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String Driven Thing

Prog Folk

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String Driven Thing String Driven Thing album cover
3.20 | 25 ratings | 3 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Circus (4:48)
2. Fairground (3:22)
3. Hooked on the Road (2:56)
4. Easy to Be Free (3:06)
5. Jack Diamond (5:20)
6. Let Me Down (4:03)
7. The Last Blue Yodel (3:56)
8. My Real Hero (3:56)
9. Regent Street Incident (3:54)
10. There You Are (2:58)

Total Time 38:19

Bonus tracks on Ozit reissue:
11. Eddie (live in Switzerland '73)
12. Let Me Down
13. Then I Met the Lady
14. My Real Hero
15. To See You
16. Circus (live in London '95)
17. Pride

Line-up / Musicians

- Chris Adams / guitars, vocals
- Pauline Adams / vocals, percussion
- Colin Wilson / bass, guitars, banjo
- Grahame Smith / violin, viola

Releases information

LP Charisma CAS 1062 (1972)
CD Ozit Records re-issue with bonus tracks

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy STRING DRIVEN THING String Driven Thing Music

STRING DRIVEN THING String Driven Thing ratings distribution

(25 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

STRING DRIVEN THING String Driven Thing reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

After some years of trying to achieve some kind of success, SDT expanded from their trio into a quintet, as Mannion did not continue. Joining in is a future familiar figure of Graham Smith (future VdGG) on violin, and so are bassist Colin Wilson and drummer Bill Fairley (although not yet a full member on this album). So they found the Charisma label, home of many prog groups (Genesis, Audience, VdGG etyc..) and they were the second folk rock group to be signed with Newcastle Geordies of Lindisfarne. Graced with a strange and insanely baroque artwork depicting a freak show in a pub, the album is definitely one of interest for the site.

The album releases a strong pastoral mix somewhere between folk, country and good old RnR, giving birth to an acid-sounding electric folk dominated by Smith's violin work. Although not yet really progressive, this album has many excellent moments that will please the progressive folkhead. Starting off with the single Circus (which received wide acclaim and a price of single of the year), and the rather sweet Fairground, the rocky Hooked On The Road, the album sinks deep into the subject with the superb Easy To Be Free, the haunting Jack Diamond and the raunchy but poignant Let Me Down. The album seems to take a bit of a rest with Last Blue Yodell, but the typical raunchy folk of My Real Hero brings it back to life, even if the prog element is not present and the line "God does not play in a RnR band" repeated endlessly, while the Regent St Incident does not bring more prog. The album ends on a jazzy (slightly Dixie due to the banjo) song that is a bit out of context from the rest of the album.

While the album is not quite as good as its follow-up, it remains a good album and although not essential, it is worth a few spins.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars One last blue yodel then guys

Boy, does this album take me back. It is not so much about the music for me, as the memories it recalls. It is about sitting with friends listening to new and exciting albums by bands we had never heard of. The strange and original names of those bands only served to enhance the mystique which surrounded them. We are talking decades before the internet here, when finding out any information about a band was all but impossible, until they were featured in one of the weekly music publications.

String Driven Thing originated in my home town of Glasgow in Scotland, but I'm proud to say I discovered their music before I discovered their origins. Their history is chequered, and although they achieved a certain level of success, including touring as more or less equals with Genesis, they never truly gained the recognition they deserved.

The parallels with Genesis continue with this album, in that while it is generally regarded as their first, there was in fact a previous releases for another record label which failed to secure any recognition whatsoever. Recording was completed in just two weeks, the stylish sleeve illustration reportedly costing more than the making of the album.

The dominant features of the band are male and female lead vocalists plus frequent violin passages. When the male and female vocals sing in harmony the effect is very like that which Fleetwood Mac went on to perfect.

The album opens with a magnificent slice of loud rock. "Circus" has soaring violin, incisive lead vocals, and great harmonics. "Take me to the circus? I want to see the chimpanzee? the chimpanzee wants to see me", you really had to be there. They even have the audacity to sing "I'm going home to my mama, to listen to some String Driven Thing" (perhaps though without the capital letters!).

It is though the sheer diversity of the tracks on the album, if not within the tracks, which makes the album so irresistible. Right after "Circus", we are thrown into a Sandy Denny like lilting vocal performance by Pauline Adams on "Fairground" (also referred to as "Fairground at night"). Grahame Smith's violin work here is simply sensational, never dominating Adams vocal, but offering the perfect counterpoint.

The rock orientated songs and the softer ballad orientated numbers tend to more or less alternate. Tracks such as "Hooked on the road" (with wah wah violin!) and the magnificent "Jack Diamond" (the most progressive track on the album) are invigorating, they are exciting, damn it why did this band not conquer the world?

"Easy to be free" and "Very last blue yodell (sic)" may initially seem lightweight, even whimsical, but listen awhile and you discover perfectly written folk songs with eloquent lyrics and melodies which will intertwine themselves in your memory till they are totally embedded. Only midway through side two do things dip slightly, with a ubiquitous pop rock song ("My real hero"), and a late night drunken smoothy ("Regent Street incident").

After this album, SDT went on to record their finest album. Do not however allow that to overshadow this magnificent offering. This is a superb work.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Scottish band,which started as a pure folk act in 1967 in Glascow,led by husband and wife Chris and Pauline Adams.They were joined by guitarist John Mannion and released an eponymous LP in 1968.1970 sees the band moving to London along with a turn to a more rock sound.This would led to the departure of Mannion and the arrival of violinist Grahame Smith and bassist Colin Wilson.String Driven Thing signed with Charisma and recorded a new (again) eponymous album in 1972,produced by The Who's and The Kinks' producer Shel Talmy.

The album is half-acoustic,half-electric,definitely far from the progressive sound of rock, and offering among others heavy vocal content.The acoustic tracks have a strong rural feeling,featuring often the Classical-influenced playing of Grahame Smith and the acoustic guitars of Chris Adams with strong British Folk influences and more in a ballad style.On the electric ones,Graham Smith's violin is again on the front,but this time accompanied by Chris Smith's groovy guitar playing and the distinctive bass of Wilson.Unfortunately this specific style sounds rather dated,despite the ambitious approach of the band by mixing British Folk and Rock music.What actually is quite great are the nice vocals of the Smith pair with Chris alternating between a crying style on the electric ones and dreamy,sensitive chords on the acoustic ones and Pauline having always an ethereal voice.Still these cant save the album of not growing well through the sand of time.

For 1972 ''String driven thing'' might have been a decent work,but listening to this album nowadays one recognizes its magic is lost.With no significant surprises,a standard sound throughout and a rather secure overall style,the album heads only to Folk Rock collectors of this world.

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