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Strawbs Blue Angel album cover
2.76 | 37 ratings | 9 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Blue Angel (11:13)
(i) Divided (ii) Half Worlds Apart (iii) The Rest
2. Oh So Sleepy (3:44)
3. Further Down the Road (3:25)
4. There Will Come the Day (6:05)
5. Strange Day Over the Hill (3:56)
6. Cry No More (3:18)
7. The Plain (5:48)
8. Do You Remember (3:12)
9. Rhythm of the Night (3:19)
10. Morning Glory (4:52)
11. Sealed With a Traitor's Kiss (2:57)
12. Lay Down (4:09)
13. The King (2:38)

Total time: 58:33

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Cousins / vocals, acoustic guitar, piano (11)
- Brian Willoughby / guitar
- Dave Lambert / guitar & vocals (2,9)
- Blue Weaver / keyboards, programming (4), orchestration (10)
- Andy Richards / keyboards (13)
- Chas Cronk / bass (2,3,6,8-10,13), backing vocals (4,9,13), bass pedals (7), programming (7,8)
- Rod Demick / bass & backing vocals (1,4,5,12), harmonica (5)
- Rod Coombes / drums (2,9)
- Richard Hudson / drums, (1,5,12), vocals (1,4,5,12)
- Tony Fernandez / drums (3,10,13) tom-toms (7)

- Mary Hopkin / vocals (1,3,4,6,8,10,12)
- Cathryn Craig / vocals (4)
- Terry Cassidy / vocals (4)
- Roy Hill / vocals (9)
- Jana Heller / vocals (9)
- Tommy Lundy / vocals (9)
- Maddy Prior / vocals (13)
- Rick Kemp / vocals (13)

Releases information

Artwork: Rod Green with Geraldine Parkinson (photo)

CD Witchwood Records - WRCD2008 (2003, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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STRAWBS Blue Angel ratings distribution

(37 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(19%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (27%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

STRAWBS Blue Angel reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The new millenium sadly has not brought much new in the way of Strawbs material. Never mind because their contribution over the years has been quite a humbling experience. Blue Angel has the remake of Cousin's classic from his solo Two Weeks Last Summer of the early 70's. It is not a bad version but not nearly as good as the original. The album seems to be pieced together from Cousin's collaboration with Brian Willoghby on The Bridge. It therefore has a few remakes of songs already well and truly established with some new material also. Nothing dynamic except the cover.
Review by soundsweird
3 stars If you already own "The Bridge" by Cousins & Willoughby (I do), then there's little reason to buy this disc. Most of the songs here appeared first on that album, and the versions are not very different. Since the earlier album is admittedly obscure and difficult to obtain, this release may be a blessing for many Strawbs fans. The new version of "Blue Angel" (from Cousins 1972 solo album "Two Weeks Last Summer") has more punch, but is still just too darn long with its oft-repeated chorus. For me, the real gem is the radically-altered version of "Sealed With a Traitor's Kiss". Cousin's emotional delivery is well-suited to the lyric, and his clearly diminished vocal talents actually enhance the song. Four stars for those who don't own "The Bridge".
Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Having never heard Dave Cousin's solo album "Two Weeks Last Summer", I was a bit curious about this re-working of an old oeuvre, fearing the worst. I was expecting also some real surprises knowing that this solo album was recorded at the same time when Strawbs were disintegrating around the mediocre BATS album (which curiously enough became their best-selling album).

I still have not heard the original work of the album, but I gather from listening to Blue Angel, that it stuck relatively close the Strawbs sound. Actually , from looking at the credits on this album, it looks more like a collaboration between Cousins and Willoughby accompanied by Strawbs members of two different generations, with Hudson and Weaver from the GNW album and Cronk, Coombes and Lambert from the H&H album. Anyway, the Blue Angel album is very confusing refelecting well the mayhem around Cousins around the time of recording. But clearly there is a strong aural link from this album (or most likely its original form) and Strawbs album such BATS and later H&H: some countryish ambiance of BATS (the awful Strange Day Over The Hill), a long mini-suite reminding H&H or Ghosts albums and an over-all typical third era Strawbs, but also its share of "average tracks like Do You remember, Rhythm Of The Night, Morning Glory or so-called bonus track The King. So if you are into such albums from them, this is likely to please you, but be warned that there are some very profound sound changes (in the drumming most notably which sound a bit too early 90's, which is always better than the 80's drums sounds), but the late 70's Strawbs spirit is there. Even up to a re-make of their hit Lay Down - just as awful as the original but twice the length - this album is rather average de chez Average.

