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HERO AND HEROINE

Strawbs

Prog Folk


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Strawbs Hero And Heroine album cover
4.12 | 215 ratings | 36 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Autumn: Heroine's Theme, Deep Summer's Sleep, The Winter Long (8:26)
2. Sad Young Man (4:07)
3. Just Love (3:40)
4. Shine On Silver Sun (2:46)
5. Hero And Heroine (3:20)
6. Midnight Sun (3:12)
7. Out In The Cold (3:17)
8. Round And Round (4:44)
9. Lay A Little Light On Me (3:27)
10. Hero's Theme (2:27)

Total Time: 39:26
Bonus tracks (A&M re-issue only)
11. Still Small Voice (hitherto unreleased)
12. Lay A Little Light On Me (early version)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

Search STRAWBS Hero And Heroine tabs

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Cousins / vocals, acoustic & electric guitars
- Dave Lambert / vocals, acoustic & electric guitars
- John Hawken / piano, electric piano, organ, Mellotron, Synthesizer
- Chas Cronk / bass Synthesizer, vocals
- Rod Coombes / drums, Percussion, Vocals

Releases information

CD-A&M-540 935-2-UK-1998 (Remastered)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to SouthSideoftheSky for the last updates
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Deep CutsDeep Cuts
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DeadlinesDeadlines
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Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$3.61
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STRAWBS Hero And Heroine ratings distribution


4.12
(215 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
35%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
44%
Good, but non-essential (17%)
17%
Collectors/fans only (3%)
3%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

STRAWBS Hero And Heroine reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

Let's face it, can we still call this a Strawbs album? Only Cousins remains from the disastrous (artistically because commercially it was their best but their fortunes had crossed the Atlantic and were veering towards country rock) BATS album and even ex-Renaissance Hawken with its Trons orgies will not save the day. With the abandon of their folk days and with every album passing, The Strawbs are sounding more and more like second league BJH, Camel, Rare Bird and also-ran Fruup etc. Worse, they sound like Genesis and Moody Blues wannabes. But at least for this album, they will drop a bit their country rock sound they had acquired - Hawken is classically trained and probably did not care for those influences.

The mini-suite' has some moments but progheads will like it mostly because it is a mellotrons orgy, but if you take those away the track is just average and the honey-dripping lyrics are sickening. This lyric problem is actually ruining the whole album because of a weak excuse of a concept about love and the passing of the seasons. Sad Young Man (written by newcomer and drummer Coombes) is one of the better tracks and this alone should give you an idea on the quality of Cousins composing abilities by now. Two tracks sound like they were recorded by a lumber-jacking Status Quo if it was not for one or two tricky time sigs. The Strawbs keep on the Gabriel-Moody Blues verse-chorus, and by the fourth track they piano-organ duo (lifted from Procol Harum) is like flogging a dead horse. The title track is rather above average compared to the rest of the album, but again I suspect the Trons to be the culprit. Short, pastoral and folky Midnight Sun is breath of fresh air and brings you back to their early days, but this is unfortunately offset by the country-ish follow-up (mostly due to the harmonica) and the closer is also noteworthy. The rest of the tracks are best left un-mentioned.

If I am a bit harsh with this period of Strawbs, it is to prove a point, that most of the mid-70's Strawbs albums are NOT classics and rather deceiving for the demanding proghead. If you are of the other persuasion, then these will likely appeal to you. For me, by now, they were long history by this album as they had completely lost their soul. In the 90's The Strawbs have become little more than a country rock band as their DVD shows. How the mighty have fallen.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#19643) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 01, 2004

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Although the STRAWBS may be better represented in the AOR category, I still love and want to make note of this album. H&H blends soft caressing vocals with some real gorgeous songs, surrounded by a solid band. The STRAWBS bring elements from folk to progressive into "Hero and Heroine" giving this album a complete feel to it. "Autumn" is their epic track and remains one of my all time favorites.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#19645) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004

Review by Marcelo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars When I listened this album by the first time, the first chords made me think I had discovered an essential masterpiece. The first track "Autumn", a fantastic mini-suite, deserves a place among the greatest symphonic prog gems, but the rest decays a little bit. There are beautiful moments beyond the mentioned track, i.e. the homonymous theme, but we can find some poppy cuts and the typical STRAWBS' AOR feeling, blending folk and rock elements. Nevertheless, IMHO, it's the best point to start with the STRAWBS discography and their closest approach to symphonic sounds.

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Send comments to Marcelo (BETA) | Report this review (#19646) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Heroic

"Hero and Heroine" may be the Strawbs best album, but there again, I probably said that about "From the witchwood", "Ghosts", "Bursting at the seams", and "Grave new world".

What I like about "Hero and Heroine" is that it is a complete album, which flows perfectly from start to finish. The opening "Autumn" is wonderful, a three part piece which captures the mood of that season in a succession of melodious atmospheres, before climaxing in chorus I defy anyone to avoid singing along to.

"Shine on silver sun" was a minor hit single, but unlike the single "Part of the union" from "Bursting at the seams" stand proud as a classic Strawbs track. It is drenched in mellotron, with an uplifting, almost hymnal, chorus and a strong melody.

The title track is a lightning paced concoction of almost a cappella verses and a variety of instrumental "choruses". Cousins delivers one of his technically most accomplished vocal performances here, as he articulates the lyrics at great pace. The song is yet another venture by the band into uncharted territories, but it works superbly.

The two part final track, "Lay a little light on me/Hero's theme" has echoes of "Down by the sea" from the previous album, particularly in the chiming guitar, before ending with a backward recording of "Shine on silver sun".

