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4 stars Acoustic Wonder

I did not expect a lot from this Strawbs album. Because they released a lot of acoustic stuff in the last 10 years, some good some a little bit poor. But as a long time fan of this band (I've saw Strawbs In Quebec City in 74/75? and this will stay in my mind forever) so I've decided to give it a try on iTunes samplers and I like what I heard, so I bought it.

And I am totally charmed by this. First the sound is superb and crystal clear. The recording is just right for this kind of acoustic interpretation of classic Strawbs and the few new songs it contains.

It is played with lot of energy and passion. There is no really week moment throughout. It flows into your ears like gold honey. The new acoustic arrangement of classic songs like Ghosts, Midnight Sun, Autumn, Witchwood and Benedictus are just beautiful and all songs got it's little something that makes you feel good (and for me, a bit nostalgic).

If you have just one acoustic set of Strawbs to get, this is the one. 4 stars.

Report this review (#591041)
Posted Sunday, December 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Acoustic Bliss. This is the last album I listened to of newer Strawbs's material and I'm really taken with the acoustic bug. This compilation is filled with some of the best material from the out of print Baroque And Roll and Painted Sky albums as well as some stellar unreleased material. The songs were remastered by long time bassist Chas Cronk giving the guitars a wonderful bell like sound as well as added detail to both the instruments and vocals. All fourteen tracks are outstanding with Autumn and Ghosts being the high lights, naturally. I'm aware that many reviewers feel cold toward the less prog all acoustic phase of the band but I know from an interview that Dave Cousins' would love to be remembered as a great folk songwriter and albums like this may ultimately help him to achieve that goal
Report this review (#1161340)
Posted Monday, April 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review Nš 535

"Acoustic Gold" is a compilation of Strawbs that was released in 2011. It's a special compilation of Strawbs because it only has versions of acoustic material made by them all over the years. It contains songs from several works of the band in which some are studio versions, others are live versions and where others are previously unreleased material. However, we mustn't forget that the band in the last years of their musical career had released a lot of acoustic stuff.

The musicians that are involved on "Acoustic Gold" are Dave Cousins (vocals, acoustic guitars, autoharp, dulcimer and banjo), Brian Willoughby (acoustic guitars), Dave Lambert (vocals, acoustic guitars and ebow) and Chas Cronk (vocals, 12 string guitars, acoustic bass, keyboards, foot pedals and programming). But, are also involved on this compilation, Rick Wakeman (piano), Ian Cutler (fiddle), John Young mellotron flutes) and Robert Kirby (string arrangements).

"Acoustic Gold" is a compilation album with twelve tracks released in the following original albums: "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus" is from their debut "Strawbs". "Josephine, For Better Or For Worse" is from their second "Dragonfly". "A Glimpse Of Haven" and "Witchwood" are from their third "From The Witchwood". "Benedictus" is from their fourth "Grave New World". "Midnight Sun" and "Autumn" are from their seventh "Hero And Heroine". "Ghosts" and "Grace Darling" are from their eighth "Ghosts". "Evergreen" is from their thirteenth "Don't Say Goodbye". "Cold Steel" is from their eighteenth "Deja Fou". "Copenhagen" is from their twentieth "Dancing To The Devil's Beat".

"Acoustic Gold" has also two "Heritage Gold" bonus tracks, "Beat The Retreat" that is from "Don't Say Goodbye" and "Ringing Down The Years" that is from "Ringing Down The Years". Both are two previously unreleased versions. "Ghosts" is divided into "Sweet Dreams", "Night Light" and "Guardian Angel". It's a gorgeous melodic track with dark lyrics. This is one of the best tracks ever made by them. This is the version from "Acoustic Strawbs Baroque & Roll". "Copenhagen" is a beautiful acoustic work. The folk atmosphere adds a beautiful timbre to the song. This is pure sophisticated folk music. This is the version from "Dancing To The Devil's Beat". "A Glimpse Of Haven" is a powerful song and an excellent example of Wakeman's keyboard talents. This is the version from "Live At Hampton Court". "Midnight Sun" is a short melodic folk ballad. It's an enjoyable musical moment. This is the version from "Hero & Heroine In Ascencia". "Evergreen" is a beautiful song. A bitter retrospective look at a failed relationship contains some of Cousins more poignant lyrics. This is a beautiful and simple interpretation. This is the version from "Acoustic Strawbs Baroque & Roll". "Grace Darling" is a beautiful piece, one of the most beautiful and celestial ballads I heard in my life. This is another great track of one of the best albums of Strawbs. This is a version previously unreleased. "Cold Steel" is a Dave Lambert's song, and as happened with many songs of him, it's a simple and pure rock song. This is a version taken from "Painted Sky". "Autumn" is divided into "Heroine's Theme", "Deep Summer Sleep" and "The Winter Long". It's varied, with great moments, a sublime song for all Mellotron lovers, in its original version. Here, it's also amazing. This is the version from "Full Bloom". "Josephine, For Better Or For Worse" is a calm and beautiful folk song. It seems this is a song rescued from the outtakes of the first musical sessions of their debut studio album with an attractive and nice new acoustic treatment. This is the version from "40th Anniversary Celebration Vol 1: Strawberry Fayre". "Witchwood" is a calm and beautiful song, very secret and mysterious, in the style of the medieval and Celtic music. It has a wonderful pastoral melody that can catch the attention of everybody. This is the version from the DVD "Live At Hampton Court". "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus" is an interesting song with strange lyrics. It's a very good song and one of the best moments on the debut album of Strawbs. This is a previously unreleased version. "Benedictus" is similar to "A Glimpse Of Heaven" of "From The Witchwood". It's a very well constructed song with an incredible pleasant melody, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and nice vocal harmonies. This is the version from "Painted Sky".

Conclusion: "Acoustic Gold" is a great compilation of Strawbs. It has on its tracks lots of the energy and passion that the group has offer us for so many years, even being an acoustic album. It's also very interesting and complete because it represents very well the entire career of the band with practically a song representing almost of their studio albums. By the other hand, "Acoustic Gold" hasn't really a weak musical moment throughout. The new acoustic musical arrangements of some of the classic songs from the group are all beautiful and great and they don't spoil anything of those moments. The great highlights are "Ghosts", "A Glimpse Of Heaven", "Autumn" and "Benedictus". But I think the two "Heritage Gold" bonus tracks have less quality, and personally, I really don't like very much of them. Howsoever, I think this an excellent addition to all prog lovers, especially for those like me, who love acoustic albums.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#2755251)
Posted Thursday, May 19, 2022 | Review Permalink

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