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STRING DRIVEN THING

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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String Driven Thing picture
String Driven Thing biography
Scotland's contribution to progressive rock may appear rather minute, but the role the Scots played in the development of folk rock (and by the same extent progressive folk)is simply enormous. After Donovan, the Incredible String Band, the Pentangle and a few more, came this Glaswegian trio called String Driven Thing in 67, composed of Chris Adams and his wife and guitarist John Mannion. While they stayed rather unsuccessful for a long while, with their debut album completely unnoticed on a independent label. By 71, the group had seen Mannion leaving, but he was replaced with violinist Grahame Smith and bassist Colin Wilson. Soon they got signed to the Charisma label and with Shel Talmy producing two excellent albums, encountering a certain kind of success in Continental Europe, but staying close to unknown in the Isles. After health-related problems in a tour founder Chris Adams quit with his wife leaving Grahame Smith reforming the group from scratch for two further albums. Neither of these albums will have the charm or adventure of the two earlier albums, developing a more AOR rock that had no real distinction except for a violin sound and the group folded in the mis-70's.

SDT reformed in the mid-90's under Chris Adams' instigation releasing a live album. SDT still plays now and again as the millennium is well under way.

:::: Bio written by Hugues Chantraine, Belgium ::::




Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Great folk prog on the Charisman label



Discography:
String Driven Thing - 70
String Driven Thing - 72
The Machine That Cried - 73
Please Mind Your Head - 74
Keep Your' And On It - 75

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STRING DRIVEN THING discography


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STRING DRIVEN THING top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 12 ratings
String Driven Thing
1970
3.16 | 24 ratings
String Driven Thing
1972
3.42 | 51 ratings
The Machine That Cried
1973
2.62 | 17 ratings
Please Mind Your Head
1974
2.70 | 15 ratings
Keep Yer 'and On It
1975
3.79 | 5 ratings
Moments of Truth
2007
2.33 | 3 ratings
Songs from Another Country (as String Driven)
2009

STRING DRIVEN THING Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 3 ratings
$uicide - Live in Berlin
1995

STRING DRIVEN THING Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

STRING DRIVEN THING Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.31 | 4 ratings
Dischotomy / Rarities 1971-74
1992
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Early Years (Mark Two)
2004

STRING DRIVEN THING Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

STRING DRIVEN THING Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Machine That Cried by STRING DRIVEN THING album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.42 | 51 ratings

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The Machine That Cried
String Driven Thing Prog Folk

Review by mickcoxinha

3 stars The most recognized String Driven Thing album among the prog fans is not that much of a prog album, but it is understandable why it is considered their best effort, since there is a 11-minute song that, although it is not that varied or adventurous, it has three parts and, as always, Graheme Smith's experimental violin and viola sounds make it more interesting. either in the sung parts and in the instrumental interlude, which is the best thing in String Driven Thing career along with the experimental Timpani for the Devil in the following album. Another song that is also one of the proggy highlights is The Machine That Cried, which has great solos in the end.

One thing that is particularly interesting from this album is that many of the songs have a darker and somber mood, and it makes it sound better than the other albums where the non-proggy songs (the majority) were not much different from what 70s blues rock, folk rock and hard rock bands were doing. For example, Heartfeeder is a song that doesn't change much except for the solo, but the darker tone makes the violin shine. Sold Down the River is another rock with bluesy riffs, but enhanced by the electric violin solos.

There are obviously more rock and folk songs than prog ones. To See You, Travelling and The House are folk songs, the first being the most interesting to me, sounding like many folk rock songs from late 60s. People in the Street is a lenghty ballad, while Night Club and Two Timin' Rama makes things more interesting because of the change in the mood, since they are pure blues rock.

The album, being a bit uneven, fails a bit to become a masterpiece, but even so it ends being the most interesting String Driven Thing album not much because it is a prog gem, but because it has a bunch of interesting songs. I wouldn't say it is radically different to their other albums, but in a prog point of view, maybe it is the one that will leave the listener more satisfied, although most of the songs are either blues rock or folk.

 Please Mind Your Head by STRING DRIVEN THING album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.62 | 17 ratings

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Please Mind Your Head
String Driven Thing Prog Folk

Review by mickcoxinha

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. It is just that the "prog" elements were much more the exception than the norm in their music.

I can see why some people don't like "Please Mind Your Head", and it is not because they have dropped the prog somewhere, it is because they dropped the folk/blues rock in favor of hard and soul/funk. While "The Machine That Cried" could technically be considered their most "prog" because the "proggy" songs are longer than the "proggy" songs in other albums, it is mostly just a bunch of folk rock and blues rock songs with the distinctive violin and viola by Graheme Smith making the difference.

