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STRAWBS

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Strawbs biography
One of the better British progressive groups, The STRAWBS were a 60's folk and medieval band turned prog-rock with the help of Dave COUSINS (the heart and soul of this group) and Rick WAKEMAN "master of the keyboards". WAKEMAN is featured on the albums "Strawbs", "Dragonfly", "Just A Collection of...", and "From The Witchwood" before he joined YES. The line-up for the group changed markedly over the years. Their sound has been in a state of constant evolution combining English folk and progressive sounds to form their unique style. Critics seem to have a preference for the STRAWBS in the early Seventies when the group consisted of Tony & John HOOPER, John FORD, Richard HUDSON and keyboard virtuoso Rick WAKEMAN. The group ceased to exist at the end of the 1970s, and COUSINS embarked on some solo projects. STRAWBS would appeal to fans of bands like FAIRPORT CONVENTION, STEELEYE SPAN, PENTANGLE, etc.

They have recorded over 15 albums through the years, with various lineups around the core of Dave COUSINS who offered beautiful melodic compositions. Every STRAWBS album between "Witchwood" and "Nomadness" has something unique to offer. A perfect introduction to the sound of The STRAWBS is the compilation-CD "A Choice of Strawbs" (16 tracks). It features all their best material from their most creative and "symphonic" period (between '71 and '74). The music of The STRAWBS frequently ranges from folky (acoustic guitars) and classic (piano and harpsichord) to bombastic, symphonic rock (fiery electric guitar and glorious Mellotron in the vein of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST and The MOODY BLUES). The vocals are powerful with a lot of expression. Another great introduction to The STRAWBS is their live CD entitled "In concert" with BBC recordings from '73 and '74, including compelling renditions of their best works. The lush Mellotron sound evokes every time goose bumps on my skin!

1971 - "From The Witchwood" was a release that represented the transitional phase and search for their definitive sound and style.
1972 - "Grave New World" was their first symphonic album, and remained their finest moments, with great songwriting, great arrangements and superb performance all-round. This is a GREAT ALBUM!
1973 - "Bursting at the Seams" was the break through album for the STRAWBS because it marked the last major transformation of the group.
1974 - "Hero & Heroine" showed that a classical sensibility can be combined with rock music and make for wonderful list...
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PrognosticPrognostic
Witchwood Media 2014
Audio CD$8.68
$8.67 (used)
Just a Collection of Antiques & CuriosJust a Collection of Antiques & Curios
Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$4.66
$3.35 (used)
From the WitchwoodFrom the Witchwood
Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$4.66
$3.35 (used)
Choice Selection of StrawbsChoice Selection of Strawbs
Import
Polygram Int'l 1999
Audio CD$27.99
$7.48 (used)
DragonflyDragonfly
Import
INgrooves Fontana/UMe Imports 2008
Audio CD$4.75
$8.02 (used)
Acoustic GoldAcoustic Gold
Witchwood Media 2011
Audio CD$9.60
$9.59 (used)
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6h 48m
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13h 50m
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15h 28m
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15h 28m
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17h 29m
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18h 30m
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20h 6m
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23h 14m
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CD from the witchwood
STRAWBS
~ USD $13.85
CD prince and princess radio show
STRAWBS
~ USD $13.85
LP strawbs
STRAWBS
~ USD $20.59
CD strawbs (first)
STRAWBS
~ USD $13.85


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STRAWBS shows & tickets


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STRAWBS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

STRAWBS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.02 | 59 ratings
Strawbs
1969
3.03 | 68 ratings
Dragonfly
1970
4.01 | 176 ratings
From The Witchwood
1971
4.16 | 246 ratings
Grave New World
1972
3.55 | 123 ratings
Bursting At The Seams
1973
4.15 | 232 ratings
Hero And Heroine
1974
3.97 | 131 ratings
Ghosts
1975
2.50 | 58 ratings
Nomadness
1975
2.73 | 50 ratings
Deep Cuts
1976
2.52 | 42 ratings
Burning For You
1977
2.85 | 36 ratings
Deadlines
1978
2.97 | 21 ratings
Don't Say Goodbye
1987
2.80 | 16 ratings
Ringing Down The Years
1991
2.63 | 25 ratings
Heartbreak Hill
1995
3.52 | 15 ratings
Baroque & Roll (as Acoustic Strawbs)
2001
2.74 | 22 ratings
Blue Angel
2003
3.10 | 21 ratings
Deja Fou
2004
3.50 | 34 ratings
The Broken Hearted Bride
2008
3.25 | 25 ratings
Dancing To The Devil's Beat
2009
3.88 | 20 ratings
Hero & Heroine In Ascencia
2011
2.58 | 17 ratings
Prognostic
2014

