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Strawbs The Magic of It All album cover
3.23 | 10 ratings | 3 reviews | 10% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2023

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ready (Are We Ready) (5:33)
2. The Magic of It All (4:44)
3. All Along the Bay (3:28)
4. Everybody Means Something to Someone (4:28)
5. Our World (3:36)
6. The Time Has Come (for Giving Back) (5:24)
7. Slack Jaw Alice (3:27)
8. Paris Nights (3:10)
9. Wiser Now (4:52)

Total Time 38:42

CD-only bonus tracks:
10. The Lady of the Night (4:45)
11. Christmas Ghosts (3:20)

Line-up / Musicians

- David Cousins / vocals, acoustic guitar, dulcimer
- Blue Weaver / piano, organ, Mellotron, accordion
- John Ford / vocals

- Mauritz Lotz
- Schalk Joubert
- Kevin Gibson
- Byron Abrahams
- Simangele Mashazi
- Marzia Barry
- Luna Paige
- Cathryn Craig
- Nicole Tee

Releases information

Recorded at the Academy of Sound Engineering in Cape Town
Engineered by Peter Pearlson

Label: Cherry Red
Formats: CD, LP, Digital
July 14, 2023

Thanks to projeKct for the addition
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STRAWBS The Magic of It All ratings distribution

(10 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(10%)
Good, but non-essential (70%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

STRAWBS The Magic of It All reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars Since almost the very beginning, Dave Cousins has imbued Strawbs and solo albums alike with at least one "novelty" song, one which sits outside the mainstream styles of the group. They vary in the degree to which they assist or upset album flow. For instance, "Ah Me Ah My", while completely out of character with the rest of the Grave New World album, was exactly what was needed when it was needed, momentarily lightening the angst. "Part of the Union" arguably worked because it was written and largely performed by Hudson-Ford and on a very diverse release, "Bursting at the Seams". The problem on "Nomadness" was that half of the cuts were outliers, so the album was the structural equivalent of a termite-riddled lodging. It is unfortunately that blueprint which is dusted off on "The Magic of it All", amplified by the absence of long time members Chas Cronk and Dave Lambert, replaced with rather proficient South African musicians and their influences.

Blue Weaver, keyboardist during Strawbs' most successful period in the UK and producer of the excellent "Settlement" in 2021, has returned as producer and keyboardist, while Cathryn Craig offers welcome vocal relief. Both do help with continuity but this still feels like a Dave Cousins solo album where he indulges his varied tastes in everything but rock, folk and prog for the most part. Hard to believe the album is actually decent, but not one that will win many new fans.

The most enjoyable tracks are those that generally do adhere to Strawbs' templates of the distant and near past, chiefly the middle eastern influenced opener "Ready", which is one of only 2 rockers, the wistful and autobiographical "The Magic of it All" with its shades of JADE WARRIOR in the instrumental section that probably could not have risen from Dave Lambert's picking, and the anthemic folky "Our World".

As for the other 6 tunes, the better ones are actually those that do branch out, chiefly "All Along the Bay" in which Cousins' voice adapts to a talking style reminiscent of the Irish master CHRISTY MOORE in a shuffled sax heavy number, and the Cajun-styled "Slack Jaw Alice" which might be a tribute to Gertrude Stein's spouse, she of the famous hash brownies recipe. Ironically, "Everybody means something to someone" and "Wiser Now" are similar to some of his work on "Deep Cuts" and "Burning for You" that never really moved me and still don't, but at least "Wiser Now" maintains his high poetic standards.

Of the two bonus tracks, "Lady of the Night" is more of the same, while "Christmas Ghosts", written and sung by John Ford, sounds wonderful but is ill timed and a bit too optimistic perhaps, but not the action oriented optimism of a "We Have the Power", but one reserved for believers if you will. In all, they don't affect the overall score here.

Strawbs' final performance was at FAIRPORT CONVENTION's Cropredy festival in August, as Dave Cousins' declining health precludes further touring. This may or not be their last album. It's nowhere near as strong as the 2 preceding releases but is still reflective and heartfelt, just too mellow and eclectic for its own good. But Mr Cousins has earned the right to do as he pleases. It's a real head scratcher how a mildly successful group has survived and thrived for 50+ years, even if he has been the only founding member since 1972. And that perhaps is the real magic of it all.

Latest members reviews

4 stars My God, one could go bonkers trying to figure out the riddle behind this latest Strawbs outing. Particularly in trying to figure out why veteran Strawbs members Dave Lambert and Chas Cronk, on lead guitar and bass respectively, are missing from the album's lineup, as are one of the two veteran r ... (read more)

Report this review (#2946502) | Posted by SteveG | Monday, August 21, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Probably, one of the most defying challenges in the life of a band with a long career behind, is carrying that past against which their new album needs to live up to, if it's going to be embraced and appreciated by long-term followers. In that sense, the previous album by Strawbs had managed to pass ... (read more)

Report this review (#2940429) | Posted by Heart of the Matter | Saturday, July 15, 2023 | Review Permanlink

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