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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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Buy STRAWBS Music


Live In GettysburgLive In Gettysburg
WITCHWOOD MEDIA 2017
Audio CD$12.39
$12.97 (used)
Grave New WorldGrave New World
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$4.91
$3.33 (used)
Hero & HeroineHero & Heroine
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$4.81
$3.81 (used)
Hero And HeroinHero And Heroin
Witchwood Media 2016
Audio CD$6.50
$12.46 (used)
From the WitchwoodFrom the Witchwood
Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$5.78
$5.85 (used)
GhostsGhosts
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$8.68
$6.25 (used)
StrawbsStrawbs
Import
Imports 2008
Audio CD$15.87
$11.44 (used)
BBC Radio 1 in ConcertBBC Radio 1 in Concert
BBC Windsong 1995
Audio CD$39.99
$16.53 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
The Strawbs / Halcyon Days - The Very Best Of The Strawbs - 2CD - MINT USD $9.64 Buy It Now 1h 42m
SANDY DENNY & THE STRAWBS - ALL OUR OWN WORK 2013 JAPAN MINI LP CD USD $25.70 [0 bids]
1h 52m
STRAWBS - STRAWBERRY MUSIC SAMPLER No.1 2013 JAPAN MINI LP CD USD $25.70 [0 bids]
1h 53m
STRAWBS Burning For You vinyl LP 1977 Polydor Records EX IN Shrink USD $7.95 Buy It Now 2h
STRAWBS ~ THE BROKEN HEARTED BRIDGE ~ 2008 LIKE NEW CD USD $12.00 Buy It Now 2h
PAPER BUBBLE - SCENERY 1969 UK POP FOLK HARMONY w/ RICK WAKEMAN ERA STRAWBS CD USD $14.95 Buy It Now 2h 13m
STRAWBS - 'Keep On Trying (1977 7'')'. USD $3.79 Buy It Now 2h 44m
Strawbs From The Witchwood A-1 B-1 UK LP A&M AMLH 64304 1971 EX/EX USD $19.27 Buy It Now 3h 7m
STRAWBS DEE CUTS WHITE LABEL PROMO PROG ROCK NM USD $6.99 Buy It Now 3h 14m
Rick Wakeman - No Earthly Connection - AMLK 64583 - Yes, Strawbs - VG USD $10.27 Buy It Now 4h 29m
Strawbs 2 LP lot Ghosts/Hero & Heroine orig Vinyl NM with lyric sleeves USD $10.00 [0 bids]
4h 49m
Strawbs Tour Programme 2000 tour programme UK TOUR PROGRAMME STRAWBSWEB USD $24.36 Buy It Now 5h 7m
Strawbs Pages From An Autograph Book memorabilia UK Autographed AUTOGRAPHS N/A USD $100.22 Buy It Now 5h 8m
Strawbs Suffolk & Good Festival tour programme UK TOUR PROGRAMME NETHERGATE USD $37.22 Buy It Now 5h 43m
Strawbs vinyl LP album record Hero And Heroine South African AMLS63607 A USD $37.22 Buy It Now 5h 44m
High Seas Strawbs CD album (CDLP) German WMCD2030 MORADA MUSIC 2005 USD $19.92 Buy It Now 5h 49m
Strawbs vinyl LP album record From The Witchwood - 1st - VG UK AMLH64304 A USD $28.22 Buy It Now 6h 7m
I Only Want My Love To Grow In You Strawbs UK 7" vinyl single record 2066705 USD $14.07 Buy It Now 6h 15m
RICK WAKEMAN "Myths And Legends..." Japan RM Top 70's UK prog psych YES STRAWBS USD $7.99 Buy It Now 6h 34m
Part Of The Union Strawbs 7" vinyl single record UK AMS7047 A&M 1973 USD $14.08 Buy It Now 6h 35m
STRAWBS ~ JAPAN MINI LP CD, 6 ALBUMS, ORIGINAL, ULTRA RARE, OOP USD $240.00 Buy It Now 6h 49m
Live At The Calderone New York '75 - Strawbs (CD Used Very Good) USD $13.35 Buy It Now 6h 51m
Strawbs - Deadlines 1978 USA Orig. Lyrics E/E USD $2.99 [0 bids]
7h
Strawbs - Hero And Heroine 1973 USA Orig. Lyrics E/E USD $2.99 [1 bids]
7h 4m
(LP) STRAWBS - Strawbs / AMLS 936 / Gatefold / VG+/VG+ / Dave Cousins AUTO / UK USD $49.99 Buy It Now 7h 34m
STRAWBS Deadlines LP 1978 Arista Records Prog Rock Music Vinyl AB4172 USD $14.99 Buy It Now 11h 4m