The highlight of the album is obviously Timpany for the Devil, a song where Graheme Smith has free reign to take his experimental violin and viola playing to the heights. It is probably the most experimental song from String Driven Thing. Besides that, there are some pretty good songs, like Without You, which is harder and has some great violin use and a nice guitar solo (it reminds of early Kansas, even), the funky Josephine, with its great rhythm section and a good instrumental interludes, and the closing song To Know You Is To Love You, which is kinda funky as well, and not surprisingly since it is a Stevie Wonder cover. The other songs are nice too, but they are more commercial, especially Mrs. O'Reily, which is probably the weakest song of the album.

It seems like these albums here not released recently, so it was not worthy hunting down a copy, although the album is good. However, with music stream services, it is available, so it is fine. The version "Graheme Smith's personal tapes" is fine, though it is a bit rough and maybe it deserved a remaster.

 Dischotomy / Rarities 1971-74 by STRING DRIVEN THING album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1992
3.31 | 4 ratings

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Dischotomy / Rarities 1971-74
String Driven Thing Prog Folk

Review by taylor1956

4 stars While SDT, at first, could be labeled a prog-folk group, but by the time they became fully electric, their sound became darker, harder-edged and the lyrics full of existential black humor. In this sense, they stood out like sore thumbs in the UK prog scence; no tales of elves and Tolkien here. "Dischotomy," while not essential to casual fans, is more than some stripped-down, dog-eared demos. On the contrary, several could have made the official releases. This makes "Dischotomy" essential to listeners drawn by their two Charisma albums. In later incarnations with Chris Adams, SDT became more less distinct; gone was the edge, replaced with melancholy Americana. But, hey, you don't think the same at 65 as you did at 25. Tragically, Chris Adams died a few years back, cutting off any possible resusitation of earlier SD.
 String Driven Thing by STRING DRIVEN THING album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.33 | 12 ratings

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String Driven Thing
String Driven Thing Prog Folk

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars STRING DRIVEN THING were a Prog Folk contraption who were first assembled in Glasgow, Scotland in 1967. The two vital cogs in the machine were husband and wife duo Chris Adams and Pauline Adams with added power provided by Graham Smith on electric violin. The band were apparently lacking inspiration for album titles in their early years as their first two albums released in 1970 and 1972 were simply titled "String Driven Thing". There were three further album releases in the mid-1970's:- "The Machine That Cried" (1973); "Please Mind Your Head" (1974); and "Keep Yer 'and On It" (1975). The machinery then ground to a halt and the band took a VERY long hiatus before cranking it up again over thirty years later with two comeback albums:- "Moments of Truth" (2007) and "Songs from Another Country" (2009). Their first album - reviewed here - featured twelve songs on the original album with another five bonus tracks added on the CD re-issue.

It's time to wake up and smell the coffee for the album opener "July Morning", which is no relation to the rowdy Uriah Heep classic. No, this is an altogether Folkier tune. It's an upbeat feel-good song which is positively bursting with the joys of summer. There's enough joyous optimism here to inspire you to make an acrobatic leap out of bed in the morning, instilled with energy and enthusiasm as you bathe in the warm glow of the vibrant music. Yes, this exuberant song has more Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go energy than a steaming mugful of cappuccino latte coffee. We're travelling down country roads next for "Say What You Like", which is very reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds. This is a virtually unknown "lost classic" which could potentially have been a big hit, given enough radio airplay at the time. Sadly though, this first independently-released album by String Driven Thing disappeared without trace and the original LP album is now like gold dust to record collectors. It's rumoured there were only around a hundred pressings made of the original album, making it about as rare as finding a diamond in the dust. "Magic Garden" is the next song on our musical adventure. This is an all-round good Pop song with a touch of String Driven magic, featuring a driving chug-along beat and an energising electric guitar. It's a wonderful fifty year trip back in time to the days when everything was fabulously hip and groovy, which inevitably brings to mind the old cliche:- "They don't make music like this any more!" - and more's the pity too. Continuing with our wonderful nostalgia trip comes "Wonderful Places", which features a truly heavenly chorus from Pauline Adams. This gorgeous song includes the lyrics "Wonderful places I'm taking you to" - and this lovely song will indeed transport you back to wonderful places where the birds were always singing and everything in the garden was lovely. There's no chance of getting the Bell Bottom Blues listening to this lively piece of music. This is without doubt, a flowers and beads late 1960's sun-drenched summer of love song, so put on those mini-skirts, culottes and go-go boots and get up on the groovy dance floor - and maybe the girls can join in too! The following song "I Don't Wanna Wake Up" will have to be put quietly back to bed, as it's not currently available on YouTube, so we'll move swiftly onto the next song, which is: "City Man". This exhilarating Folk-Rock number about a man making big money in the big city could quite easily have been a "Greed is good" tribute to Gordon Gekko of Wall Street fame. And on the subject of big money, this incredibly rare debut album from String Driven Thing is now worth a Fistful of Dollars, and For a Few Dollars More, you can buy their second self-titled album too!