STRAWBS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.68 | 60 ratings
Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios
1970
2.29 | 9 ratings
The Strawbs' Greatest Hits Live
1993
3.67 | 13 ratings
BBC in concert
1995
2.44 | 8 ratings
Concert Classics
1999
3.38 | 4 ratings
The Complete Strawbs (Chiswick '98 Live)
2000
2.05 | 2 ratings
Full Bloom, Acoustic Strawbs Live
2004
3.57 | 6 ratings
Live At Nearfest
2005
3.67 | 20 ratings
Painted Sky
2005
3.66 | 4 ratings
Recollection
2006
3.05 | 3 ratings
NY '75
2007
4.00 | 2 ratings
40th Anniversary Celebration: Vol 1: Strawberry Fayre
2010
3.00 | 1 ratings
40th Anniversary Celebration Vol. 2: Rick Wakeman and Dave Cousins
2010
4.08 | 3 ratings
Live At The BBC Vol Two: In Concert
2010
3.17 | 3 ratings
Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session
2010

STRAWBS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.11 | 6 ratings
Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
1998
4.04 | 9 ratings
Strawbs Live In Tokyo '75 / Grave New World The Movie
2003
4.08 | 4 ratings
Acoustic Live In Toronto At Hugh's Room
2004
3.00 | 3 ratings
Lay Down With The Strawbs (DVD)
2008

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

2.66 | 23 ratings
All Our Own Work
1973
2.44 | 7 ratings
Strawbs by Choice
1974
2.51 | 5 ratings
Early Strawbs
1974
3.78 | 10 ratings
Classic Strawbs
1977
3.78 | 13 ratings
The Best of Strawbs
1978
2.66 | 8 ratings
Preserved Uncanned
1990
3.49 | 18 ratings
A Choice Selection of Strawbs
1992
3.63 | 16 ratings
Halcyon Days (UK Release)
1997
3.97 | 13 ratings
Halcyon Days (US Release)
1998
3.00 | 1 ratings
30 Years in Rock, Classic Rock Legends
2001
2.81 | 6 ratings
The Collection
2002
4.40 | 3 ratings
Tears And Pavan (An Introduction To Strawbs)
2002
3.13 | 4 ratings
20th Century Masters - Millenium Collection
2003
4.23 | 12 ratings
A Taste of Strawbs
2006
4.13 | 6 ratings
Acoustic Gold
2011
3.90 | 2 ratings
Witchwood: the Very Best of....
2014

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

2.40 | 6 ratings
Strawberry Sampler number 1
1969

STRAWBS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Live At The BBC Vol Two: In Concert by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2010
4.08 | 3 ratings

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Live At The BBC Vol Two: In Concert
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars The second of the Strawbs's Live at the BBC: In Concert is just what this double CD features. Outtakes from three concerts dating from 1971, 1973 and 1974 are featured and include the group's best known and appreciated songs from the album's From the Witchwood, Grave New World, Bursting at the Seams and the group's prog masterpiece Hero and Heroine. All of the essential songs from Hangman And The Papist, New Word, Down By The Sea through to all album highlights from Hero and Heroine are included.

As with Vol One, Vol Two's material was well rehearsed and played again owing to the need to present decent sounding album ttracks to the British public who were restricted from listening to actual album cuts or singles due to the BBC 'needle time" restrictions with the UK's Musician's Union.

Rick Wakeman is only present for the first concert from 1971 but he shines as usual as does his replacements Blue Weaver and John Hawken who demonstrate that both were masters of their Mellotron as well as great pianists. Highlights of these concerts include an a wonderful instrumental piano into organ jam featuring Wakeman titled RMW which I initially thought was Wakeman's initials until I discovered that his middle name is Christopher (!) along with an great extended organ jam on the coda to the song Sheep.