STRAWBS Hero and Heroine LP 1974 A&M Records SP 3607 Prog Rock Music Vinyl USD $14.97 Buy It Now 11h 5m
THE STRAWBS - STRAWBS USED - VERY GOOD CD USD $10.95 Buy It Now 11h 37m
Strawbs - Deep Cuts / 1976 Oyster/Polydor Records OY-1-1603 with Lyric Sleeve USD $8.95 Buy It Now 12h 46m
Strawbs: Deep Cuts 1976 Polydor / Oyster Records # OY-1-1603 PROG ROCK Sealed LP USD $9.99 [0 bids]
13h 9m
STRAWBS-BURNING FOR YOU-JAPAN MINI LP CD BONUS TRACK Fi83 USD $27.99 Buy It Now 14h 4m
STRAWBS-OF A TIME-JAPAN MINI LP CD BONUS TRACK Fi56 USD $26.50 Buy It Now 14h 25m
SANDY DENNY & STRAWBS-ALL OUR OWN WORK-JAPAN MINI LP CD BONUS TRACK Fi83 USD $27.99 Buy It Now 14h 40m
STRAWBS-DEADLINES-JAPAN MINI LP CD BONUS TRACK Fi83 USD $27.99 Buy It Now 14h 42m
STRAWBS-DEEP CUTS-JAPAN MINI LP CD BONUS TRACK Fi83 USD $27.99 Buy It Now 14h 48m
The Strawbs - Witchwood (The Very Best Of, 2014) USD $5.13 Buy It Now 14h 54m
STRAWBS+Deadlines+TOUR+POSTER+AD+RARE ORIGINAL 1978+FRAMED+EXPRESS GLOBAL SHIP USD $89.94 Buy It Now 16h 30m
From The Witchwood Strawbs UK CD album (CDLP) 540939-2 A & M 1998 USD $13.50 Buy It Now 19h 20m
Strawbs Lay Down 7" A&M AMS7035 EX 1972 b-side by Ciggy Barlust & The Whales Fro USD $9.64 Buy It Now 19h 41m
STRAWBS-STRAWBERRY MUSIC SAMPLER NO.1-JAPAN MINI LP CD Fi56 USD $26.50 Buy It Now 19h 43m
STRAWBS - LP - BURSTING AT THE SEAMS- A&M RECORDS UK - AMLH 68144 USD $5.13 [0 bids]
19h 48m
Strawbs Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios ... vinyl LP record UK USD $43.65 Buy It Now 19h 49m
Lay Down Strawbs 7" vinyl single record UK AMS7035 A&M 1972 USD $12.78 Buy It Now 19h 55m
Strawbs-Live In Gettysburg (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $16.95 Buy It Now 20h 19m
Strawbs - 1st - VG Strawbs vinyl LP album record UK AMLS936 A&M 1969 USD $37.22 Buy It Now 20h 19m
Deep Cuts Strawbs UK vinyl LP album record 2391234 OYSTER 1976 USD $17.94 Buy It Now 20h 19m
Strawbs The Collection CD album (CDLP) UK 544706-2 SPECTRUM 2002 USD $16.07 Buy It Now 20h 22m
Strawbs vinyl LP album record Bursting At The Seams - EX UK AMLH68144 A USD $37.22 Buy It Now 20h 26m
Strawbs 1973 Tour tour programme UK TOUR PROGRAMME 1973 USD $62.29 Buy It Now 20h 36m
Strawbs Just A Collection Of Antiques & Curios CD album (CDLP) Japanese USD $41.77 Buy It Now 20h 39m
Strawbs The Strawbs UK CD album (CDLP) 5302679 MERCURY RECORDS 2008 USD $16.06 Buy It Now 20h 39m
THE STRAWBS burning for you to 391 287 A2/B early press uk oyster LP PS VG/EX- USD $11.56 Buy It Now 21h 3m
Sandy Denny And The Strawbs Strawbs CD album (CDLP) European HNCD1361 HANNIBAL USD $28.92 Buy It Now 21h 4m
Deadlines Strawbs USA CD album (CDLP) OW34499 ARISTA 1996 USD $22.49 Buy It Now 21h 4m
Strawbs Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session UK CD album (CDLP) 5320507 USD $22.49 Buy It Now 21h 5m
The Strawbs - Dancing to the Devils Beat [New CD] USD $14.98 Buy It Now 21h 34m
Dancing To The Devil's Beat - Strawbs (CD Used Very Good) USD $12.98 Buy It Now 21h 59m
STRAWBS Lay Down A&M 7" 1972 USD $1.53 Buy It Now 22h 29m
STRAWBS DEEP CUTS VINYL LP RECORD ALBUM (1976) USD $2.99 Buy It Now 23h 27m
THE STRAWBS - Part Of The Union - Classic 1973 UK 2-track 7" Vinyl Single USD $11.56 Buy It Now 23h 52m
The Strawbs - Dancing to the Devils Beat [New CD] USD $13.57 Buy It Now 1 day
The Strawbs First Album 1969 A&M UK A-1 T/ B-1 T Stunning Archive/ Top Copy! USD $325.00 Buy It Now 1 day
The Strawbs Dragonfly 1970 A&M UK 1st Press A-1/ B-2 Archive/ Top Copy USD $99.98 Buy It Now 1 day
