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Strawbs - All Our Own Work CD (album) cover

ALL OUR OWN WORK

Strawbs

Prog Folk


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Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars "Who know where the time goes"

This album only saw the light of day well after the Strawbs and Sandy Denny had gone their separate ways, and both had become famous. Cousins apparently heard Denny singing in a folk club, and was so taken by her voice he immediately persuaded her to join the group. She therefore takes lead vocal on the majority of the tracks, Cousins distinctive vocals only coming to the fore occasionally. The album was eventually released on a budget label to exploit the subsequent success of the band, thus rather underplaying the significance of the work.

Cousins apparently had considerable difficulty at the time in securing a record deal for the group. By the time he had done so, Denny had left to join folk rock band Fairport Convention. (She also sang on "The Battle of Evermore" from the great Led Zeppelin IV album.)

There is none of the folk prog which the band developed in the 1970's here, this is an acoustic folk album. In truth, only the perennial Dave Cousins links the Strawbs as they appear here with the band which recorded "Ghosts" and "Hero and Heroine". Tony Hooper who was instrumental in ensuring the early folk influences of the band were retained on their first few albums, is also present. Sandy Denny also plays a strong part in giving this album its strong folk sound. Understandably, the album sounds somewhat different to the rest of the Strawbs output, which is dominated by the distinctive vocals of Cousins.

An early recording of one of Denny's finest songs, "Who know where the time goes", is included. While it sounds similar to the version later recorded by Fairport Convention, the slightly faster tempo and string accompaniment make it easy to distinguish between the two.

The version of "Tell me what you see in me", here is radically different to the much more powerful one which was re-recorded by the Strawbs in the 1990's, The version here is a simple laid back folk interpretation . "And you need me" is a Cousins penned soft ballad, once again sung by Denny, and is probably the best track on the album.

Tony Hooper gets to sing on a couple of occasions, including the verses of "On my way" and the lovely "Always on my mind" (not the Willie Nelson song by the way).

The album was re-released as Sandy Denny and the Strawbs in 1991, with slightly revised tracks. "Sweetling", which sees Hooper sounding more than a little like George Harrison, and "Wild strawberries", a banjo picking number, were dropped. They were replaced by "I've been my own worst friend" the sorry tale of "Poor Jimmy Wilson", and "Two weeks last summer", a slightly trippy, Pentangle like number, which became the title of Cousins only solo album.

This album will be of interest to Strawbs fans, as it is a fascinating look at their roots. For others though, only those who also have a strong love of acoustic folk music should indulge.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#19706)
Posted Friday, October 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I bought the 90's CD version of this album with a revised track selection, when I was searching of albums featuring SANDY DENNY. These tracks were recorded before STRAWB's first studio album (which was released year 1969), so this is quite old and traditional sounding folk record. Few of the songs released here were also re-recorded on their first album.

"Nothing Else Will Do" which opened my version of this album has a nice brisk acoustic guitar driven rhythm, and it acts as a good opening number. Other good but quite conventional tracks here are the tunes like "All I Need Is You", which is a classic folk rock song of the 60's featuring a strong drum and bass driven rhythm on it. Also "Sail Away To The Sea" is a traditional sounding composition for both female and male vocals, resembling PETER, PAUL and MARY's stuff a bit. I like the melodies of this song very much, which are driven by several guitars and the singer's voice. "Tell Me What You See In Me" has a slightly hippie orientated exotic melody line, and the other subtle beatnik influences on this record are crystallized in the few passages played with a sitar here and there. The early version of Sandy's "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" is also a nice performance of this song, but it doesn't differ much from the later version on the FAIRPORT CONVENTION's "Unhalfbricking" album.

