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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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From the WitchwoodFrom the Witchwood
Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$3.30
$3.66 (used)
Hero & HeroineHero & Heroine
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$5.13
$5.07 (used)
Grave New WorldGrave New World
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$3.30
$2.20 (used)
GhostsGhosts
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$3.30
$4.99 (used)
Bursting At the SeamsBursting At the Seams
A&M
Audio CD$24.99
$1.81 (used)
DragonflyDragonfly
Import
INgrooves Fontana/UMe Imports 2008
Audio CD$4.98
$3.63 (used)
Halcyon DaysHalcyon Days
Import
Universal I.S. 1997
Audio CD$3.87
$4.16 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
STRAWBS-LAY DOWN-7" SINGLE-A& M 1972-AMS 7035-EX USD $3.72 [0 bids]
#STRAWBS Part of the Union / Will you go 1973 A&M VINYL EX USD $1.87 [0 bids]
Nomadness Strawbs Audio CD USD $10.30 Buy It Now
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Strawbs / Painted Sky (Witchwood) - Strawbs - Audio CD USD $69.95 Buy It Now 1h 26m
Strawbs Burning For You Oyster Polydor LP 1604 USD $8.00 Buy It Now 4h 13m
All Our Own Work - The Complete Sessions Sandy Denny and The Strawbs Audio CD USD $17.13 Buy It Now 4h 21m
THE STRAWBS BURSTING AT THE SEAMS UK PRESS EX USD $24.99 [0 bids]
5h 39m
Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios by Strawbs. USD $10.19 Buy It Now 5h 49m
STRAWBS Burning For You LP 1977 Prog Folk Oyster Robert Kirby John Mealing USD $8.97 Buy It Now 6h 16m
STRAWBS 7" VINYL C/S HOLD ON TO ME (THE WINTER LONG) AMS 7117 1974 EX USD $7.41 Buy It Now 7h 53m
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STRAWBS - Ghosts LP - UK A&M 1974 VG/VG+ USD $6.23 Buy It Now 10h 27m
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Strawbs Hero And Heroine vinyl LP album record South African AMLS63607 A USD $36.06 Buy It Now 14h
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STRAWBS - NOMADNESS 1975 LP RICK WAKEMAN PROG FOLK USD $1.62 [0 bids]
14h 15m
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Deep Cuts Strawbs vinyl LP album record UK 2391234 OYSTER 1976 USD $17.38 Buy It Now 14h 19m
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THE STRAWBS - PART OF THE UNION AMS7047UK 1973 USD $1.23 [0 bids]
15h 22m
STRAWBS NOMADNESS 1976 UNIQUE LABEL EXYUGO LP USD $14.74 Buy It Now 15h 37m
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1975 A&M Records SP-4506 Strawbs "Ghosts" USD $9.00 Buy It Now 17h 37m
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18h 34m
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STRAWBS I ONly Want My Love To Grow In You 45 7" NM US OYSTER ROCK 1976 LISTEN USD $5.98 Buy It Now 20h 44m
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21h 11m
Strawbs 12" Vinyl Album ' Deep Cuts ' 1976 Polydor Oyster OY-1-1603 USD $3.72 [0 bids]
21h 27m
Hudson Ford LP Free Spirit Very Clean 1974 Psych Rock Orig! Strawbs USD $24.99 Buy It Now 21h 45m
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Vintage Album - STRAWBS - Bursting At The Seams - 1973 A&M Records USD $8.99 Buy It Now 1 day
The Best of Strawbs 2 LP A&M US Original Gatefold Dave Cousins USD $7.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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1 day
Altec A & M Audiophile Sampler LP 1979 Gatefold Strawbs Cooledge Terry McGhee USD $7.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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STRAWBS in concert CD BBC RADIO ONE 1 UK ORIGINAL  USD $8.68 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)