Hero and Heroine [Bonus Tracks] [Remaster] by The Strawbs (CD, Aug-1998,... USD $5.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Strawbs Bursting At The Seams Rare 1973 A2/B2 1st UK A & M Mustard AMLH 68144 USD $5.13 Buy It Now 1 day
THE STRAWBS - DRAGONFLY [BONUS TRACKS] NEW CD USD $9.60 Buy It Now 1 day
The Strawbs - Lay Down 7" /backside ciggy barlust&the whales from venus ex USD $5.13 Buy It Now 1 day
CD-The Strawbs-Alive in America 70's eclectic UK folk psych rock USD $6.99 Buy It Now 1 day
The Strawbs - Nomadness [New CD] UK - Import USD $6.48 Buy It Now 1 day
Strawbs, The collection, 18 Track CD USD $4.50 [0 bids]
1 day
STRAWBS burning for you LP Record 1977 RARE USD $17.50 Buy It Now 1 day
The Strawbs - Lay Down 7" - AMS 7035 - Ex USD $4.49 Buy It Now 1 day
The Strawbs Shine On Silver Sun UK 45 7" single USD $3.84 Buy It Now 1 day
Paul Brett (Strawbs) Earth Birth Original 1977 UK RCA LP USD $10.29 Buy It Now 1 day
Paul Brett (Strawbs) Earth Birth Original 1977 UK RCA LP Unplayed Biog USD $25.72 Buy It Now 1 day
Paul Brett (Strawbs) Eclipse 1979 RCA UK Unplayed LP USD $12.86 Buy It Now 1 day
Strawbs / Painted Sky (Witchwood) - Strawbs - Audio CD USD $65.95 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS Burning For You LP Polydor/Oyster 1977 w/ Inner Sleeve Progressive Rock USD $3.00 [0 bids]
1 day
Strawbs "Grave New World" LP USD $4.95 [0 bids]
1 day
STRAWBS "Bursting At The Seams" Original UK LP (A&M AMLH 68144) Translucent RED USD $10.00 [0 bids]
1 day
STRAWBS "Hero And Heroine" rare WHITE LABEL PROMO LP from 1974 (A&M SP 3607) USD $10.00 [0 bids]
1 day
STRAWBS From The Witchwood ?JAPAN 1ST PRESS? LP G/F AML-117 OBI INSERT NM/NM-- USD $90.00 [0 bids]
1 day
STRAWBS Recollection -Live 1970- AIRAC-5008 CD JAPAN 2013 NEW USD $86.93 Buy It Now 1 day
Strawbs LP Vinyl Record Album "Bursting at the Seams" 1973 USD $1.05 [0 bids]
1 day
STRAWBS 7" VINYL C/S HOLD ON TO ME (THE WINTER LONG) AMS 7117 1974 EX " USD $7.65 Buy It Now 1 day
LP STRAWBS DEEP CUTS 1976 OYSTER SEALED MINT USD $29.98 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS ?- Bursting At The Seams (LP) (VG-EX/G-VG) USD $14.13 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS ?- From The Witchwood (LP) (VG+/VG) USD $68.13 Buy It Now 1 day
THE STRAWBS LP "BURSTING AT THE SEAMS" ORIGINAL 1973 PRESSING. USD $5.79 [0 bids]
1 day
STRAWBS ?- Hero And Heroine (LP) (EX-/G++) USD $15.42 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS - LAY DOWN / BACKSIDE VINYL 7" SINGLE USD $1.29 [0 bids]
1 day
The Strawbs Just a Collection of Antiques & Curios LP Album 1970 A&M # SP4288 USD $12.99 Buy It Now 1 day
A&M Odyssey (Altec Experience) LP GATEFOLD Rick Wakeman Strawbs Sandy Denny USD $4.99 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS FROM THE WITCHWOOD 1971 JAPAN 11 +++++ CD OBI 3200yen D32Y 1ST PRESS USD $79.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Strawbs - Of A Time (NEW CD) USD $16.38 Buy It Now 1 day
Strawbs Deadlines New Sealed Cellophane One Way Records OOP FREE SHIPPING CD USD $19.99 Buy It Now 1 day
1973 STRAWBS BURSTING AT THE SEAMS A&M RECORDS AMLH 68144 A4/B2 EXC USD $6.60 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS NOMADNESS 1976 UNIQUE LABEL EXYUGO LP USD $14.24 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS TOUR DATES ORIGINAL ADVERT 16 X 12" POSTER SIZE 2 OCT 1976 USD $16.70 Buy It Now 1 day
THE STRAWBS - FROM THE WITCHWOOD - UK A & M A1//B1 - LP USD $12.84 Buy It Now 1 day