Few of the songs weren't the most memorable of their kind here, but the good ones are interesting songs at least when observed as a part of SANDY DENNY's career. I haven't heard STRAWBS yet much except their "From The Witchwood" album, which surely has much more progressive elements in it than this record. But I think that this is a nice little album still, probably pleasing mostly the fans of folk music and good lady singers. I also have a little nostalgia towards this album, as I got it when I was doing my military service, and these songs played in my head whilst I was running around at the military shooting grounds.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#85473)
Posted Wednesday, August 02, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I only have the original MFP release of this record and the pressing is on cheap vinyl and suffers a lot from wear. However that is also the point. I love this record and I will certainly now be looking for the Cd version. This record contains some great versions of classic tracks by both Denny " Who Knows Where The Time Goes " and the Strawbs "Tell Me What You See In Me " as well as many other cuts that are great Folk songs. The inclusion of "Two Weeks Last Summer" has already got me searching the web. If the CD version is as good as the Vinyl version then it will certainly be a great addition to both My Denny and Strawbs collection. The MFP release suffers from a poor pressing as well as cheap vinyl but is certainly worth seeking out by fans. I cannot recommend this record to those who's tastes do not extend to folk and it really is only due to the later output of the Strawbs that I can justify it inclusion on a site dedicated to Prog. However this is truly a lost gem and one that will repay those who are interested many times over. If the pressing was a lot better I would give this a 4 as it is it still deserves more than a 3. Essential to Denny fans in my estimation...really !

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Send comments to burgersoft777 (BETA) | Report this review (#92050)
Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This record was actually recorded a long time prior its original release (some six years). The record company saw an easy way to capitalize on both Strawbs as well as on Sandy Denny fame at the time (73).

My own records are only reminding her for being a part of the duet on The Battle Of Evermore. One of the most folkish songs from Led Zep.

I can't say that this album is very good. It sounds accordingly pretty much outdated, truly folkish. But there aren't any brilliant songs featured on this work (maybe one). Tranquil but dull acoustic songs. At times, it sounds as traditional music as well (Sail Away To The Sea).

Although Sandy is featured on the lead vocals on most of the songs, she only wrote one piece of music from the whole album (Who Knows Where The Time). But she wasn't even twenty at the time so.

The mood of the album is very childish and barely interesting. Just a bunch of gentle songs in which some passion has been forgotten. One song is better tha average, IMO: the fully psychedelic and Airplane oriented Tell Me What You See in Me. Vocals are so close to the great Earl Slick. The one and only highlight.

But as soon as Dave takes over on the vocals, I have to say that the album just falls flat. The worst being I've Been My Own Worst Friend. In all, I would say that this album is just a curiosity.

Sadly, Sandy died at the young age of thirty one (in 1978). May she rest in piece in the folk Walhalla.

Two stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#184984)
Posted Tuesday, October 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars Very first album recorded from this group although it didn't get released until the early 70's, All Our Own Work was recorded in Copenhagen as the Strawbs were touring and some one asked them if they would record. No sooner said, it was done on a two-track equipment, over the month of August 68. OK, the band had been together for a year and had hung around London as a quartet (Cousins, Hooper, bassist Chesterman and Sandy, no drums) and for the need of this album they were joined by Danish session drummer Gudmand.

Although this was released as a double vinyl (and now only one Cd), under the name of "Early Strawbs", this album comes across as not too long and even offers three bonus of excellent calibre and complementing tracks, well within the scope of the album.. Even at this early stage, Strawbs's music was coming mostly of Cousin's guitar, rather than Hooper (who signs 3 tracks) and Denny (just one, but it's a classic). The music is nothing worth waking your grandpa, just normal folk rock (all originals) that ranges from inventive (How Everyone Was A Hypocrite ) West-Coast (Tell Me What you See In Me) to traditional (Wild Strawberries) to conventional (And You Need Me, Always on My Mind) and uninteresting (Stay A While, Own Worst Friend). And sometimes not as the two obvious tracks are Sandy's "who knows where time goes" and Cousin's "Two week slast summer.