3.03 | 66 ratings
Strawbs
1969
3.06 | 76 ratings
Dragonfly
1970
4.02 | 199 ratings
From The Witchwood
1971
4.15 | 275 ratings
Grave New World
1972
3.55 | 136 ratings
Bursting At The Seams
1973
2.74 | 25 ratings
Sandy Denny And The Strawbs: All Our Own Work
1973
4.14 | 268 ratings
Hero And Heroine
1974
4.01 | 145 ratings
Ghosts
1975
2.51 | 63 ratings
Nomadness
1975
2.74 | 55 ratings
Deep Cuts
1976
2.54 | 46 ratings
Burning For You
1977
2.86 | 40 ratings
Deadlines
1978
2.98 | 26 ratings
Don't Say Goodbye
1987
2.81 | 19 ratings
Ringing Down The Years
1991
2.64 | 29 ratings
Heartbreak Hill [Aka: Starting Over]
1995
3.54 | 20 ratings
Acoustic Strawbs: Baroque & Roll
2001
2.77 | 26 ratings
Blue Angel
2003
3.10 | 25 ratings
Déjà Fou
2004
3.50 | 37 ratings
The Broken Hearted Bride
2008
3.27 | 30 ratings
Dancing To The Devil's Beat
2009
3.62 | 27 ratings
Hero & Heroine In Ascencia
2011
2.58 | 20 ratings
Prognostic
2014

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

3.71 | 64 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
2.05 | 2 ratings
Full Bloom, Acoustic Strawbs Live
2004
3.57 | 6 ratings
Live At Nearfest
2005
3.83 | 14 ratings
Painted Sky
2005
3.66 | 4 ratings
Recollection
2006
3.05 | 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
4.08 | 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)

2.44 | 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
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)

2.29 | 5 ratings
Strawberry Sampler number 1
1969

STRAWBS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Prognostic by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.58 | 20 ratings

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Prognostic
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

2 stars Well Mr. Cousins, you've got me scratching my head on this one. While I applaud the inclusion of the killer live prog tracks "Heartbreak Hill" and "Starting Over" from the Strawbs' 40th Anniversary Vo. 1CD (an absolute must have album for Strawbs' fans) as these tracks are even more vibrant than the original studio versions from the initially aborted Heartbreak Hill album from 1978, the rest of the material leaves me puzzled.

"Something For Nothing" from the original Heartbreak Hill studio masters in a good tune but not heavily prog and "Aphrodite's Eyes" from the 2008 album The Broken Hearted Bride is a laborious dirge. The inclusion of the Cousins and Conrad High Seas album track "Deep In The Darkest Night", despite Rick Wakeman's lovely piano, sounds very out of place due the song's synthesized bass and programed drums, and the album would have been better served with the Strawbs' own version from the Broken Hearted Bride.

The live version of "The River/Down By The Sea" and the remixed versions of weak songs like "Tomorrow" and the Hero And Heroine In Ascenia album coda "Lay A Little Light On Me/Hero's Theme/Round and Round Reprise" come off as little more than album filler. The lone exception being the inclusion of of Cousins' epic "Blue Angel" from 1972 solo album Two Weeks Last Summer. But that song's inclusion is not enough to help, unfortunately.

Prognostic was a great opportunity for the Strawbs to showcase their better latter day and authentically prog outings. For an example, the "Pro Patia Suite" from 2009's Dancing To The Devils' Beat along with the title track to the Broken Hearted Bride, would have made this compilation almost mandatory for Strawbs' fans. After all, they were the target audience for this album.

 From The Witchwood by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.02 | 199 ratings

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From The Witchwood
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

5 stars As classic prog has come to be signified by it's overuse of synths and mellotrons, of which the Strawbs themselves were to be soon to be guilty, From The Witchwood remains incredibly fresh, unique and wonderfully enigmatic. The second album to feature Rick Wakeman and his first studio outing finds the future synth and mellotron wizard sticking to his wonderful arsenal of piano, organ and celeste and absolutely making the most of his accompaniments and solo spots on virtually every song on this mostly acoustic guitar driven album. Ok, there is a bit of mellotron and Moog C1 (901) synthesizer on perhaps the album's best track titled "The Shepard's Song" but it's not overdone. Its still Wakeman's dramatic and elegant playing that elevates this song, as does Wakeman's solo on the manic track tiled "Sheep" which climaxes with superb crescendos and high piercing organ notes, as well as the equally manic time changing organ solo on the ultra pastoral hymn like track "A Glimpse Of Heaven."