Highlights from the John Hawken era group feature a few older songs such as New Word and The River/Down By the Sea that are magnificent with Hawken's incredible Mellotron, complete with choir setting, virtually exceeds the orchestrated album cuts found on Bursting at the Seams album.This group naturally does justice to all of the Hero and Heroine tracks as they are motivated by the great crowd reaction and are naturally at the top of their game.

The addition of rocker dave Lambert for the 1973 and 1974 concerts definitely gives a greater overall vocal delivery from the group as well as the obvious shift to a more rocking (and louder) sound.

My sole complaint with Live at The BBC Vol Two is some uneven vocal mixing on a few songs of each concert, but overall, it's a great concert presentation of the Strawbs.

We again return to the question of how essential is this album to Strawbs' fans. I would have to say that it is very essential based on the diversity of the material, the diversity of the performers from different eras, the quality of the performances and the excellent re-mastered sound. 4 stars.

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 Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2010
3.17 | 3 ratings

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Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

3 stars One of the harder issues to balance in an album review is determining how essential a given work is to an artist's fans.

The Strawbs Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session is just such a compilation in question. As opposed to Live At The BBC Vol Two, Vol One is a single CD that contains all of the Strawbs' radio session recordings for broadcast on various BBC radio show such as Top Gear hosted by the legendary John Peel. In his autobiography, Exercising Ghosts, Strawbs' founder and leader Dave Cousins expressed sincere gratitude at being given the chance to perform on the BBC in both the Strawbs and the band's predecessor, The Strawberry Hill Boys. Cousins' stated that the Strawbs put 100% effort in their BBC performances as this supplemented actual album playing time that was cut down owing to an agreement with the UK's Musician's Union. And it shows. Every broadcast performance is easily discernible as a top notch performance from a group that really had only a couple of shots of getting a complicated song like The Battle right in the three hour time limit that was afforded each song by the BBC session producers and studios.

The Battle, from this first CD, is easily it's highpoint as future Strawbs' producer Tony Visconti brought in both Clare Deniz on cello and the great Rick Wakeman on organ to play on this daunting song, and the band and guests easily nail the performance given the limitations of the BBC recording studio's two or three track recording equipment. These sessions would be the first contact of Cousins with both guests, who would ultimately join The Strawbs, albeit briefly.

As time passes, both the Strawbs and the BBC recording studios get noticeably better as does Cousins' songwriting and the addition of later band members like John Ford, Blue Weaver and Dave Lambert easily fortifies their playing ability. Especially on partial jamming songs like the wonderful Is It Today, Lord? while the second recorded version of New World is even more menacing with just Cousins and Toby Hooper handling the vocals while singing over the ominous chords emitting from Blue Weaver's icy Mellotron. Even the hackneyed chart hit Part Of The Union receives an excellent mulit tracked group chorus that revels the original studio version.

Good stuff. But again, we return to the question of how essential is Live At the BBC Vol One: In Session? Well, if you have all of the original albums, then this compilation is superfluous as it simply does not contain any significant recordings of historical value, as opposed to the one off folk rock songs found on the celebrated Fairport Convention BBC sessions album titled Heyday from the same era. So, three stars is a reasonable rating for these well played and recorded (and re-mastered) session songs.

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 Bursting At The Seams by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.55 | 123 ratings

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Bursting At The Seams
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Strawbs were criticized by the English press for abandoning their folk roots and Dave Cousins just managed to confirm these statements, when he put the band on ice for a short time to record and release his debut solo album ''Two weeks last summer'', more or less following the electric approach of Strawbs' last album.The band then hit the road for a really exhausting tour with visits to Europe and the first tranatlantic trip for some dates in The States.After returning to UK for another set of lives, Tony Hooper decided to leave the band, he was among those feeling that Strawbs should insist on their folkier echoes.He was replaced by ex-Fire and King Earl Boogie Band Dave Lambert, who guested also on Cousins' debut album.During the autumn of 73' the band recorded the album ''Bursting at the seams'', released the following year on A&M.