Elsewhere, we have the powerful "Round and Round" with its disturbing lyrics; "I drew the blade across my wrist to see how it would feel", and the melodious "Out in the cold" complete with Cousins requisite adult lyrics.

There really is not a weak track here, the songs are generally straight forward and accessible, but with an underlying depth which belies their apparent simplicity. If you enjoy the music of the Strawbs and have not heard this one, you're in for a treat.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#19647) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Excellent follow up to Bursting at the Seams, what a great time to enjoy The Strawbs too. Hero and Heroine another great concept album. OK it is fragmented in parts with one off gems which negate what a concept album is truly about but the important thing is it still has that feel about it. ' Autumn' is an eight minute classic with thumping bass and slowly builds to Cousins singing in his prime with all the emotion he can muster.The Cousins/Lambert/Coombes/Hawken ( of Renaissance fame) and Chas Cronk is probably the strongest line up they had although some argue that Wakeman's brief time with the bad plus Hudson/Hooper and Ford were equally as important.' Shine on Silver Sun' and ' ' Midnight Sun' are two more excellent songs as is the frenetically psychotic ' Hero and Heroine'.' Round and Round' and ' Out in the Cold' are also great really challenging your emotions as is Cousin's strength of lyrics. All this beautifully blended with the finest crop of musicians.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#19650) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 10, 2004

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Hero & Heroine" showed Strawbs stepping away from their folk influences and moving further into the Progressive Rock terretory. This, of course, made the rythm-section on their previous albums Hudson-Ford leave the band because they weren't quite satisfyed with the direction the band was about to take. They were greatly replaces though, by Chas Cronk and Rod Coombes. "Autumn" is the best track here and it's a wonderful opener and a truly classic and beautiful Prog-Rock epic. It is nicely followed by "Sad Young Man", another song that I appreciate very much. The rest is mostly very good too, despite a few weak moments inbetween. Pure folk-rockers might be a tad disappointed with this one, but otherwise, I would say that this album is welcome to any comprehensive Progressive Rock collection.

4 stars.

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Posted Friday, February 04, 2005

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
5 stars Even though we are constantly (and rightly so) forewarned to award 5 stars ratings only to the truly deserving "generals" and not to every half decent prog recording, there are some undeniable exceptions when dealing with Prog, as it's the most personal of all musical genres due to the huge variety of various influences within the grooves.There are albums that are so deeply seared into each progfan's psyche and musical soul (for whatever personal reason) that even 31 years later , the circumstances around the purchase remain vivid to this day! I ,for one, can still recall the when & where of buying Dark Side , Selling England, Hamburger Concerto, El Dorado, Phaedra, Fish Rising etc... Such is the case with the seminal "Hero & Heroine" , my all time #2 behind the obvious "In the Court of The Crimson King".

In the glorious vintage Prog year of 1974, this piece of vinyl struck a very deep personal chord (I was in love for the first time and paying the price for it!), soothing the bewilderment and addressing the melancholia of the times thanks to the opening bars of "Autumn" : swirling and uplifting mellotron washes, marshalled by that steady and simple beat, leading to the 9 minute suite of grandiose proportions. The following flowing songs are sad (Sad Young Man), solemn (Midnight Sun, Lay A little Light) ,bitter (Out in the Cold), angry (Round & Round, Hero & Heroine) & hopeful (Its just Love, Shine On Silver Sun). David Cousins' voice, not always the easiest to digest, is plain perfect here, never better before or after. Dave Lambert's crisp guitar playing also elevated his reputation at the time, plus a rock solid rythm section and of course John Hawken's keyboards all weave together to make this an undisputed classic. The production by Tom Allom -more reputed for his work with heavy rock artists- also deserves some serious applause as the entire disc is a glowing affair, combining delicacy and power, heavily orchestrated with the glorious mellotron leading the charge. What can be said of the cover art , a misty classic bathed in a shimmering white haze and evoking a unique dreaminess that is the exact artistic interpretation of the music inside. I often return to this "friend", especially when in need of comfort and nostalgia. Which is why I have asked to have it in my casket (along with a few other albums) , so that I can truly Rest In Peace, whenever that day arrives! No collection is complete without this masterpiece.

5 Midnight Suns

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#19652) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, March 12, 2005

Review by Philrod
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Strawbs' most popular album from the pop scene, Hero and Heroine does not disappoint after the great bursting at the seams. Starting with the three movements song ''opus'', the band uses its usual folky approach to music while creating a more spacy feel than before. However, it is the only song on the album with that feel. It is a mini-suit in the great tradition of 70's prog. As the rest of the album, it is a love or hate situation. It is probably the most electric album made up to that point, wich is probably why it is their most acclaimed by the public. The usual cousins' style of writing is still present, and a new, stronger rythm section, helps the band build this new kind of folk. It definitely has its flaws, but this is still a really sound effort by cousins ans co.

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Posted Friday, May 27, 2005

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Hero And Heroine is a marvellous album from strawbs with a more intense played mellotron than the previous. Hero And Heroine, some drugs' obvious connotations apart, is the epic of tragic lovers. I think that Autumn (8.27 mns) and the title track are excellent reasons for a five star rating! The last in particular because of the "grandeur" of its start and the explosive/symphonic arrangements. Other high contributions from Strawbs are the beautiful ballad Shine On Silver Sun, the catchy Round And Round and Lay A Little Light On Me. I can't believe that this band doesn't have the adequate consideration in progarchives. Now it's up to me to express my great appreciation.