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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)

3.08 | 69 ratings
Strawbs
1969
3.13 | 81 ratings
Dragonfly
1970
4.02 | 206 ratings
From The Witchwood
1971
4.15 | 284 ratings
Grave New World
1972
3.56 | 141 ratings
Bursting At The Seams
1973
2.75 | 27 ratings
Sandy Denny And The Strawbs: All Our Own Work
1973
4.15 | 277 ratings
Hero And Heroine
1974
4.03 | 150 ratings
Ghosts
1975
2.51 | 65 ratings
Nomadness
1975
2.74 | 59 ratings
Deep Cuts
1976
2.54 | 48 ratings
Burning For You
1977
2.86 | 41 ratings
Deadlines
1978
2.99 | 27 ratings
Don't Say Goodbye
1987
2.68 | 20 ratings
Ringing Down The Years
1991
2.72 | 31 ratings
Heartbreak Hill [Aka: Starting Over]
1995
3.54 | 20 ratings
Acoustic Strawbs: Baroque & Roll
2001
2.77 | 27 ratings
Blue Angel
2003
3.12 | 27 ratings
Déjà Fou
2004
3.49 | 39 ratings
The Broken Hearted Bride
2008
3.26 | 30 ratings
Dancing To The Devil's Beat
2009
3.61 | 28 ratings
Hero & Heroine In Ascencia
2011
2.59 | 21 ratings
Prognostic
2014

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

3.72 | 67 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
2.45 | 9 ratings
Concert Classics
1999
3.34 | 4 ratings
The Complete Strawbs (Chiswick '98 Live)
2000
2.35 | 3 ratings
Full Bloom, Acoustic Strawbs Live
2004
3.65 | 8 ratings
Live At Nearfest
2005
3.83 | 14 ratings
Painted Sky
2005
3.66 | 4 ratings
Recollection
2006
3.00 | 3 ratings
NY '75
2007
4.91 | 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
4.00 | 4 ratings
Live At The BBC Vol Two: In Concert
2010
3.15 | 4 ratings
Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session
2010
4.00 | 1 ratings
Live In Gettysburg
2017

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

3.11 | 6 ratings
Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
1998
4.00 | 8 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)

2.44 | 7 ratings
Strawbs by Choice
1974
2.52 | 6 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
3.52 | 16 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
2.00 | 1 ratings
Of a Time
2012
3.90 | 2 ratings
Witchwood: the Very Best of....
2014

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

2.28 | 6 ratings
Strawberry Sampler number 1
1969

STRAWBS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Live In Gettysburg by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2017
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Live In Gettysburg
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

— First review of this album —
4 stars I'm not sure who has milked their biggest album more. Roger Waters with his never ending Wall remakes and newer concert performances, or the Strawbs beating Hero And Heroine to death with this surprisingly good concert performance of the entire album, from the 2016 Rights of Spring Festival, that features some wonderful new keyboard links from guest player Dave Bainbridge.

For all intents and purposes, this album is really a live rendering of the Hero and Heroine remake from 2011 called Hero and Heroine In Ascencia. What really drives this concert is that Dave Cousins is in fantastic voice and knows it as he excitedly pushes his voice beyond on the limit once or twice, which is audible on this album's fine sounding 5.1 ch DVD. It's wisely edited out for the CD master as there's no visuals of an excited Cousins to gloss over the two flubs. No problem, as this is Cousins finest vocals as of late and the band, especially Bainbridge and super drum Tony Fernandez, are on fire. Dave Lambert is also is fine voice and is note perfect in his brilliant guitar playing.

The sound mix and mastering of the CD by bassist Chas Cronk and is very dynamic and is full of presence. Indeed, its very big and detailed sound is very reminiscent of the recording work done by producer Tom Allom on the original Hero And Heroine album. Imitation, it seems, is still the highest form of flattery.

I know that Live In Gettyburg will only appeal to die hard fans, but there's not that much live Strawbs of such wonderful sound and video quality available. I have played it every other day since receiving it in the post two weeks ago, as It's a live CD&DVD that just grabs you. 4 Stars.