Had the band eventually taken seriously what the press said about their style?I really do not know, but ''Bursting at the seams'' seems like a trip back in time, Strawbs abandoned the long and symphonic-flavored pieces of ''Grave new world'' for a more rural, poppier sound with emphasis on acoustic guitars and piano/keyboards, strong British Folk flavors and melodic tunes without much of an adventurous spirit.Of course the songwriting is pretty efficient as always and the arrangements are sophisticated with some soft electric guitars, light organ and even orchestral colors surrounding the acoustic moves, but the whole opening side recalls their late-60's days with the dominant Psych/Folk enviroment, only saved by the much harder ''Down by the sea'', an intricate mix of sharp electric moves, symphonic Mellotron and folky aesthetics, this is Strawbs at their best.''Tears And Pavan'' is the other piece to remind of KING CRIMSON/GENESIS' early days, featuring omnipresent Mellotron, trembling guitars and a great combination of mandolin and harsichord in the process.''The winter and the summer'' is another goodie of the flipside, basically close to the likes of ANTHONY PHILLIPS with a mellow Symphonic/Folk Rock atmosphere, based on electroacoustic changes and relaxed organ.Definitely the best side of the original album, even other the pair of more laid-back tracks are interesting and charming.

Mix Strawbs from late-60's and early-70's and the result cannot be anything else than ''Bursting at the seams'', a collection of Folk and Prog Rock tunes with a fairly interesting and melodic sound, great vocals and some pretty enganging orchestrations, far from the amazing ''Grave new world'', but still interesting and pleasant.Recommended.

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 Prognostic by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.58 | 17 ratings

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Prognostic
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Mostly great music, but an unnecessary release

Strawbs is a band with many faces and their latest release entitled Prognostic concentrates on their Prog Rock side. For the visitors of this site this is bound to arouse interest, but before you get too excited it must be pointed out that none of the material presented here is new. The first five tracks are re-recorded versions of songs that originally appeared on the albums Heartbreak Hill and The Broken Hearted Bride. The remaining four tracks consist of one live recording and three remastered and remixed versions of older recordings.

Heartbreak Hill was recorded in 1978 and was intended as the follow-up album to Deadlines. However, due to problems with the record company and management, the album was not released at the time. Not until 1995 did the original Heartbreak Hill recordings see the light of day on an official release. In the meantime the reformed band had released two further studio albums in the 80's and early 90's, one of which featured re-recorded versions of three of the songs from the then unreleased Heartbreak Hill sessions: Let It Rain, We Can Make It Together, and Something For Nothing. The latter is once again featured on Prognostic together with two further songs originally from Heartbreak Hill in Starting Over and the title track. The seven and a half minute title track and the 10 minute Starting Over are of special interest. These two tracks qualify among the most progressive ones since the Ghosts album from 1975. Out of these the title track is clearly the best and it is essential for any Strawbs fan to have at least one version of this song.

The Broken Hearted Bride was released in 2008 and it is an excellent Strawbs album. Two songs from that album are featured here, namely Through Aphrodite's Eyes and Deep In The Darkest Night. The latter features Rick Wakeman. Both of these songs are very good, but if you already own The Broken Hearted Bride then you don't really need these versions.

The River/Down By The Sea is a live recording of the track that originally appeared on 1973's Bursting At The Seams album. Blue Angel was originally featured on Dave Cousins' first solo album Two Weeks Last Summer. This is an excellent song and reminds in style of such great Strawbs classics as Autumn and Ghosts. The song was later re- recorded with Strawbs for the album of that same name released in 2003, but here we get the original solo album version. Tomorrow represents 1972's Grave New World and finally Lay A Little Light On Me/Hero's Theme/Round And Round is from 1974's Hero And Heroine.

My recommendation is to get the albums from which these songs originally were taken and then you won't need Prognostic unless you are a serious collector of all things Strawbs.