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Posted Saturday, August 13, 2005

Review by Tony Fisher
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars After the enormous commercial success of Bursting at the Seams, the musical differences in the band between Cousins and Hudson and Ford became irreconcilable, resulting in fragmentation. Blue Weaver left to become a Bee Gee and Hudson and Ford formed their own, more commercial outfit. Lambert and Cousins recruited a new rhythm section in ex Stealers Wheel drummer Rod Coombes and respected session bassist Chas Cronk, completing the line up with ex Renaissance keyboard wizard John Hawken. At first, Cousins had difficulty getting him to play other keyboards than piano, but eventually he warmed to the mellotron, Hammond and moog. And thank God he did, because this album is characterised by some wonderful, mellotron drenched songs and glorious synth. It's a sad album, with a theme of love and abandonment. It also marks the final abandonment of their folk influences and emergence as a full blown prog band.

Autumn, a three part track, kicks off the album with the instrumental Heroine's Theme, a slow, synth/ bass/drum intro, followed by swathes of sweeping mellotron behind a guitar line. It softens into Deep Summers Sleep, with a Cousins lyric lamenting the end of summer, then changes abruptly to a Lambert-fronted epic with a glorious chorus, melodic guitar solo and the curtain of mellotron. Delicious.

The rest of side one is good but not special: Sad Young Man is a pleasant Cousins ballad, Just Love is a fairly raucous, typically rocky Lambert effort and Shine on Silver Sun was a minor hit single.

Side two is simply magnificent and reflects Cousins' depressed state of mind at the time. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES LISTEN TO IT IF YOU ARE DEPRESSED.

Hero and Heroine features Cousins at his most dramatic, with crashing mellotron and epic guitar over a lyric about desertion. It flows into Midnight Sun, a gentle, beautiful song about hopelessness. Out in the Cold is an erotic song about passionate love and loss. Round and Round, with its insistent synthesiser riff, is about suicide and features Cousans and Lambert on top form. Lay a Little Light on Me is about seeking a way out of depression and lamenting the failure of religion to provide answers. Hero's theme concludes the album with a repetitive, rousing, motif and chorus.

The musicianship is consistently good, the rhythm section blending effortlessly into the background yet underpinning the songs perfectly whilst the three lead instrumentalists work their magic. I bought this album on its release date in 1974 and love it as much as I ever did. Side 1 deserves 4* but side 2 easily lifts it up to the rank of masterpiece.

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Posted Thursday, March 30, 2006

Review by hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Their first album with the new line-up, key-man John Hawken coming from Renaissance and Coombes/Cronk as replacement for the Hudson/Ford rhythm section. Though they suppressed here considerably the country rock feel coming obvious on their previous one H & H cannot keep up with the standard of their FTW and GNW albums by any means. Certainly it has its moments (like the follow-up has them as well) but overall it can't offer more than (often too overly) melodic and harmonic Mellotron-laden sound owing much to bands like Moody, Procol or BJH. Even the songs where electric guitars are taking over a bit more cannot change much of this impression or even worsen it since they sound too much straight forward. Best songs are still the Autumn-suite and the title track and in the end this one had been a pleasant and fairly good album by the remnant of a band that once started as a very promising and fascinating one. Certainly not essential and just good for 3 stars!

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Posted Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars the numerous line up changes (and musical directions) have placed ai strain on the Strawbs audience and critics. The group no longer was a folk trio. And after the complete break up of the last line up a lot of people seemed to be losing their patientice with Dave Cousins. After all, Burstin“At The Seams was their most successful record up till then, and yet it did not prevent an almost total disband. Only David Lambert was retained. But in the end it was a good move, since the new personel was Strawbs best.

And what about the album? Hero And Heroine is a transitional work, Cousins is not at his best, which does not mean the songs are not good. They are good. Sometimes very good, like the opening suite, Autumn. This is great prog music and unfortunatly does not repeat on the rest of the LP. On the other hand, no song here is really weak or bad. It is a CD you can hear without any problems and the arrangements are always very well done.

Strawbs would do their best ever work in the following year, with Ghosts, but Hero And Heoine gives hints they were going in the right direction. The title track and Autumn suite are certainly classic songs. Recommended.

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Posted Thursday, July 26, 2007

Review by Matti
COLLABORATOR Neo-Prog Team
5 stars It's a long way from the folk approach of the earlier Strawbs, but this is absolutely great prog rock album. First, I think that the departure of the song-writing rhythm section Hudson and Ford to follow their own unique path did good, because I've alwayd preferred Dave Cousins' style - and this is HIS band after all. One of the new members is ex-Renaissance (1969) man John Hawken on keyboards, and his work is just excellent here. The band rocks a bit tighter than before but it's charming, bright and warm too.

The only song I don't like is 'Just Love'. Neither is 'Round And Round' among my favourites even if it's regarded by many as a prog highlight with its daring synth work. But the rest is very enjoyable all the way. Four of these tracks I first heard on Strawbs compilations and they're still my favourites: 'Autumn' is a gorgeous two-part song with washes of Mellotron, and the atmosphere of shivering autumn and cosy winter reaches your bones. 'Hero & Heroine' is a sharp prog rocker. Generally I'm not much into heavy rock playing but this kind of power in a song is fantastic. 'Shine On Silver Sun' and 'Out In The Cold' are mostly in the ballad category with strong choruses, that are very emotional without being sentimental. The nice little song 'Lay A Little Light On Me' (its faster version is served as a bonus) is tied up with an instrumental 'Hero's Theme' to end the album in a prog manner. I love this brilliantly crafted album for 5 stars!

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Posted Thursday, September 27, 2007

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars Hero and Heroine was the first song I heard by Strawbs, while exploring some prog folk samples a while back. After a succession of albums by the band, and a long search for the spirit and grandeur of that song, it is ironically (or perhaps naturally) on the song's own album I finally find it.