Not much longer after recording this album, Sandy Denny would leave Strawbs and join Fairport Convention and she'd be on her way to stardom and her ultimate destiny. As mentioned above, this just one more folk rock album cluttering your shelves, but it should get the occasional spin, since most progheads like to hear Sandy's voice. Nothing essential and reserved for Strawbs unconditional fans.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#185836)
Posted Wednesday, October 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars My review is based on the original vinyl, and I really don't see a reason to upgrade. For one thing, the CD version seems to track the "Sandy and the Strawbs" CD-only release from around 1990 rather than remain faithful to the original. For another, in spite of its arguable status as the first British folk rock album (not release), it's really more of a musty bespectacled historian's fancy. Pairing Cousins' compositions with female vocals is like picking Peter Hammill over Annie Haslam to sing in Renaissance. So much of Cousins' own angst comes through in his interpretations, and Sandy Danny sounds bright and cheery for the most part. She was made for Fairport, a group with a much more communal structure and much less sense of direction.

Not surprisingly, the best of the lot comes in the form of the few tracks that are precursors to Cousins' story songs, such as the brilliant "How Everyone but Sam was a Hypocrite". But even Tony Hooper weighs in on the quintessential Beatles-esque piece "Always on My Mind". Elsewhere, Sandy tries unsuccessfully to turn "Tell me What You See in Me" into a piece of sunny flower power optimism of the sort against which Cousins spoke in "Round and Round" 6 short years later.

If you are seeking more clues as to the origins of Strawbs, the "Preserves Uncanned" set is a better bet, but if you like Sandy Denny's voice and simple 60s tunes, this grassroots effort could be a lost gem for you.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#212739)
Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Interesting historical album. A meeting of two prog folk icons. Oddly enough, this album was made before either Sandy Denny or Dave Cousins had any big exposure. In fact, it was recorded before Strawbs debut, but only released in 1973 at the heigh of success of both artists. I was always very curious about this work since I was a fan of Strawbs and Fairport Convention. However, All Our Own Work bears little resemblance of the sound those artists were making in the 70´s.

I bought a copy of this CD in the early 90´s. My (american label) Hannibal copy has some liner notes saying it has extra tracks, though it does not mention which are they. The track sequence is totally different from the original LP and the cover is also not a reprodution of the LP artwork, but a new, ugly one Two of the vynil cuts were missing too (Wild Strawberries and Sweetling) while including three more for the CD (Poor Jimmy Wilson, Two Weeks Last Summer, I´ve Been My Own Worst Friend). Judging by the quality of the recording, only Poor Jimmy Wilson seems to derive from another session (probably a Cousin´s solo demo).

I was surprised of how powerful already was Denny´s voice by the time she did this sessions. The music was just the 60´s average melodic folk done with only simple acoustic instrumentation (guitars and double bass, with drums provided by a session musician and strings added on some tracks). The vocal harmonies are surprisingly good and startling: sometimes reminding me of groups like Peter Paul & Mary or, as in the case of On My Way, The Mamas And Papas. There is even one raga influenced track (Tell Me What You See In Me), complete with sitar and tabla.

In the end I found this CD to be very pleasant and well perfomed but definitly non essential. Quite nice, ok, but It is also quite derivative. Although no track here is bad- or even weak - Cousins was obviously still finding his way into becoming one of the best and most inventive folk songwriters of his generation. And Sandy Denny did a much better performance within the format of an electric prog band like Fairport Convention.

3 stars.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#275135)
Posted Sunday, March 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars 'All Our Own Work' represents the earliest studio work of the Strawbs, shortened from the Strawberry Hill Boys around the same time band leader Dave Cousins heard the young and aspiring singer-songwriter Sandy Denny at an acoustic folk show and promptly convinced her to join the group.

These tracks were recorded in Copenhagen in the latter half of 1967, and even by then (given the late Ms. Denny's growing popularity and ambition) the group arrangement was clearly destined to be short-lived. And in fact she departed before the band was even able to shop the record to a label and found her true launching pad to fame with Fairport Convention the following spring.