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 Heartbreak Hill by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.63 | 25 ratings

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Heartbreak Hill
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Anglophile

4 stars I don't quite get all the negative reviews for this album. To me it was the antithesis of the of previous "poppy" late 70's albums just prior to it. We need to remember that this one was recorded in 1978 and then it sat unreleased until 1995. So it's a great snapshot of what was happening just before Dave Cousins called it a day with the music business and went full time into radio. The strongest tunes here are the "proggiest" since "Ghosts" and the main difference is that the Mellotron has been largely superseded by polysynths. All in all I think this is a very strong Starwbs album. Yes; one can complain about a handful of filler songs here but all in all I have to give this one four stars. I enjoy listening to this one just as much as the aforementioned "Ghosts" and "Hero and Heroine".

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 Witchwood: the Very Best of.... by STRAWBS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2014
3.90 | 2 ratings

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Witchwood: the Very Best of....
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars I am not an advocate of compilation albums, mostly because if I am a fan, I have all the albums and if I am not, a best of just doesn't cut it. Why bother to invest in some hodgepodge collection of disparate pieces from different eras with varied musicians? Especially in a style that is so ingrained with concept albums, the argument just has no wheels. The triggers for this Strawbs compilation had two crucial characteristics in swaying my decision to add this to my collection, first being the shockingly great price but mostly due to a sublime cover that has a sprightly, highly evocative Englishness that reminds one of England's "Garden Shed" jacket, certainly one of the finest ever.

There is, however, a very good reason for anyone to purchase this collection, as someone very wise and knowledgeable has put these pieces in sequence, for sake of harmony as well as a fine representation of this legendary bands contribution to the pantheon of rock music. I was actually astounded at the fluidity of the songs right from the delightful opener taken from their debut 1969 album, "Where is this Dream of Our Youth" and gently meandering past all the glory year albums up to the otherwise limp 1975 Nomadness album, which had two fabulous tracks that are represented here, both the sleek "Golden Salamander" and the serene "A Mind of my Own". Fair to say that this is not a real all-encompassing compilation such as a greatest Hits package but a glimpse into a shorter period of time that gives the listener a real appreciation for the sheer talent on display. Classic songs abound, cascading gentle one after the other : Benedictus, New World, Heavy Disguise, Queen of Dreams, then meandering to The River, Down by the Sea, enlightened by Shine on Silver Sun, Round & Round, Hero & Heroine and spooked by a lovely Ghosts medley, before finishing off with the afore-mentioned duo finale.

Some will lament the omissions such as "Grave New World", the perennial "Autumn" suite or my favorite "Midnight Sun" but the only real criticism is the inclusion of their biggest hit single , the piss-poor "Part of the Union" , a pub singalong anthem for AFL-CIO fans out there that actually made the top of British charts back in the days of social injustice.

Whether a fan or not, one gets to revel in the glorious song writing and the sparkling musicianship, as well as appreciating the intense vocals of David Cousins, a unique timbre to say the very least, easily in the company of such odd vocal luminaries as Bob Dylan, Ian Anderson, Tom Waits or Robert Plant. That being said, "Hero and Heroine" remains my all-time favorite music album, having healed my wounds so many times that I lost count. The equally brilliant "Ghosts" lurks not far behind.

Because of the gorgeous packaging and the highly affordable price, this is a no-brainer addition to any collection.

4 fruity delights

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 Deep Cuts  by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.73 | 50 ratings

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Deep Cuts
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

2 stars Desperate measures.

I've noticed quite a few pro and con reviews of this album by the venerated Strawbs, so it might be a good idea to put some things into perspective. Aside from leaving A&M records for Deep Purple's Oyster label, the Strawbs were on a downward slide at this point in their career, especially in their home of England. Dave Cousins was having a hard time coming up with songs so he teamed up bassist Chas Cronk to write the majority of the songs for Deep Cuts, with varying results.

Desperate to have a hit again in the U.K., Cousins and company put themselves in the hands of producer Rupert Holmes (yes, he of the infamous Pina Colada song! Egads!)

Well, with naturally a slicker than slick production sound that emphasized the group's vocal harmonies on a majority of songs (never one of the band's strong suites), mediocre songs simply turned into trash.

The album does have a few stand out tracks, like Simple Visions and Beside the Rio Grande, but Holmes' flat AOR style production simply strangles the songs and renders them sterile.

I can appreciate that the band were taking desperate measures to rejuvenate thier appeal, but I cannot appreciate the results found on this album. It's simply a display of a once great prog band losing direction coupled with waning inspiration and, ultimately, desperation. 2 stars.