With Hero and Heroine it feels like Strawbs finally has matured enough to offer a through-and-through enjoyable release. With a new line-up at hand, Dave Cousins and friends take a big step into symphonic territory, leaving behind the folkier and poppier influences of the past. It still doesn't mean that what we've got here is some kind of avant-prog. Far from it. It's a brand of accessible and deeply emotional music, rich and warm for most of the part. The music relies a lot on atmosphere, often created by a heavy use of Mellotron and other keys but also on very strong melodies. In many of the songs you find a catchy refrain, easy to sing along to. In fact, Strawbs biggest strength lies in this inherent skill of creating both interesting and catchy music while never going to extremes with one of the two, thus blending two of my favourite genres - 70s 'classic' rock and progressive rock.

Disappointing as it might be for the folk lover, Hero and Heroine doesn't offer much music in that direction. The few remnants of it are most easily detected in outbursts of acoustic guitar, like those found on the title track. This is mostly a symphonic effort, thick with bombast. The previously mentioned Mellotron is used powerfully here, together with forceful guitar and bass. Wall-of-sound is a great expression and it sure fits here. The use of short solo runs from a warm e-guitar and acoustic textures provide the defining Strawbs character to the music, Lovely indeed. Dave Cousins behind the microphone is peaking here, amazing performance altogether, emotional, soothing and technically a lot better than on the previous releases.

Just as with Ghosts, two songs stand out from the rest. Autumn and the title track are among the best Strawbs have ever done. The first songs begins with a dark, synthesised bass theme set to an eerie, ambient landscape with screeching, echoing e-guitar coming in and out in the soundscape. All of a sudden an orgasmic Mellotron appears out of nowhere, sweeping the listener away to a mellow interlude of acoustic and electric guitar interplay. This theme continues over the melancholic vocals until that beloved Mellotron returns to take the song in to its 'refrain', which only builds up in power until the choir-laid end. Epic proportions. Hero and Heroine (the song) isn't very varied. Basically, it's built on two alternating segments, but what segments they are! Never have I been so totally blown away as by the bombast of the Mellotron used for this song. Drums, guitar, bass and keys work together in forming something so big that it quite possibly beats the bombast of ELP. Naturally in a good way. The nervous, unique verse (structure of vocals!) features folkish, fast guitar that underlines the frenzy of the song and its lyrics. Another treat.

There are some flaws on the record, no doubt (especially Just Love), but nothing really annoying, especially if you've got a taste for the more mainstream rock of the 70's. The only general problem I have, and that concerns all of Strawbs' output, is that I sometimes lack some instrumental excitement. Yes, it can get too pleasant.

But without hesitation: 4 stars

//LinusW

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Posted Sunday, April 27, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
5 stars Strawbs' finest hour

This beautiful album is a perfect blend of Prog Folk and Symphonic Prog. The whole album works as a suite as the songs more or less flow into each other which makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts. The melodies are gorgeous and the lead vocals and lyrics of Dave Cousins are deeply moving and often haunting.

The music of Hero And Heroine is romantic, emotional and reflective but at the same time also rocking. It very successfully combines the different sides of the band: the folky side, the hard rocking side and the progressive, symphonic side. The combination of acoustic instruments like acoustic guitars, piano, harmonica (uncredited), flute (uncredited and very discrete) drums and percussion, as well as lovely harmony vocals, on the one hand, and electric guitars, various keyboards and bass guitar, on the other hand, is very effective. The keyboards are played by John Hawken and include electric piano, organ, mellotron and synthesisers. All this creates a very full and powerful yet beautiful sound without ever sounding bombastic. It feels very genuine.

In my view this is the ultimate line-up of the band with Cousins on vocals and guitars, Dave Lambert on guitars, Hawken on keyboards, Chas Cronk on bass and Rod Coombes on drums. And Hero And Heroine is their finest hour.

It is difficult to compete with Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick, but Hero And Heroine is one of the best albums in the Prog Folk genre and a masterpiece of progressive Folk rock.

One of my favourite albums!

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Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album is another good mix between symphonic rock and some folk atmospheres (but not too many).

When you listen to Autumn, only one thing can come to your mind: the great ITCOTCK. Same mellotron lines, a superb melody. It is a really emotional song which sounds so beautiful (even if the closing section features weak vocals). It is one of my favourite of the band. It is a masterpiece and a bloody good opener. Give me more like this one!

It is true to say that their folk period is well over by now, but I tend to prefer their symphonic period. And I can only be pleased with Sad Young Man which offers another very pleasant keys moment as well as fine vocals arrangements.

I have to admit though that when the band is trying to rock, I am not too much charmed (Just Love). It seems that they are somewhat forcing too much, and it doesn't seem to be a natural move for them. The best part of this song is again the short and melodic break which takes place in the middle.

It is not untrue to compare some songs from this album with some Moody Blues ones. Shine On Silver Sun is probably the one that is closely related with the Moodies. Maybe somewhat too childish.

Fortunately, the title track follows. It is an enjoyable and upbeat song which holds bombastic elements (mellotron) as well as a very optimistic tone. It is another very good song actually.

Strawbs get back more towards their folk sound of their early days during the acoustic Midnight Sun but the addition of keys is a positive point as far as I'm concerned. But to be complete, I must admit that I have never been over-enthusiastic about true acoustic folk music like Out In The Cold.

The band is also combining pop elements with some symphonic ones during Round & Round. It is maybe not all that extraordinary but at the same time is confirms their new orientation. Same applies for the two closing tracks which are a nice way to end this album. Hero's Theme holds again a powerful theme and bombastic passages. It is another very good song from this album.

I wouldn't say that this album is a masterpiece; it doesn't hold enough great songs for this. I would say seven out of ten and I will upgrade it to four stars thanks to Autumn.