 Live At Nearfest by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2005
3.65 | 8 ratings

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Live At Nearfest
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars To come to full circle with the classic Hero And Heroine and Ghosts line up of the Strawbs, this 2004 headlining concert for NEARfest reunites the Strawbs with the great John Hawken. Returning with Hawken was his magical Mellotron with tapes borrowed from fellow Mellotron master and ex Moody Blues' Keyboardist Mike Pinder. Talk about prog royalty. And with the Strawbs focusing on four cuts from H&H, along with other assorted prog antiques and curios, a good time was had by all.

What really makes this particular concert stand out, aside from the band bringing their A game, was that Dave Cousins' voice was still effective at this stage and had very good range, albeit a tad deeper with just a touch of croakiness. This was to change quickly as the 2004 progressed up until the present day where Cousins rusty rasp has become too grating at times. So, take this rare gem for what it's worth. Cousins in good voice with inspired singing as well as inspired playing by Dave Lambert, Chas Cronk, Rod Coombes, and the already mentioned John Hawken who also dazzles on some mind blowing and very bass heavy (for a live recording) synth tones. Excellent recording, mixing, and song selection puts this live archive in the 4 star range.

 Ghosts by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.03 | 150 ratings

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Ghosts
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

5 stars A brief cacophony of harpsichord notes dissolves quickly into one of the signature melodies of the Strawbs' progressive knockout titled "Ghosts", and we're off to listen to the last great prog album from this seminal 70's prog act. Where singer and songwriter Dave Cousins took us all on an introspective journey with the band's previously released prog classic Hero And Heroine, Cousins returns to more topical subjects before giving us one last glimpse into his psyche. And what could be more introspective than a nightmare about a visitation from a weathered angel with "eye's a bloody red"? It's the magnificent music conjured up by the exact same musicians that gave us the Strawbs' last classic (a rare occurrence for this band) that gives us the searing impressions of Hell that Mr. Cousins' implores us never to see. Yes, the three part "Ghosts", apart from being so incredibly melodic and atmospheric, just moves the prog song goalposts a little farther and is one of the few title tracks that's actually worthy of the honor.

To back track a bit, Hero And Heroine was recorded by a very different line up from the group's successful UK hit album Bursting At The Seams, and was all the stronger for it. By strange Strawb's fortune, this line up remained intact long enough to record "Ghosts" before uber keyboardist John Hawken went off to reform a variant of his early UK band, Renaissance, which they titled Illusion, after the title of the early Renaissance band's second album.

Hawken tones down his space age synth sounds on Ghosts and stays with more orchestral sounds generated from his icy Mellotron, organ, pianos and harpsichords. Guitarist Dave Lambert takes on more lead work or counter melodies with with his always deft and atmospheric guitar, and the man can shift from a country hoedown to Who-like bombast while always fitting in perfectly with the music. Bassist Chas Cronk is more melodic this time around while drummer Rod Coombes comes close to sounding like an octopus with his busy fills and inventive rhythms.

But it's Cousins that really sells the album with superb pop rock on "Lemon Pie" and the quirky "Where Do You Go (When You Need A Hole To Crawl Into), the moving ballads "Remembering/ You And I (When We Were Young) and "Grace Darling", the album closer which features both a full choir and magnificent church organ. Sandwiched around these classic songs are more prog fests such as "Starshine/Angel Wine" and the breathtaking two part suite called "The Life Auction", which seems to summon more ghostly specters to visit you on this album.

Producer/engineer Tom Allom also returns from the previous outing to help give Ghosts another dynamic full sounding production, while cleverly dodging any attempts to do a Phil Spector and reduce the sound to a claustrophobic fog. The sound of Ghosts is as clear as a bell while being very much in your face. No small feat either. Another 5 star album that starts off with a bang and goes out with one as well.

 Hero And Heroine by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.15 | 277 ratings

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Hero And Heroine
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

5 stars In the quest to determine what separates atypical prog from the stereotypical prog sounds that have come to define the sub genre of symphonic prog, one has to look past the musical surface. Yes, Hero and Heroine contains a multi suite song complete with an opening Mellotron fest that would make former KC member Ian McDonald envious, as well as other symphonic touches courtesy of John Hawken's piano and synths. Cleaver and deft electric guitar is delivered from Dave Lambert while Chas Cronk adds his ever melodious bass lines and accents to the mix. Drummer Rod Coombes keeps the fore mentioned from becoming a sleepwalk with his solid rock drumming that's never flashy but always hits the spot both musically and metaphorically.

