Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Strawbs - Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session CD (album) cover



Prog Folk

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
4 stars One of the harder issues to balance in an album review is determining how essential a given work is to an artist's fans.

The Strawbs Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session is just such a compilation in question. As opposed to Live At The BBC Vol Two, Vol One is a single CD that contains all of the Strawbs' radio session recordings for broadcast on various BBC radio show such as Top Gear hosted by the legendary John Peel. In his autobiography, Exercising Ghosts, Strawbs' founder and leader Dave Cousins expressed sincere gratitude at being given the chance to perform on the BBC in both the Strawbs and the band's predecessor, The Strawberry Hill Boys. Cousins' stated that the Strawbs put 100% effort in their BBC performances as this supplemented actual album playing time that was cut down owing to an agreement with the UK's Musician's Union. And it shows. Every broadcast performance is easily discernible as a top notch performance from a group that really had only a couple of shots of getting a complicated song like The Battle right in the three hour time limit that was afforded each song by the BBC session producers and studios.

"The Battle", from this first CD, is easily it's highpoint as future Strawbs' producer Tony Visconti brought in both Clare Deniz on cello and the great Rick Wakeman on organ to play on this daunting song, and the band and guests easily nail the performance given the limitations of the BBC recording studio's two or three track recording equipment. These sessions would be the first contact of Cousins with both guests, who would ultimately join The Strawbs, albeit briefly. The compilation includes a great version of "Another Day" that's featured on the group's "Dragonfly" album. Cousins and Tony Hooper are in great voice harmonizing on this gem of a folk rock song and the production is better than that found on the studio version as the stereo image is balanced by the mono mastering and just the right touch of reverb is added to the vocals.

As time passes, both the Strawbs and the BBC recording studios get noticeably better as does Cousins' songwriting and the addition of later band members like John Ford, Blue Weaver and Dave Lambert easily fortifies their playing ability. Especially on partial jamming songs like the wonderful "Is It Today, Lord?" while the second recorded version of "New World" is even more menacing with just Cousins and Toby Hooper handling the vocals while singing over the ominous chords emitting from Blue Weaver's icy Mellotron. Indeed, the earlier version of New World contrasts with the later on offer and shows the development of Weaver's multi tracked mellotron accompaniments and the development of Cousin's phrasing when singing the song's verses. The result being a fully developed version like that found on the studio album Grave New World. another gem is a heavy version of "Tomorrow" that far surpasses the studio version, with thundering bass lines from Ford. Even the hackneyed chart hit "Part Of The Union" receives an excellent mulit tracked group chorus that rivals the original studio version.

Great stuff. But again, we return to the question of how essential is Live At the BBC Vol One: In Session? Well, if you have all of the original albums, then this compilation is superfluous as it simply does not contain any significant recordings of historical value, as opposed to the one off folk rock songs found on the celebrated Fairport Convention BBC sessions album titled Heyday from the same era, as an example. Despite BBC vol. 1 being a personal favorite 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 is a reasonable rating for these well played and recorded (and re-mastered) session songs.

Report this review (#1388533)
Posted Friday, March 27, 2015 | Review Permalink

STRAWBS Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of STRAWBS Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.