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 40th Anniversary Celebration Vol. 2: Rick Wakeman and Dave Cousins by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2010
3.00 | 1 ratings

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40th Anniversary Celebration Vol. 2: Rick Wakeman and Dave Cousins
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

— First review of this album —
3 stars If my review for Vol. 2 of the 40th Anniversary Strawbs album seems shorter when compared to that of Vol. 1, it's because there's less offered to review on this combination CD and DVD set.

Recorded in The Live Room at Twickenham Stadium in September of 2009, this concert of long time friends Cousins and Wakeman takes on an intimate feeling as the The Live Room is a small cozy venue where Cousins and Wakeman can strut their stuff. The concert itself is no more than an hour long and features just 8 songs from the Antiques and Curios/Witchwood era that Wakeman was a part. Wakeman is as elegant a player ever, but Cousins' age weathered voice struggles with many of the belters like The Hangman And The Papist and Martin Luther King's Dream. He does much better on the softer numbers like October to May and Witchwood.

This album does contain one essential track, A Glimpse Of Heaven from the Witchwood album that sounds superb in this stripped down from with just Cousins' vocal and acoustic guitar along with Wakeman's tasteful piano. The tune is much better devoid of the Witchwood version's overproduction that featured a church like choir in the song's chorus.

That's about the sum of the music CD which is devoid of the incredably funny banter between Cousins and Wakeman, and shows just how much love and affection there is between these men. Don't fret because all of this can found on the accompaning DVD.

Wakeman even ventures out into the audience to gather 6 musical notes he needs to improvise his trademark solo instrumental showcase that he used to perform with the Strawbs called Temperment Of Mind (now retitled Temperance Of Mind by Cousins due to Wakeman's new found sobriety).

This CD/DVD is probably essential for diehard Wakeman fans more so than it is for Strawbs' fans. However, no matter how charming it is, better early material exists in this vain from the Strawbs' Antiques and Curios album as well as the recent Witchwood Media release titled Recollection that both showcase a younger, hungrier Wakeman and a more pleasent sounding Cousins. 3 stars as this CD/DVD is not essential for Strawbs's fans. However, Wakeman fans may care to to differ.

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 40th Anniversary Celebration: Vol 1: Strawberry Fayre by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2010
4.00 | 2 ratings

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40th Anniversary Celebration: Vol 1: Strawberry Fayre
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars This forty year anniversary live double CD of the venerated Strawbs is a real treat for fans (nee fanatics) of the band. To start off with, the original Heartbreak Hill line ups kicks off the album with two of Strawbs' best and probably most progressive sounding, if least known, songs they ever recorded, the title track Heartbreak Hill and the almost Genesis like Starting Over. Musicians Andy Richards, Tony Fernandez, Jo Partridge, Chas Cronk and, Of course, Dave Cousins have never played these songs live together and you can tell that they relish every note created during every moment of playing these songs.

Strawbs' long time bassist Chas Cronk does an excellent job of mixing and mastering a very complex and conjested sound and really brings out the details and makes you fell like you have the band playing in your living room.

The second two songs feature the group Cry No More (named afte the Strawbs song) and features Chas Cronk and two gig only Strawbs' replacement singer/guitarist Roy Hill. The acoustic duo are one of the album's revelations, especially on the emtionally moving song Don't Leave Me Here. Hill sings as if he feels every emotion very deeply and the song is even more moving as a result.

Hellfire Blues and Skip To My Lou are newer offerings from Cousins' side project called the Blue Angel Orchestra. Both songs swing and are infectous due to the catchy fiddle playing of folk stalwart Ian Cutler.

All I Need is You and On My Way are two early Sandy and The Strawbs tunes that feature Prog legend Sonja Kristina subbing for the late Sandy Denny. Of course Sonja doesn't have Sandy's depth and range, but she does an enthuestic cover of the two songs while fronting the Acoustic Strawbs. For those unaware, Sonja joined the Strawbs for one gig after Denny left before moving on to Curved Air fame.