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Posted Friday, October 10, 2008

Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog-Folk Team
5 stars Many parallels exist between "Grave New World" and "Hero and Heroine" in both circumstances and conceptual unity. Both were recorded during a major change in group personnel, with "Hero" being even more dramatic. Gone are Blue Weaver, Richard Hudson and John Ford, replaced by John Hawken, Rod Coombes and Chas Cronk respectively. Both sport an irrepressible flow from one track to the next, which is ultimately seamless even if it does not appear that way on first listen. Both find the group effecting a major alteration in style and substance, although one could argue this was the case for every album from 1971-1976.

What is different with "Hero and Heroine" is the submersion of overt folk tendencies some meters below the typically colourful surface and the greater emphasis on hard rock in the progressive mix. It's still undeniably Strawbs in sensitivity and sense of beauty, but in a package that simply pummels the contemporary competition in intensity and harnessed power. Even if UK fans, expecting more accessible prog like on "Bursting at the Seams", were bummed out by the drastic metamorphosis, North American, and particularly Canadian (and even more strikingly, French Canadian) audiences became converts in pretty large numbers for a cultish prog group. In fact, this went gold in Canada.

The album opens with one of the group's defining tracks, the three part "Autumn" suite. Beginning with reflective synths by Hawken and lonely seagull calls, actually approximated on electric guitar, the instrumental first part plunges into a mellotron fest not seen since "Epitaph". The second part is Cousins at his most lyrical, waxing at turns both awed and depressed by the change of seasons, to a gentle tron backing and punctuated by fine interplay between acoustic and lead guitar. The third part is Strawbs at their most melodic and romantic, a simple timeless folk melody starting on piano, joined by Lambert on vocals (with plenty of backing), that builds to its final mellotron choir crescendo. Given its time period, this is what the doctor ordered for those suffering from Moody Blues withdrawal, although Strawbs retained the advantage of the authenticity of their folky DNA.

Rod Coombes entry, "Sad Young Man", is a wholly successful welcome to the group, with its echoey vocals, crisp organ, and icy simple lead guitars. Here, as on the heavenly "Shine on Silver Sun", like an update on "Benedictus", the darkness of the Copenhagen November, where the album was recorded, must have been having an effect on the mood. In between, "Just Love" provides the simple rocking levity that is required, albeit with a mellotron suffused middle break that provides continuity.

The use of echo on almost every vocal track after "Autumn" is striking in this album, no more so than on the title cut's second verse. This track is a whirlwhind epic in 3:20, featuring jig like verses, mellotron horns, and breathless vocal rants. It also began Side 2 of the original vinyl, which can lay claim to being the most powerful side in group history. The theme is generally regarded to be an indictment of hard drug use, but I also see an allegory to sex role stereotypes.

While the beautiful mellotron-flute laden "Midnight Sun" and the gentle if graphic "Out in the Cold" draw from the folk well, "Round and Round" and "lay a Little Light on Me" are both flat-out progressive rock with plenty of synthesizers, heavy guitars, and alternating quiet and bombastic sections. Cousins' angst reaches new heights even by his own standards, in parallel with an apparent crisis of faith. The fade out is the old trick of playing a chorus backwards, in this case that of "Shine on Silver Sun".

Of the two bonus tracks, "Still Small Voice" is more valuable. It is a piece that was apparently never completed, evidenced by the presence of only one verse, but the classical guitar, Cousins' gothic voice (think "Tears" from "Bursting"), and a memorable tune all conspire to make this an essential listen. The other bonus is an early demo version of "Lay a Little Light on me" which lacks the subtle buildups of the original, being pretty much a pure rock track.

"Hero and Heroine" is as far away from Strawbs' first few releases as it is from any of the output by their British folk rock contemporaries FAIRPORT CONVENTION, PENTANGLE and STEELEYE SPAN, occupying a realm much closer to MOODY BLUES. BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, GENESIS, and KING CRIMSON, but in a style all their own. The bold steps taken to go from A to Z in a mere half decade show a willingness to explore that makes the so-called progress of the above bands (CRIMSON excepted) seem a trifle timid by comparison. For that Strawbs have attracted some criticism from both purist proggers and bearded folkies, which explains both their lack of total acceptance by both but also their ability to highlight festivals in both genres. No other album in their oeuvre is more likely to receive a hero's welcome among PA's prog elite.

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Posted Monday, January 26, 2009

Review by Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It became more pleasing as I kept listening to it. For the longest time, I thought only the ''Autumn'' epic was the only worthy track off the album (especially for the Moog at the beginning), but upon recent listenings, I've found more worth out of HERO AND HEROINE than I could have imagined.

The second side is where some of the magic comes out. Sure, tracks like ''Hero and Heroine'', ''Round and Round'' and ''Lay a Little Light on Me'' are completely corny, but the subtle majestic qualities give them a ''prog'' edge here. ''Midnight Sun'' is a vastly underrated cut displaying the beauty of the group at the fullest, and I'm not a guy that normally takes pretty prog seriously. Further props go to ''Out in the Cold'' for sounding like a country song, only non- offensive to my ears.

The only problem track is ''Just Love'', a rock-n-roller that absolutely doesn't fit. It's not that bad if you can stomach the corny prettiness, but I see HERO AND HEROINE as only slightly above- average.

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Posted Friday, July 09, 2010

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars Hero And Heroine has been another one of those pleasant surprises that the Prog Folk genre had to offer me so far, even though it's debatable whether this particular release actually follows the sub-genre's blueprint all that much.