But there's something special that stands out about Hero And Heroine. It's not a concept album, but it feels like one with it's references to a Silver Sun, a Midnight Sun, and the feeling of "autumn coming on..." from the previously mentioned three song suite titled "Autumn". And that's not a trick of the mind.

Songwriter and vocalist Dave Cousins wrote a cycle of songs about his emotional exploits and explorations over a single day. And they, not surprisingly, are quite like ours. From the chilly doom of feeling the season's change and life with it, to pining over a lost love, to the excitement of a new sexual discovery, Dave Cousins' feelings are ours. We can relate. We love, we lose, we regret. Yet, we live on.

Is this then the benchmark for a prog masterpiece? Not if you talk in maths. But if you live easily with emotions and can relate to another's tale of what it encompasses for all of us to be the hero and heroine of our own lives, then the Strawbs' classic 1974 album Hero and Heroine reaches that benchmark and easily surpasses it. As disparaging as Dave Cousins would find this comparison, he is the Bob Dylan of prog rock, and Hero and Heroine contains his finest work. A wonderfully lush production helps to send the album even higher. I can say no more as the words would fail me. 5 stars.

 Bursting At The Seams by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.56 | 141 ratings

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Bursting At The Seams
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars The Strawbs took a temporary break from prog, or at least were not as prog focused, on Bursting At The Seams. Still the album has so many typical prog motifs that it almost doesn't matter. The album's first successful single in the UK "Lay Down" could be considered "Benedictus" in a hard rocking mode with Derrick "Blue" Weaver's Mellotron supplying string, organ and choir settings that mix perfectly with both Dave Cousins' electric rhythm guitar and new boy Dave Lambert's smoking leads. With lyrics based on the 23rd psalm and the only hit song to ever feature Mellotron choir, it is far from a typical "pop song" of it's day. Or any day.

But "Lay Down" is the original album's penultimate track, so we have to start at the beginning. Lead off track "Flying" is a dreamy Cousins composition with more of Weaver's Mellotron accompaniment and some good old fashioned banjo from Mr. Cousins, and is a perfect set up for the Hudson and Ford penned masterpiece "Lady Fuschia", which features gorgeous vocal harmonies from Richard Hudson and John Ford and tasteful lead guitar from Lambert. The Cousins' song "Stormy Down" is a mid tempo rocker that doesn't come off well and is one of the album's three weak links. Fortunately, it is followed by the Strawbs' first true prog epic "The River/Down By The Sea" which is truly full blown symphonic prog utilizing real orchestral backing to supplement Weaver's and Lambert's stunning multi tracked piano and guitar riffing on the song's coda, again climaxing with more Mellotron choir from Weaver. The two songs were originally split up and inverted on the original vinyl releases due to the needle jumping if "Down By The Sea" was the album's last track. Subsequent CD reissues have remedied this problem and we can now hear both songs in the proper order in all of their glory.

The sing along hit "Part Of The Union" originally started off side two of the album much like George Harrison's "With In You, Without You" started off side two of Sgt. Pepper's. A weak song that really fit nowhere on the album, so the better to get it done and over with. The mournful "Tears" segues beautifully into the faux Flamenco tinged acoustic and electric guitar based instrumental "Pavan" via Weaver's baroque harpsichord link. Lambert's beautiful rock ballad "The Winter And The Summer" follows before the original album closes with the infectious "Lay Down" and then a throwaway piece featuring what sounds like preschoolers murdering a song that Cousins intended to be a cute album closer titled "Thank You". It's the most embarrassing song I've ever heard recorded by the Strawbs, but with so many wonderful songs on the album, it does little to tarnish it.

The Strawbs would still not produce a 5 star masterpiece of symphonic prog until their following album Hero And Heroine, but Bursting At The Seams is a satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable listen until then.

 Grave New World by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.15 | 284 ratings

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Grave New World
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars With Grave New World, the Strawbs stepped forever out of folk prog and became a full blown symphonic prog group with the inclusion of new keyboardist Blue Weaver's icy Mellotron. "Benedictus", perhaps the album's finest song, seems to take the more pastoral workings of "Glimpse of Heaven" from Tales from The Witchwood and supercharges the ethereal visions of Heaven that Cousins imagined both literally and musically with a mind blowing choir for the song's chorus, and an electric lead played by Cousins with an electric dulcimer that was played through a fuzz box! Weaver used string, flute and organ settings on his Mellotron to supplement his actual organ and cascading piano. It's an incredible opening to this or any album and the group would only come close to a song as good with the equally arresting title track.

Songs immediately following such "Queen of Dreams", which at first features psychedelic backwards guitar, Mellotron flutes, muted drums with it's stop and go rhythm breaks, is quite good as is bassist John Ford's Jethro Tull like "Heavy Disguise", which Ford performed solo on acoustic guitar apart from catchy backing from a brass section.

