guitar line. It softens into Deep Summers Sleep, with a Cousins lyric lamenting the end of summer, then changes abruptly to a Lambert-fronted epic with a glorious chorus, melodic guitar solo and the curtain of mellotron. Delicious.

The rest of side one is good but not special: Sad Young Man is a pleasant Cousins ballad, Just Love is a fairly raucous, typically rocky Lambert effort and Shine on Silver Sun was a minor hit single.

Side two is simply magnificent and reflects Cousins' depressed state of mind at the time. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES LISTEN TO IT IF YOU ARE DEPRESSED.

Hero and Heroine features Cousins at his most dramatic, with crashing mellotron and epic guitar over a lyric about desertion. It flows into Midnight Sun, a gentle, beautiful song about hopelessness. Out in the Cold is an erotic song about passionate love and loss. Round and Round, with its insistent synthesiser riff, is about suicide and features Cousans and Lambert on top form. Lay a Little Light on Me is about seeking a way out of depression and lamenting the failure of religion to provide answers. Hero's theme concludes the album with a repetitive, rousing, motif and chorus.

The musicianship is consistently good, the rhythm section blending effortlessly into the background yet underpinning the songs perfectly whilst the three lead instrumentalists work their magic. I bought this album on its release date in 1974 and love it as much as I ever did. Side 1 deserves 4* but side 2 easily lifts it up to the rank of masterpiece.

Tony Fisher | 5/5 |


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