From the first moments of the opening multi-part mini-epic we are transported to those magnificent realms of Symphonic Prog that dominated that music scene of the time. The luscious sounds of Mellotron enter the room and make me almost believe that Rick Wakeman had returned to the band for another go, which was unfortunately not so. The first melodic section of the composition does bear an uncanny resemblance to King Crimson's masterpiece Epitaph, but once Dave Cousins vocals come in they quickly remove all traces of that comparison, turning this into a minor masterpiece of its own!

Just like on all the classic the Strawbs albums, Dave Cousins dominates the scenery with his very beautiful vocal delivery, which I originally wanted to compare to that of Procol Harum's Gary Brooker's for its sheer originality, but I honestly can't help hearing that certain Peter Gabrielesque vibe in his voice here. Even though we don't get any more longer pieces throughout the rest the album the material still manages, for most part, to keep an excellent flow all the way to the end. The only notable exception to the rule comes with Dave Lambert's simple rocker called Just Love. This song brings nothing new or interesting to the band's already well established sound and only makes me wonder it actually made the cut.

It definitely shows that Cousins was on top of his craft since even the shorter, simpler tunes like Shine On Silver Sun and Out In The Cold sound almost as interesting as the more complex pieces. Speaking of complexity, the albums title track is another highly enjoyable progressive rock tune, featuring acoustic verse sections that only brings a slight reminder of the Strawbs Prog Folk roots.

Lay A Little Light On Me is where I honestly start to believe that Peter Gabriel was in the studio and recorded the lead vocals on the track. Of course, once the post-verse instrumental section kicks in it becomes clear that the Strawbs were in a slightly more sinister mood when composing this song. The transition into the album's final song, Hero's Theme, is just beautiful and brings a complete feeling of joy to my overall experience of this record.

Hero And Heroine was my first and most accomplished experience of this band's music featuring everything I would want of an excellent Symphonic Rock album with only a slight touch of Prog Folk added to it. Simply put, an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection!

***** star songs: Autumn: Heroine's Theme, Deep Summer's Sleep, The Winter Long (8:30) Hero And Heroine (3:29) Hero's Theme (2:28)

**** star songs: Sad Young Man (4:08) Shine On Silver Sun (2:47) Midnight Sun (3:06) Out In The Cold (3:19) Round And Round (4:44) Lay A Little Light On Me (3:27)

*** star songs: Just Love (3:41)

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Posted Saturday, August 07, 2010

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is probably my second favourite STRAWBS album after "Grave New World", but to be honest nothing i've heard from this band can quite compare to that one.The picture of the band in the edition I have is startling and not in a good way. Yikes ! I have an older A & M Records cd.

"Autumn" is definitely a top three track with the wondrous mellotron and I love the bass / drum intro too. From 5 minutes on it's not that great but this song has it's moments for sure. "Sad Young Man" is a top three as well for me. It's mellow with fragile vocals to start. It turns fuller rather quickly as contrasts continue. I like the guitar here. Nice organ later. Cool song. "Just Love" is uptempo with vocals. It settles before 2 minutes with piano and mellotron then kicks back in. "Shine On" is a ballad.

"Hero And Heroine" is a fan favourite. A Country flavour to this one though that i'm not fond of. The organ and mellotrn sections are good. "Midnight Sun" features strummed guitar with percussion and reserved vocals. "Out In The Cold" has some good intricate guitar to start. Harmonica and drums join in. Vocals a minute in. "Round And Round" is the other top three for me. I like how this builds and sounds. Vocals before 1 1/2 minutes. Spoken words before 3 1/2 minutes. "Lay A Little Light On Me" is ballad-like early. I like the expressive vocals that follow. "Hero's Theme" has a BEATLES vibe to it.

I get the feeling with this release that they tried to do something different, more of a Progressive Rock thing. And because of that (I suppose) I keep hearing things that remind me of other bands. That kind of bugs me but in reality this is a very good album. 3.5 stars.

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Posted Friday, August 20, 2010

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Strawbs - Hero and Heroine (1974)

This was a new band for me, as I was searching for more folk oriented rock and prog. I was a bit disappointed to find this album has no folk traces at all. It's an old men's symphonic rock album with minor classical influences. The production of the album is very professional, but lacks directness and a convincing sound.

The Strawbs themselves made some very symphonic compositions with all instruments sounding if coming from the far end of a catholic church. The chord progressions are all very simple and the music is driven by it's sound. The choral arrangements on the opening track and most others tracks make the music sound as if it were modern church music. Even my girlfriend though it was way to cheesy. It's way to polite and polished for the progressive rock genre. The band has some relatively successful attempts at song-writing during the shorter tracks, that don't have the (for me) silly arrangements. The title track Hero and Heroin stands out as one of the most failing attempt at combining genre's I've ever heard; combining bombastic symphonic rock with... country. What can I say?

Conclusion. By now every-one must have noticed I'm not that positive about this record. I just can't stand the complete lack of originality and bravery. This album almost makes the later work of Barclay James Harvest sound rough. If you like very polished symphonic rock this album might just hit the spot for you, but I can't recommend this album at all. Two stars.

* Edited. At first I criticized Strawbs for having a vocalist that sounds too much like Gabriel, but other users reminded me of the fact was at least as early at the scene as Genesis and that it might have been the other way around (Gabriel sounding like Strawbs).

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Posted Sunday, April 03, 2011

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars 'Hero and Heroine' as well as 'Ghosts' are a pretty remarkable pair of studio albums released by the Strawbs in the mid-seventies. Both are well-written and arranged, musically progressive and reflective of the advanced level of the band's technical skill and professionalism. What makes them remarkable really is that they were ever even made.