Blue Angel mini-suite is a typical treat for fans (you'd swear this was Renaissance man Hawken on piano), while the almost 6-min The Plain holds some superb drama and Come The Day cannot save enough to be the day of grace.

Tooooooo bad there are so many shadows on what has been changed from the original oeuvre (and the ugly and stupid artwork with the ugly mutt), but if you are a later 70's fan, this might just be worth your investigation since to me this might just be a long-lost Strawbs album. For my part, I will look for the original work, before really judging this album, so tentatively and temporarily: 2,5 stars really!!! Just not enough good tracks to warrant a higher rating.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Those were the days

"Blue angel" is quite a confused and confusing album, due to its rather convoluted background. The majority of the tracks previously appeared on a 1994 album called "The bridge" which was credited to Cousins and Willoughby. The line up on that album was augmented by a number of current and former Strawbs members including Chas Cronk, Blue Weaver and Richard Hudson. Mary Hopkin also featured on the album, her wonderful vocals offering an instant reminder of the earliest days of the Strawbs when they boasted Sandy Denny in their line up. Cousins and Willoughby toured as the Electric Strawbs and the Acoustic Strawbs at various times, joined by other band members including Dave Lambert. Lambert makes a couple of appearances on this album, joined on both the tracks by another former Strawbs member Rod Coombes.

The result is something of a glorious reunion album, with John Ford and Rick Wakeman being the only notable absentees.

The songs here which are taken from "The bridge" are effectively the same versions, although some have been given a fresh coat of paint by way of re-recorded backing tracks. While not all the tracks from "The bridge" have been included, "Blue angel" also contains other tracks which did not appear on that album. The most significant of these is the title track. The song "Blue angel" originally appeared on Cousins sadly under- heard solo album "Two weeks last summer" from 1972. This 11 minute opus stands proud alongside the Strawbs epics from around that time such as "Ghosts" and "Autumn". Indeed it is similarly structured to those tracks with three distinct sections. Willoughby adds some excellent lead guitar to the piece, and Hopkin's vocals offer fine counterpoint to the distinctive voice of Dave Cousins.

Willougby's guitar work provides a strong rock dimension throughout the album, the intro to "Rhythm of the night" for example being incisive and powerful. The power of the music comes across in various ways. On "There will come the day" it is in the form of a wall of sound like that on the re-recorded "Tell me what you see in me", with no less than seven lead vocalists listed for the song. "The plain" is more sparse in terms of sound, but rendered just as powerful by the vocal performance of Cousins, which approaches his performance on songs like "New world" and "Hangman and the papist".

There are of course more delicate passages too. "Morning glory" once again benefits from a superb performance by Mary Hopkin (famed for being the first signing of the Beatles Apple label and the single "Those were the days"). This wonderfully haunting song has a simple but infectious chorus. "Sealed with a traitor's kiss" which originally appeared on the "Deadlines" album is pared back here to a stark duet of Cousins on vocals and piano and Willoughby on guitar.

The band's first hit single "Lay down" is dusted off and given a rousing update, the version here having a distinct party feel. As a "bonus" track, a single from 1980 featuring Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span is remixed and added. The song had previously appeared in a different form on the "Ringing down the years" album, but Prior's duet with Cousins here is worthy of the admission price alone.

There are many highlights throughout the album, indeed to find fault with such a collection would be churlish. While the way the album came about may be confused and suggest it may lack coherence, nothing could be further from the truth. This is a genuine Strawbs album which sits proudly alongside their glory years of the 1970's.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars New Strawbs material was quite a rare item at the time of this release. Twelve years separate their last original album Don't Say Goodbye and this one which features mostly new versions of existing material (be Strawbs or Cousin-Willoughby solo work).

The centrepiece is of course the long opener Blue Angel. Cousin is really doing a great job here. Each element is well on its place: his voice is always good, the melody is catchy and the folk aspects are much closer than on previous releases. It will overshadow the whole of this album which features both rock music (which is not the genre in which the band excels) as well as folk.

Another good song is There Will Come The Day although the chorus is quite childish and seems to have been sung on a Sunday morning at the parish around the corner. The country style Strange Day Over The Hill is a song you wouldn't like to hear I guess; but in this case, you know what to do.

The vocal work from Mary Hopkin is also pleasant and contrasts nicely with Cousin's nasal one (there are plenty of guests on this release who are helping as well).

The overall atmosphere of this album doesn't succeed to raise my enthusiasm. Rhythm Of The Night is a rocking song which sounds as if it was coming out Springsteen's repertoire. But this song is OK, even if on the pop-rock side.