The elecrtic Strawbs featuring Rick Wakeman's son Oliver (John Hawkin was recovering from an illness at the time) do a pedestrian covers of Sheep and Autumn, and the first CD starts to drag at this point except for a mesmorising cover of the Graham/Jansch standard Angi. The song is performed by Dave Lambert's side gig Zeus that features twin acoustic guitar magic by band members Lambert and Graeme Taylor.

The last two songs are disc two are perhaps the two best and extremely mellow offerings from the special concert duo of Cousins and super guest star Rick Wakeman, that can also be found on Strawberry Fayre Vol. 2. A little more on that later.

Cd 2 starts off with covers of two rare solo Cousins songs Blue Angel and Cry No More with a version of Strawbs featuring eighties guitarist Brain Willoughby and his long time singing partner Cathryn Craig on backing vocals, who does an excellent job of soothing Cousins now weather beaten voice.

Craig and Willoughby are featured on two songs as a duo and both are another album revalation as Craigs voice is both poewerful, emotive and attractive while Willooughby's acoustic guitar playing is virtually other worldly.

Another highlight are two solo John Ford songs that shows off his still excellent voice and catchy acoustic guitar abilities, along with two songs by Lambert's pre Strawbs band Fire. Fire sound like a wonderful combination of the the Who and the Kinks and have a Kinks like song aesthetic with one number titled Father's Name Was Dad. Both songs were catchy and heavy with a slight punkish feel. Good stuff.

The album closes out with more pedestrian acoustic and electric Strawbs and solo Cousins numbers like Grace Darling, save for definitive versions of Josephine, For Better Or For Worse, Evergreen and Where Silent Shadows Fall. The latter two features accompaniment with The Royal Artillery Orchestra conducted by long time Strawbs arranger the late Robert Kirby.

Overall, this two CD set sounds very good for a live recording and some of the songs actually sound quite stellar.

The only fault that I can find with it is the placing of the two Wakeman And Cousins offerings on CD 1 that were also included on the following CD titled Stawberry Fayre Vol.2, which contains the entire Wakeman/Cousins concert plus a DVD of their concert and humorous stage banter.

With the stellar offerings from both Cry No More And Craig & Willoughby, a better idea would have been to include an additional song each from both groups and delete the two redundent Wakeman/Cousins songs.

I cannot imagine any diehard Strawbs fan not enjoying this offering to the full so I will award it 4 stars. It may not be an essential prog album, but it is certainly an essential Strawbs album! Enjoy the celebration!

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 Hero And Heroine by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.15 | 232 ratings

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Hero And Heroine
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Dr÷mmarenAdrian

4 stars The English rock band Strawbs has made twenty-one studio records. One was released this october and I look forward to perhaps review it. "Hero and heroine" which is the subject of the day is their second most rated and also their second highest ranked record after 1972's "Grave new world".

"Strawbs" is avery special band which music is inspired by folk music, classical music and rock'n'roll music as well. The debut album "Strawbs" came 1969 and "Hero and Heroine" is their sixth effort. The cover picture is white and shows a hand grabbing a white dove who is flying. The line up is Dave Cousins(vocals, guitars), Dave Lambert(vocals, guitars), John Hawken(piano, organ, mellotron, synthesizer), Chas Cronk(bass, synthesizer, vocals) and Rod Coombes(drums, percussion, vocals). Let's finally say it has gone as much as fourty years since this was new music.

We face a record with many lovely songs between quite pure pop rock and prog music. The starting composition "Autumn" is also the best (10/10) and a reason to hear the record. This long song contains classical moods as well as more folky and symphonic rock patterns. Second best on the record is the title track "Hero and heroine" (8/10) a cool innovative rock song with a heavy symphonic main structure. "Sad young man"(8/10) is another of the record's jewels, an intriguing and special bit. The pop song "Lay a little light on me"(8/10) is also recommended, it reminds me a bit of Genesis in the beginning but the pop feeling is more like Electric Light Orchestra. The closer "Hero's them"8/10) is mighty as well. Furthermore should you of course listen to "Out in the cold" and "Round and round". The remaining three songs are of less interest.

Over all is Strawbs work here something quite unique and I am curious to further investigate their discography. I rate this record 3.7 which becomes four stars. It's not a prog masterpiece and yet very interesting. Best song: "Autumn"

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