Dave Cousins became the sole remaining original member even before 'Hero and Heroine' when Tony Hooper left in 1972 over 'artistic differences' with the more commercial (and therefore less folksy) direction Cousins and the former Velvet Opera rhythm section duo of Richard Hudson and John Ford were taking the band. Following a successful though stress-filled year long tour supporting 'Bursting at the Seams' Cousins once again found himself at odds with his band mates and the result was basically dissolution of the band, although in later years Cousins has characterized this period rather more charitably. Given the band's popularity and brand-name value though Cousins and Dave Lambert decided to carry on and form a new Strawbs lineup. Hudson and Ford found success right away as the creatively titled Hudson Ford, while Blue Weaver found a home with Mott the Hoople, another band that has just gone through a bitter breakup at the pinnacle of their career. Weaver would cash in on Mott's worldwide tour supporting 'All the Young Dudes' and even more so later as keyboardist for the Bee Gees during their late seventies disco run.

The lineup in the studio for 'Hero and Heroine' included two keyboardists, former Renaissance member John Hawken, and Chas Cronk who would remain with Cousins thereafter. Former Juicy Lucy drummer Rod Coombes replaced Richard Hudson on the heels of Coombes' own breakup story as a member of Stealers Wheel. Despite being rather thrown together the group sounds like a true band, at least based on this studio work. Everyone contributed to the content including songwriting chores, even Hawken with his penning of the somber opening instrumental "Heroine's Theme", a rather Alan Parsons Project-sounding bit of music. Cousins of course wrote most of the lyrics and much of the music but the loss of Hudson and Ford's writing skills seems to have not impaired the band much.

Musically this may be the best Strawbs album ever, and it is certainly among their most popular especially in the U.S. where it was released even before A&M launched it in the UK. Though the overall vibe is unmistakably British and still showing remnants of the band's folk-rock heritage, a group as cerebral and measured as the Strawbs didn't really stand much of a chance of making a huge splash in the U.S. mainstream market although the album did manage to break just inside of the Billboard Top-100. Songs like "Autumn" and "Midnight Sun" show the band was still capable of progressive arrangements, but given their tour billings and vaguely glam persona at the time made it tough for American audiences to connect.

Not to say the band didn't try, and the more rocking "Sad Young Man", "Just Love" and schizophrenic "Round and Round" surely held their own on FM radio long play sessions throughout the Midwest alongside more conventional rock groups.

The single "Shine on Silver Sun" would be the last hit for the band, and its easygoing blend of keyboards, choral vocals and measured tempo proved to be appeal to audiences back home while still being accessible enough to attract some singles play in U.S. markets.

Personally I much prefer 'Ghosts' to 'Hero and Heroine' but must admit Cousins and Dave Lambert did a masterful job of crafting a very solid band out of the ashes left in the wake of 'Bursting at the Seams'. While I'm going to give this album a four-star rating, I'll do so with the note that 'Bursting' and 'Ghosts' more easily achieved that rating. An excellent album nonetheless and recommended for all Strawbs fans.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#502618) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Despite occasional pastoral lyrics and instrumental passages, Hero and Heroine by and large sees the Strawbs moving away from the acoustic prog folk of earlier albums into lush symphonic prog drowning in Mellotron. The new direction was in part a consequence of new members joining the band, and is particularly on display on the opening three-part epic "Autumn", which contrasts dreamy summer idylls with cold winter yearning. Another particularly good pick is the title track, which offers some characteristically direct and cutting lyrics from Dave Cousins (backing away from the more oblique lyrics of Bursting at the Seams) with an energetic musical backing. On the whole, the album is as cohesive and as compelling as the excellent Grave New World, netting the Strawbs the second peak of their career.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#511891) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Strawbs of the peek of their career for sure. Hero and heroine fis considered a classic Strawbs album and among ht ebest they ever done if not quite the best Strawbs album ever. I'm agree with that and together with Ghost are the most high quality albums from their catalogue. Some changes in line up and in the end only Cousins remaing still on baricades. John Hawken an ex Renaissance musicians who really done a good job here mainly because the band now are with one foot in prog folk zone and with other in symohonic prog the result is quite enjoyble and well composed. Now to my ears Strawbs sounds like if I'm combining some passages from early Genesis with Barclay James Harvest moments. With this album is some way continue what they left on Grave ne w world but here are some symphonic prog passages full of mellotron beauty, in places moving away from that acustic folk of the previous albums. Pieces like Autumn, Sad young man or the title track are pute bliss to listen. Grandious passages, and rank amongst the finest of the Strawbs pieces they ever done. This is a perfect melting moments from old Strawbs with new sound thay incorporated here, the result is more then great and among my fav Strawbs albums for sure. Pastoral feel, acustic meets more energic moments all in a perfect Strawbs atmosphere. 4 stars easy.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#756995) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars Incredibly decided to buy Hero and Heroine just a few days ago, and after several decades as a fan of the STRAWBS, a decision I delayed mostly because without Hudson and Ford I thought this would be an inferior attempt of Cousins and Lambert to keep the name alive?..Gladly I have to admit it was a big mistake, the album is simply fantastic from start to end, the beautiful voice of Dave Cousins and the magic Mellotron of the former RENAISSANCE keyboardist John Hawken are able not only to keep the magic alive, but to raise the bar even more.

The album is opened by the mini suite . Autumn: Heroine's Theme, Deep Summer's Sleep, The Winter Long blending the ability of the two Daves (Cousins and Lambert) with the acoustic guitar and the wizardry of Hawken in the keyboards, a perfect blend of Acoustic Folk, Gothic Music (understood as late Middle Age) and Symphonic Prog with a heartbreaking Mellotron performance.

But that's not all, around the fifth minute, a beautiful piano passage marks a radical change with a melancholic vocal work, perfectly supported by the rhythm section, along with The Hangman and the the best STRAWBS song.