The very much Beatles-esque Morning Glory has a fine melody as long as the chorus doesn't appear. Once this happens, the church feeling strikes back again (but with such a title, it might be nothing but normal).

To summarize my feeling: Blue Angel is a very good song. And there are no others like it (or even close) here. Two stars.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars There will come a day

The eleven minute title track opens this album. This song is a remake of a song that was originally featured on Dave Cousins' first solo album Two Weeks Last Summer (on which Rick Wakeman played, among many others). This is an excellent song and reminds in style of such great Strawbs classics as Autumn and Ghosts. This is an excellent version of this somewhat forgotten epic. If you don't have Two Weeks Last Summer, and can't find it, this album is worth it for this song alone.

The majority of the songs here were previously featured on an album by Dave Cousins and Brian Willoughby called The Bridge. I have never heard that album, and it seems to be hard to find. It is, of course, all the more likely that you will get to hear something if it is put out under the Strawbs name than if it remains in the discographies of obscure solo and side-projects. These songs are mostly quite good, but nothing too remarkable and not particularly progressive. According to the bands website, Oh, So Sleepy was not even an original when it was featured on that The Bridge album, but was a leftover from the Deep Cuts sessions. A remake of a remake, that is. Hence, the inspiration cannot have been flowing as it should have in the band during the 80's, 90's, and early 2000's. But this time the end result is actually very good and you are not that likely to have heard all of these songs before.

The three last tracks, Sealed With a Traitor's Kiss, Lay Down and The King have also been previously released on Deadlines, Bursting At The Seams and Ringing Down The Years respectively. Again, for people who don't have those albums, Blue Angel might be well worth the effort. But these albums are much more likely to be in the collections of Strawbs fans than the rare The Bridge. As far as I understand, There Will Come The Day is the only song on this whole album that is not a remake of some previously recorded song.

I find this a quite good and mostly enjoyable album, even if not very progressive. It certainly was at the time of its release the best new Strawbs studio album since Ghosts from 1975!

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars During most of the 1990s, Strawbs were a band largely in name only, a revolving cast of members rallying around Dave Cousins when full blown tours were in the offing. In 1995, he and longtime associate Brian Willoughby produced "The Bridge", which commands quite a price among collectors these days. It included the expected quotient of acoustic numbers showcasing Willoughby's adept fingering with a graft of hard rock, never a strong suit for Cousins. In the meantime, he had written several other songs but hardly enough to make an album on its own. While Strawbs aren't exactly a big name anymore, they remain a bigger draw than any of their individual parts, hence the marketing idea of Witchwood records to dress up "the Bridge" with more typically multi-layered new arrangements and a few new songs, along with the reworking of a true classic (the title cut) and call it Strawbs.

Did it work? Well, yes and no. It's hard to improve on the epic "Blue Angel", originally from Dave Cousins' 1972 solo album, but the decision to make the arrangement far lusher than before was a good one, even if it drags a little towards the end. Some who heard both versions at roughly the same time prefer this one, so who am I to argue? Elsewhere, "There will Come the Day" is a standout, coming close to the glory days of the 1970s. "The Plain" is a suspenseful Cousins folk rock ballad, and "Further Down the Road" boasts a divine melody. But the collaborations with Mary Hopkin sometimes come off as effete and yet glossy, as on "Cry no More" and "morning Glory". The rockers don't work too well, the best of these being "Rhythm of the Night", which Springsteen could have turned into a hit in his day. The remake of "Lay Down" is unnecessary, but bonus "The King", featuring Maddy Prior, actually dates back to 1979 and is a fine holiday song.

Hard to place stylistically and chronologically, "Blue Angel" is at turns soaring and fallen, so averages out to good but hardly heavenly.

Latest members reviews

2 stars The only place to go from here is up. Well, that's what I said to myself the first time I heard this strange concoction from Dave Cousins and company. And I mean company, as in battalion. Or perhaps legion is the proper word. All I know is that back in 2003, Dave assembled the Acoustic Strawb ... (read more)

Report this review (#1867392) | Posted by SteveG | Wednesday, January 17, 2018 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This record is in fact more or less a reissue of 'The Bridge', a solo album of Dave Cousins with Brian Willoughby. The differences are: 1.- Two songs (those more acoustic) have been removed to fill more in the concept of the group. 2.- Some of the songs have re-recorded backings, with several Strawb ... (read more)

Report this review (#19628) | Posted by Paco Fox | Tuesday, February 10, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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