The sound on these songs is very firmly rooted in the mid-sixties, and musically is miles away from anything the band would do in later years. Cousins' musical experience at the time was mostly an odd combination of skiffle, bluegrass and acoustic folk, while Denny was pretty much a predestined folk-rock goddess in the process of working out the details. But here there seems to generally be an emphasis on recording something marketable which manifests as a hodge-podge of tunes that alternate between Beatles-clone pop, mellow acoustic folk, and an occasional nod to the fast-growing folk-rock sounds coming out of the American West Coast in the form of Simon & Garfunkel, the Mamas & the Papas, the Byrds, Judy Collins and so on.

"On My Way" seems to portend the beginning of a grand career for the fledgling band, delivered with electric guitar and layered harmonies very much in the then-popular folk-rock vein and dominated by Denny's vocals in unrestrained youthful prime. Such was not to be the case of course, but (despite Ken Gudmand's completely uninspired garage-band drumming) the song delivers its intended commercial appeal nonetheless.

One of the few gems on this record comes with track two in the form of an early version of the Sandy Denny trademark song "Who Knows Where the Time Goes", recorded even before Judy Collins discovered it. This has of course become the song most associated with Denny and her role as a British folk-rock icon. It's basically a solo tune as Ms. Denny both sings and plays acoustic guitar, but even in 1967 Cousins clearly saw its inclusion as a 'no-brainer'.

For anyone who hasn't figured it out by now, Sandy Denny dominates this record much as she would those released during her two tenures with Fairport Convention, with Fotheringay and really as with everything she ever did during her short life. Songs like "Tell Me What You See in Me", "Stay Awhile", "All I Need is You" and "Nothing Else Will Do" all show Denny not only laying down luscious vocal tracks but clearly influencing the song arrangements into a poppish, acoustic/electric blended style that would have been quite popular in the States had the band managed to pull off a record contract and international tour, which at the time was as likely as landing a man on the moon. True to the fast pace of change in the sixties though, both would happen just months later.

"Always on my Mind" and "Sweetling" show what the band was capable of without Denny. Both are Tony Hooper compositions, and he delivers both lead acoustic guitar and vocals on both. Hooper would leave the band by 1972 and the reason why is pretty apparent as, while these are folk-rock tunes in the style of the day, they are also both unremarkable and clearly demonstrate the conservative nature of Hooper's songwriting style. Not surprisingly today he performs with the barn-dance band Pitchfork and sidelines with the traditional British folk group Misalliance.

The band and especially Cousins can't resist showing off their fast-picking bluegrass chops and does on the acoustic instrumental "Wild Strawberries", a pleasant toe-tapping tune but really the last-hurrah to the band's musical past.

Two other tunes made it onto the Pickwick vinyl when it was finally released, the Beatlesque "How Everyone but Sam was a Hypocrite" and the lightly country-influenced Sandy Denny showcase ballad "And You Need Me", a Cousins composition but one that serves to do nothing more than highlight the spectacular depth of Ms. Denny's vocal talents. Joe Boyd would reissue this album with string treatments in 1991 and that version of this song is nothing short of breathtaking, and both versions are highlights on the massive Sandy Denny boxed-set issued in 2010.

While the album was not released at the time, Dave Cousins would leverage the studio recordings to land a deal with Herb Alpert's A&M label the following spring and in doing so become the first British act signed to the company. By then Denny had departed which would lead to complications for the band when they delivered their self-titled debut to the label, but regardless this is a great but mostly forgotten example of a briefly popular folk- rock sound that has the added benefit of showcasing the woman who would help define the genre for a generation. A solid three stars despite the somewhat dated sound today, and recommended as required listening to any fan of British folk-rock.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#499563)
Posted Monday, August 08, 2011 | Review Permalink

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