The Side Two opener "Another Night in This Old City" sounds as lively and colourful as a busy London street filled with trendy Carnaby Street fashions. It's a typically joyous 1970's Folk Pop tune that could have come straight out of The New Seekers songbook. The 8th song "That's My Lady" sounds like a Folk Rock classic that could well have been written and sung by Bob Dylan, even though the song is barely known by anyone other than ardent fans of String Driven Thing. It's another sparkling crystal of a song in an album that's turning out to be a marvellous nostalgia trip. The 9th tune "Catch As Catch Can" appears to be the one that got away as it's not currently available on YouTube, so we'll quickly skip that elusive song and move onto Song No. 10 which is: "No More You and I". The song title implies the sad break-up of a relationship, although the music itself turns out to be the complete opposite. It's another pleasant Folk Pop song with a cheerful vibe that chugs along nicely on a wave of exuberant String Driven energy. Just like the album as a whole, it's a celebratory song imbued with radiant happiness and the joys of being alive. The feel-good vibe continues with "Lie Back and Let It Happen", so just lie back and think of England (or Scotland) and let this glorious sunny music happen to you. This is cheery music designed to brighten up the dullest and darkest of days and it's just the tonic we need right now in our troubled times. We're slowing the pace right down now and ending the album on a sad note with "One of the Lonely People", a melancholic and thought-provoking song about those of us who are unlucky enough to end up spending the rest of our lives living Home Alone.

Take a nostalgic trip back in time to 1970 with the (mostly) cheerful Folk Pop of String Driven Thing. Just wind it up and let the music play!

 The Machine That Cried by STRING DRIVEN THING album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.42 | 51 ratings

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The Machine That Cried
String Driven Thing Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars Dubbed as a classic in some circles, STRING DRIVEN THING's chief claims to fame seem to be their tenure on the "Famous Charisma Label", and their novel use of violin in a rock context, as a lead instrument rather than faux classical accompaniment, and somewhat before "mainstream" prog bands had adopted it.

Let's look at Charisma first. Formed by the manager of VAN DE GRAAF GENERATOR so he could release "The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other", their 1970 album, ultimately they made their mark in the 1970s by providing a hearth for GENESIS and its offshoots. It is thus surprising how many of their signings were barely on the periphery of progressive rock. In particular, in 1970 they rewarded LINDISFARNE with a deal. The Geordie folk rockers outsold the ROLLING STONES for a brief time in the UK, and a year or two later, STRING DRIVEN THING was signed, perhaps in the hope that they could replicate that success.

It turns out that STRING DRIVEN STRING bears a strong resemblance to a hard rocking LINDISFARNE (Chris Adams sounds like ALAN HULL, although his dutiful spouse is more like a CHAKA KHAN-CHRISTINE PERFECT hybrid) with a fiddle on performance enhancing steroids. Unfortunately the augmentation does not seem to impart inspiration, and after a few single note solos and vibratos one has heard the entire repertoire, only to be subject to it again over and over. It's an aural assault that has little to do with prog and even less to do with folk, the taxonomy apparently due to something about the strings. So, when all is said and done, STRING DRIVEN THING's classic album is notable for, oh yes I said that already!

The first couple of tracks are probably the strongest, with "Heartfeeder" and "to See You" displaying the heavy and balladic sides of the band at their peak. "Two Timin' Rama" is the best of those pieces sung by Pauline Adams. The 11 minute "River of Sleep" is a typical prog collage offered up during the genre's halcyon days by band's lacking any serious credentials, its disparate pieces taped together like fragments from three different photographs all shredded simultaneously, until we realize why we shredded them in the first place.

The bonus material actually proposed a more reasonable way forward for the group, as blues balladeers. I have not heard their other albums so cannot comment on whether this approach was followed earlier or later, The prog quotient is even lower than on the original disk but these tracks do possess a certain period charm.

