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String Driven Thing

Prog Folk

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String Driven Thing Please Mind Your Head album cover
2.65 | 18 ratings | 4 reviews | 22% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side A:
1. Overdrive (3:10)
2. Without You (4:00)
3. Josephine (4:10)
4. Mrs. O'Reily (3:40)
5. Man of Means (2:46)

Side B:
1. Black Eyed Queen (4:43)
2. Keep On Movin' (3:38)
3. Timpani for the Devil (4:15)
4. To Know You Is to Love You (6:25)

Total Time 36:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Grahame Smith / violin, viola
- Kim Beacon / vocals
- James Exell / bass, high vocals
- Colin Fairly / drums, percussion, low vocals
- Alun Roberts / guitar, banjo, bass vocals

- Harry McDonald / keyboards
- Alan Skidmore / saxophone
- Cuddley Juddley / flute, bagpipes

Releases information

Charisma CAS 1097

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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STRING DRIVEN THING Please Mind Your Head ratings distribution

(18 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(11%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (28%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

STRING DRIVEN THING Please Mind Your Head reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars As the Adams had left SDT, Grahame Smith was left to rebuild the group from scratch: this was a group of relative unknowns, but all of them seemed to be seasoned veterans and the group became very quickly different. Note that the new drummer Colin Fairley has no relation with their older drummer Billy Fairly. Their first album did not augur well for progheads with the ugly artwork and once the disc on your turntable, your fears are confirmed: their new sound is completely different, vastly different from the folk-induced prog: this is downright mostly AOR, with only Smith's violin to make a slight difference.

The first side of the vinyl is a typical AOR sound that will dominate the second part of the decade and is largely forgettable, even if Josephine and Without You have catchy hooks. Mrs O'Reily is Supertramp-sounding with guest pianist McDonald. Actually it is fairly surprising that he was not a member of the group as his keyboard works are on almost every track of the album. The second side starts out much the same with a fairly amusing Black Eyed Queen and its doo-wop chorus. But things change quite a bit with Timpani For The Devil, where Grahame Smith starts a lengthy Paganini-influenced violin solo ending in an electronic percussion/violin duo. Easily the most interesting track on the album, but hardly enough to warrant a search for the album, unless really interested in Smith's works. The album closes on a Stevie Wonder cover, which happens to be the next best tracks to its predecessor.

So the album ends in a better mode than it started, but when the second best track is a Stevie Wonder cover, one gets a good idea on how interesting the album is for a proghead: you guessed it, not much ;-) . As far as I know this album and its follow-up have not received a CD reissue and believe me, you are not missing much. At most a 2-on-1 would suffice for completist. Not much can be said in favour of this version of SDT as Smith is the leader but does not participate to the songwriting (except for his showcase Devil piece) and the others are clearly not very adventurous.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Going Free

When Chris and Pauline Adams left String Driven Thing after the release of "The Machine that cried", the heart of the band essentially went with them. To his credit, Grahame Smith rebuilt String Driven Thing from scratch, but the truth was that this was a completely different band using the same name (per Fleetwood Mac). The new line up recorded two albums together; unfortunately this was the poorer one.

Vocal duties were taken on by Kim Beacon (here referred to as Kimberley) who was the principal vocalist on Tony Banks' first solo album. Beacon's vocals represented a fundamental change from those of the Adams family, implying an immediately apparent change of sound for the band. This, combined with a general move towards a more orthodox pop rock direction alienated many of SDT's original fans. In fairness though, the songs here are not that good to start with.

Things start off brightly enough with "Overdrive" a mid-paced pop song with a fine harmonic chorus. Unfortunately, that's about it. Songs such as "Without you" try to be more adventurous, with Smith's violin and viola contributions at least moving the songs on from being totally average rock, but ultimately even the best performances cannot disguise a poor song.

Personally, I find the late Kim Beacon to be one of the finest rock singers of his day, his voice being a cross between Paul Rogers and Rod Stewart. Indeed, this album is probably best described as a second rate FREE album. Even he though cannot breath life into the decidedly average "Josephine", the playful but dull pop of "Mrs. Reilly", or any of the other anonymous compositions here.

Apart from "Overdrive", only "Timpani for the devil" offers anything different or mildly interesting. This instrumental piece draws in brief classical influences as Grahame Smith gets loose on his violin while drummer Colin Fairley expresses himself. In truth, the workout is mediocre, but it is at least a change.

Fortunately, String Driven Thing would come good again with their final album "Keep yer 'and on it", but this one can be safely passed by. Silly sleeve too, with a tennis rackets theme.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I'd like to start this review by saying that prog fans trying to find "that prog classic" from String Driven Thing will be up for a disappointment, because they are very far from that, except for a couple of more "adventurous" songs in each album. That doesn't mean that the band is not enjoyable ... (read more)

Report this review (#2592790) | Posted by mickcoxinha | Tuesday, September 7, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I'm not a proghead like the previous reviewer, but I have been a fan of String Driven Thing since the early seventies and have all of their vinyl. I rate any given album based on the amount of time it sat on my tuntable being listened to. Of all the group's album's, this was by far my favori ... (read more)

Report this review (#265792) | Posted by arachnophobiac | Saturday, February 13, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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