"New World", the album's ersatz title track, is a monster with Weaver supplying just brass and string Mellotron chords and melodies over the six and twelve six strum of Cousins' and Tony Hooper's acoustic guitars. Cousins released his most vitriolic vocal delivery ever as he condemned the violence in Northern Ireland so prevalent at that time in the UK's history. Ford and drummer Richard Hudson seem to go the extra mile on this song and the result is an absolute Strawbs' classic.

After that remarkable aural assault, the following songs seem less impressive but show off the group's strong points with the pleasantly acoustic "The Flower and the Young Man" and heavily progressive "Tomorrow". "Ah Me, Ah My" is quirky with it's British dance hall music accompaniment. It's only a minute and half long, and seems to clean the palette for the searching "Is It Today Lord?' which features Hudson on some wonderful sitar, and the album's closer "Journey's End", which features some philosophical musings from Cousins accompanied only by Weaver's moving piano. The two bonus tracks add nothing to the album and are forgettable.

All in all, Grave New World is an impressive prog album, but slows down a bit too much towards the end to warrant more than 4 stars (3.8 rounded up). But fear not friends. The Strawbs would offer some 5 star prog masterpieces in just a few short years to come.

 Heartbreak Hill [Aka: Starting Over] by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.72 | 31 ratings

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Heartbreak Hill [Aka: Starting Over]
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Much better than their other late-70s albums

This album is not well known, because the record company refused to release it when they recorded it (or rather more complexly, their management refused to allow them to release it to the record company and to continue managing them, which led to a situation in which they could not access the rights to their own recording, and were forced dropped by the record company). It was only finally released in the late 1990s on a limited release, but that version has poor-quality sound. Only recently has this great record finally received a proper release with the tracks remastered. The result is that the sound quality is (finally) very good. I think either a number of other reviewers heard a poor-sound-quality version of this, or they only listened to it once, or something. That is all I can think of to explain the poor ratings it has received, because this album is really very good. It is their best of the late 1970s, the best since Ghosts, and indeed, I think better than anything they have released since. Due to declining sales, the Strawbs were being pressured by their management and record company to make AOR hits, and on albums like Deep Cuts, Burning for You, and Deadlines, they complied. However, on this record they did NOT comply, instead handing over (in 1978) an album with long progressive-rock classics and very non-radio friendly emotional folk-rock tunes. You can hear the difference immediately if you compare those previous three albums (such as Deadlines) with this one. Those are polished, muted, tailored for getting on radio. This album is raw, with longer songs. Dave Cousins has said that this was a very difficult time for him, and did not fight to reclaim rights to his recordings as he wanted to forget this time in his life and move on. The songs make clear it was a painful relationship dissolution that animated these tunes. While not great for him, the songs definitely benefit. He sings like he means it. The songs and guitar solos are harder-edged, uncompromising. Some of these songs, because then-still un-released, were re-recorded for the album 'Don't Say Goodbye' ten yearslater. Some reviewers have suggested that those versions are better than the ones here on Heartbreak Hill. I completely disagree. By the time of Don't Say Goodbye (DSG) the sting had clearly worn off, and the songs lack the emotional vitality of these original versions. Furthermore, DSG is tame, with 80's production values and synthesizers that drown out the guitars. This is not the case here on Heartbreak Hill. This is probably their heaviest, rawest album, in their entire catalogue. Totally un-commercial. It is vital, an authentic statement. The best track, and one of the Strawbs' best-ever songs (and again, I have everything they did and have been a fan for 20+ years) is the title track "Heartbreak Hill". For PA readers, this is also one of their most progressive songs, and will appeal to those who otherwise don't listen to folk (or progressive folk), as it is nothing like folk. The second-best song is the 10-minute long "Starting Over", another great progressive rock piece. Close to these in quality is the hard-driving "Something for Nothing", again nothing like folk. This version is WAY better than the version re-recorded on DSG - you really feel it - as is the version of "Let it Rain" - here this sounds poignant and vital, while the DSG version sounds like AOR. Those four songs make up 30 minutes of this 40 minute album, bringing it up to 4 stars. The remaining shorter tracks are all decent, not top-notch but better than the filler on Deadlines (I think half of Deadlines is filler) and better than most of the songs on Burning for You. If you are not a Strawbs fan yet, then obviously check out the early 70s albums first. If you like those, and like Dave Cousins voice and song-writing, then of their late 70s albums this is the one I would turn to first. It is not perfect, but still very good. I give it 8.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale. Make sure to get the re-mastered version with the better sound quality.

 Ringing Down The Years by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.68 | 20 ratings

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Ringing Down The Years
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

1 stars Best Avoided.