Sad Young Man is more the kind of music we can expect from the band, pastoral, calmed and melodic with the usual trouvadoresque singing, but again Hawkens caught me by surprise with an outstanding organ solo. But what really impressed m,e is the way in which they play with the contrasts between this song and the faster rock oriented Just Love, by this moment its' obvious for me that we are not before a collection of great songs but in front of a coherent and well balanced album recorded with great taste.

As in the previous tracks, the guys work with the contrast between the folksy and almost acoustic Shine On Silver Sun based in the unique voice of cousins and soft piano complemented by the pompous and impressive Hero And Heroine, an electric and upbeat folk song, that reminds me of the days when Wakeman was in the band, again the STRAWBS hit the nail right in the head.

Midnight Sun and Cousins voice make me think in singer-songwriters like CAT STEVENS or AL STEWART, but of course the arrangements and delicate guitar performances make it unique. A characteristic that is boosted by the radical difference with the more dramatic Out in the Cold, a good song that could had been better with stronger arrangements and avoiding the extra sweet keyboards. Still wouldn't call it a bad track, just a bit.

Round and Round took me by surprise because it's so hard to define, heavier guitars and aggressive keyboards combined with a Folk/Medieval melodic tune, please pay special attention to the perfect interplay between Chas Cronk (Bass) and Rod Coombes in the drums, by this point, the band is working as a well-oiled machine, with each musician doing his part and even more.

The album ends with the unusually heavy Lay A Little Light On Me a track with a spectacular structure, because the intensity and drama go in crescendo to match perfectly with Hero's Theme, creating almost another mini epic that closes the album brilliantly.

Even though my album has two stupendous bonus themes, I will base my review solely in the original songlist, because that's the way the band made Hero and Heroine to be listened, and God.......They made a great job. Until today I used to believe that the excellent From The Witchwood was the peak of the STRAWBS career, but I changed my mind, doesn't matter if I couldn't find names as Hudson, Ford or Wakeman, this new lineup created a musical gem that deserves no less than 5 solid stars.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#912417) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, February 11, 2013

Latest members reviews

4 stars Hero and Heronine is often considered one of the band's great prog efforts, and it is indeed a great masterwork from the band. Former Renaissance keyboardist John Hawken created some of the most wonderfully gothic atmospheres on this album with his haunting and sweeping organ work, particularl ... (read more)

Report this review (#572742) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Tuesday, November 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Nice album for this band. Very balanced and calm in some tracks and more fast in other's. This album is not progressive Folk but, to me, is a bit of psichedelic space rock and synphonic prog. Some guitar calm parts remember me some Floydian contexts and others some Yes parts. The voice have h ... (read more)

Report this review (#265005) | Posted by Joćo Paulo | Monday, February 08, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 9.5/10 Incredible Hero and Heroine is yet another fantastic Strawbs album. This album means alot to me in that it makes another attempt at a concept as "Grave New World" did. This album feels even more complete as a concept, actually, but the music for me does not quite meet the level of " ... (read more)

Report this review (#148390) | Posted by The Lost Chord | Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Hero and Heroine is the last great album that the Strawbs made in the 70's. It is varied in its styles and moods and contains in Autumn, a song to rival previous greats such as Benedictus and Hangman and the Papist. The Album starts with Autumn 9/10- a three part epic, it starts with organ ... (read more)

Report this review (#134578) | Posted by Byron73 | Thursday, August 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The winter long, I will always be with you This particular albuim is very enjoyable in many ways and would appeal to the senses of many prog fans. The songwriting is very well done and Cousin's vocals are partiularly good. The general atmosphere throughout the albums is lush and inviting, yet f ... (read more)

Report this review (#114828) | Posted by moreitsythanyou | Sunday, March 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Starts off like a track form Floyd's Obscured By Clouds period. But that's only for a moment. Then we have great prog folk. We have here great compositions, foggy atmosphere, gentle melodies and very fine playing. The best songs here are: Autumn, Hero And Heroine, Shine On Silver Sun, Lay A Littl ... (read more)

Report this review (#109159) | Posted by Deepslumber | Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 5 stars !!! , a most beautiful piece of music that has ever been recorded, a mellotron rush and beautiful melodies. A sad and uplifting album all rolled up in one tremendous mellotron lovers feast, one of my all time favorites and a must for any prog lover afficianado. BEST track :Hero and Heroi ... (read more)

Report this review (#92658) | Posted by kingcrimson | Saturday, September 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For me, the best of the "Strawbs" album. You can't go wrong with this one. Sure, it may be a bit more accesible music wise but, all songs are good. The album start with the epic, "Autumn" a must for mellotron lovers around the world :) The song start with a slow and dark synthesizer melody an ... (read more)

Report this review (#79914) | Posted by Fido73 | Wednesday, May 31, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The seventh work released in 1974 "Hero And Heroine". The route of the Electric rock is promoted further, and the music in a new age when the synthesizer was made good use of is constructed. The charm of STRAWBS however firmly becomes lively Vocal of Dave Cousins. Yet another masterpiece from ... (read more)

Report this review (#60460) | Posted by braindamage | Friday, December 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A 5 star masterpiece for me becasue it is one of a very few perfect albums that I have encountered. This album has beautiful and classic pieces and some very good pieces but not one bad song. From start to finish it is excellent. A classic and hearing Autumn live recently moved me just the sam ... (read more)

Report this review (#19653) | Posted by | Monday, March 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars What can i say,i guess it all has been said about this beautiful piece of music,even the cover is beautiful ! What a wonderful instrument the mellotron was...or is.(There are still a lot of groups using it....long live !) But there`s not just the mellotron that makes this album great,the instru ... (read more)

Report this review (#19649) | Posted by | Wednesday, June 30, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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