Mostly uninteresting and frequently irritating, THE MACHINE THAT CRIED might be the sort of work that unwittingly inspired a reverse reaction in the form of ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA's silly fiddly bits, which is almost enough to move me to tears.

 String Driven Thing by STRING DRIVEN THING album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.16 | 24 ratings

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String Driven Thing
String Driven Thing Prog Folk

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.

 The Machine That Cried by STRING DRIVEN THING album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.42 | 51 ratings

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The Machine That Cried
String Driven Thing Prog Folk

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars I picked up this CD, the "band official version", a year or so ago, when I found it very cheap in a used CD store. I'm glad I didn't pay more fore it.

I don't know any of this group's other albums, but to me this album is barely progressive. The majority of the tracks are sixties style psychedelic rock, similar to the early Jefferson Airplane albums. To make it worse, Chris Adams too often sings in a faux Bob Dylan style (it's bad enough when Dylan himself does it).

The only prog track is the last one on the original album, River Of Sleep, a tune that meanders through some spacey territory. Another good track on the album is Heartfeeder. While not terribly progressive, the primal scream aspect makes it interesting.

The three bonus tracks on my CD are okay, but spoil the mood after the origuinal album ending, the aforementioned River Of Sleep.

Not bad for a psychedelic album, but not a favorite of mine.

 Please Mind Your Head by STRING DRIVEN THING album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.62 | 17 ratings

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Please Mind Your Head
String Driven Thing Prog Folk

Review by arachnophobiac

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 favorite. Kim Beacon's vocals combined with Graham Smith's violin and some catchy tunes made this a step up from the previous offerings featuring the Adamses. Don't get me wrong, I thought parts of the previous album's were quite good--especially the songs carried by Smith's violin work--but I prefer the sound of the revised lineup. The Stevie Wonder cover that closes out the album is one of my all time favorites. For anyone interested, this album (along with "Keep yer 'and on it") is finally being released in the U.S. on CD in March 2010. I've been wanting to replace my scratchy vinyl for a long time.
 Moments of Truth by STRING DRIVEN THING album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.79 | 5 ratings

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Moments of Truth
String Driven Thing Prog Folk

Review by alextorres2

4 stars This is surprisingly good! For those who remember this band from the days of the classic "The Machine That Cried", then gone are the electric violin and the female lead vocal singing so the soundscape is quite different but the songsmithing is first class and this is a very enjoyable album to listen to. What we have here are excellent songs, guitar based and with plenty of melody, beautifully sung, played at a slowish tempo - time to enjoy the lyrics, written by and to be enjoyed by those of us, at a certain stage in life, when there is much to reminisce about. This is classic rock - intelligent, well arranged and played songs. Not very proggy, or it would get an easy 5 stars, it feels churlish to give it only 4. Well recommended!
 Keep Yer 'and On It by STRING DRIVEN THING album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.70 | 15 ratings

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Keep Yer 'and On It
String Driven Thing Prog Folk

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Stand back in amazement

"Keep yer 'and on it" was the second album by the radically transformed line up of String Driven Thing led by Grahame Smith; it also proved to be their last. After the disappointing "Please mind your head", the band came back with a fine collection of rock based songs featuring strong compositions and excellent performances all round.

Both sides of the album open with similar up tempo numbers with strong hooks and a rich sound. "Starving in the tropics" has a pragmatic but sensitive message, while "But I do" is a nicely twisted love song. Kim Beacon, who was the principal vocalist on Tony Bank's first album "A curious feeling" (but sadly is no longer with us), is on fine form throughout. His voice may be something of an acquired taste, being somewhere between John Wetton and Tom Jones(!), but for me he was one of the best in the business.

The songs are generally straight forward, the exception being the superb interpretation of the Beatles "Things we said today". Here the band allow themselves a little more latitude, developing the instrumentals aspects, and briefly exploring psychedelic territories.

The ballad "Ways of a woman" may be schmaltzy, with weeping violin, but it is performed tenderly and Beacon offers his most soulful performance of the album. The melancholy mood continues on the reflective "Part of it", a song which would have suited the previous line up well. The subtitle of "Chains (I wanna be just like Stan Bowles)" will mean little to younger members, but think early 70's British football.

"Stand back in amazement" and "Call out for mercy" are excellent pop rock songs, certainly not challenging, but enjoyable nonetheless. And that pretty much sums up the album. "Keep yer 'and on it" may have a silly title and a poor sleeve design (Grahame Smith's name is even misspelled throughout) and it will certainly never win any prog awards, but seen for what it is, it is an accomplished and enjoyable album.

Worth a listen.

Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition. and to Fitzcarraldo for the last updates

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