I am a huge Strawbs fan (indeed, saw them live just a few months ago - they are still great!), and have virtually everything they ever did (even the five-CD 'Taste of Strawbs'). I will start my reviews of their albums with their two least-known. This one was originally only released in Canada, and only on cassette, in the late 1980s. As a huge fan, I still bought it, and tried to like it. VERY disappointing. In general, this album has the weakest compositions of any Strawbs album. This is not to say there are no good songs here, but in every case there are better versions on later albums. The big problem here is the production and sonic quality, which is *terrible*. It is the classic 80s over-production gone to extremes. The whole album is saturated with now out-dated synths, an awful drum sound, too much reverb, and often difficult to hear the singing. While other bands and even the Strawbs have examples of this issue, here it is extreme and very detrimental. Quite literally, NONE of the tracks on this album are listenable as they are. You need to hear the re-recordings the versions of the few strong ones on this album. Of these, the title track (written in memory of Sandy Denny) is probably the best - a great and poignant song - but ONLY on later albums (my favourite version is the one on Dave Cousins' solo album 'Secret Paths'). "Forever Ocean Blue" is wonderful, but again only on later albums (for that one, my favourite is the version on the Cousins and Wakeman duet album 'Hummingbird'). Here, it sounds like the worst AOR easy-listening schmaltz. Same for "Stone Cold is a Woman's Heart" (a MUCH better version is on Cousins/Wakeman 'Hummingbird'). The best track on this album is the opener "Might as Well be on Mars", which actually kindof reflects where the Strawbs were at during this period. This was originally a big hit in Canada by a band called the Pukka Orchestra. Why the Strawbs released their own version of that song only in Canada then is a mystery. I could see the Strawbs thinking the song was so good they might want people in the UK or elsewhere to hear it, but it was not going to get attention in Canada where everyone already knew and loved the original. This album is so bad, I have to give it 1 star. I love the Strawbs, but this album should never have been made, at least not in the form it took. I give it 0.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale. If you are interested in the songs on this album, get Dave Cousins' solo albums and the Cousins/Wakeman duet - they contain much better versions.

 Full Bloom, Acoustic Strawbs Live by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2004
2.35 | 3 ratings

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Full Bloom, Acoustic Strawbs Live
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Good Acoustic Set.

Interesting story to this one. The promoter in Kitchener, Ontario (a small city close to where I live), who owns a local store, booked a live show for acoustic Strawbs, but couldn't find a venue. So, he cleared out his shop and set up the gig in the store! And the audience was small and (according to the liner notes) not well versed in the Strawbs, and so sat quietly and politely all night. One result is a very clean sounding recording without much of the natural reverb added by a hall, nor as much of the kind of audience noise that usually accompanies a live gig. This album has Brian Willoughby and Dave Lambert rounded out the acoustic trio. The set is very good. They play classics like "Witchwood", "Ghosts", "The River", "Hero and Heroine" and "The Winter and the Summer" very well (among others). And special to this album, they play Brian Willoughby's song "Alice". For those who like the acoustic Strawbs, this is well worth getting. It is not "essential" though, given there are so many very good acoustic Strawbs albums out there. But this definitely deserves at least 3 PA stars. I give it 7.4 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is quite good for a "greatest hits" type live album (I have to rate live albums a bit differently that studio albums, at least the live albums of a "greatest hits" variety, as even if the songs are played really well, the live album needs to do something new and different to be considered "excellent", which is why I give this 7.4. However, the performances are all very good, much better than the more recent studio versions of the old albums, like 'Hero and Heroine in Absentia', which is not as good as this live album).

 Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios by STRAWBS album cover Live, 1970
3.72 | 67 ratings

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Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

4 stars A Keeper.

While the more progressive-oriented albums often get the most attention, the early Strawbs albums contain just as good (or better) music. This album features the live Queen E Hall gig that brought Rick Wakeman to media attention, and in short order, to joining yes. And of course he shines here (particularly on "Temperence of Mind", the song that won so much attention, but also his solo on the extended version of "Where is this Dream of Your Youth" from the first album. Both are excellent). But despite Wakeman's clear talents, it is the songs that shine brightest here. The opener, "Martin Luther King's Dream" is such a fantastic song. While one might think it dated, it still resonates today. "The Antique Suite" is amazing, as are "Fingertips" and "Song of a Sad Little Girl". These are three of the Strawbs strongest songs and stand the long test of time. The CD version also contains a live version of "The Vision of the Lady of the Lake", which is worth the price of this CD on its own. Don't let the title fool you. This is a collection of some of the finest Strawbs music. Its a definite keeper. I give it 8.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.

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