Dave Cousins' song writing topics now includes everything from polemic, physical love, social critique and mysticism without ever coming off as preachy or pretentious. Cousins just sings, with his distinctive voice, way too convincingly. The now full on rhythm section of John Ford and Richard Hudson, on bass and drums respectively, are a bit of the band's secret weapon on From The Witchwood, as they are the propulsive engine of songs like "The Hangman and The Papist", then afore noted "Sheep" and "The Shepherd's Song", while not drawing attention to themselves, while also adding a grounded groove to the sublime song from which stellar album derives it's name, "Witchwood". Hudson and Ford add the first of their songwriting contributions to an Strawbs' album. While not as strong as Cousins' material, the songs "Thiry Days", "Flight" and "Canon Dale" totally fit the pastoral and unique tone of this album. Hudson even adds some wonderful sitar to several songs, especially on his own tune "Canon Dale" which he keeps tasteful and far from sounding like the psychedelic musical motifs that were so rampant at the dawn of this album's decade.

For better or worse, the Strawbs would never again sound so individualistic in their on again/off again career and that pushes this gem right into the 5 star category. From The Witchwood is simply a prog classic.

 Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios by STRAWBS album cover Live, 1970
3.71 | 64 ratings

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Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars There is something that reeks of an old dusty attic full of songs from this, Strawbs' third album released on the American A&M label, that strangely, like the Strawbs' eponymous debut and sophomore album titled Dragonfly, was not released quickly in the US and actually reissued a few years later when both the Strawbs and Rick Wakeman would become better known to the prog world.

I believe it's due to Dave Cousins' bucolic songwriting and the remarkable absence of Wakeman's signature mellotron and Moog synthesizers which brings a freshness and immediacy to these live performances of mostly new songs. Wakeman was also new to Strawbs' audiences and you can clearly hear the enthusiasm for his deft piano, organ and harpsichord playing. To say that Wakeman gave virtuoso performances is not hype, just the truth. His ability to engage his audiences without coming off as a stuffed shirt is much to his credit, and his later self deprecating manor is well into being carefully formed.

The rest of the Strawbs give solid backing with the percussion based rhythm section of John Ford on bass and Richard Hudson on congas and small hand percussion instruments, while rhythm guitarist Tony Hooper does well to back Cousins' occasional electric guitar intros and outros. Cousins' seems to no longer be trying to find his voice and is quite self assured from the opening song "Martin Luther King's Dream" to the bonus CD track of "The Vision Of The Lady Of The Lake", which should have been included on the original vinyl release as it's the epitome of prog folk.

4 stars for this treasure from the attic as Just A Collection Of Antiques and Curios possesses an ambiance that's rare to find in other folk rock works of it's time, and for some reason beyond my reckoning, plays well on a cold winter's night.

 Deep Cuts by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.74 | 55 ratings

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Deep Cuts
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars I own all the Strawbs albums from their debut up to Ghosts, except for Dragonfly (their first two albums are harder to find than their others, I was lucky to score an original LP of their debut). Ghosts is apparently their last great album, their followup Nomadness was the beginning of their decline. Obvious A&M was not happy with the lack of commercial successful, they were commercially on a decline after Bursting at the Seams, although, of course, Hero & Heroine and Ghosts were artistic successes. Strawbs moved on to Oyster, a Polydor subsidiary, a label which Rainbow recorded for, and released Deep Cuts. It's not entirely surprising they take on a more straightforward direction here, in fact, this pretty much sound like any given prog album of the late '70s responding to the changing musical landscape. What's really amazing is Mellotron is used on every song! A couple of them rather low key, others with quite a bit, so it's one of those rare albums where every cut has tron (along with Änglagård's Hybris and Viljans Öga, Cathedral's Stained Glass Stories, and the first two Greenslade albums). True, this album is less adventurous than their previous ones, but this out of the way: the last song, "So Close and Yet So Far Away" is quite dreadful. It's a truly awful soft rock ballad with lyrics that look like they came out of the Air Supply songbook. "The Soldier's Tale" and "Beside the Rio Grande" are clearly the best things on the album because they harken back to the band's glory days. "My Friend Peter" and "Charmer" are pretty enjoyable songs, while "(Wasting My Time) Thinking of You" is pretty untypical for the band, having a bit of a lounge feel to it. The rest of the album seems pretty give or take. It's a great thing that a copy of this album (as well as any of their other albums, except for their first two) are pretty easy to find and can be had for cheap, so I obviously didn't feel ripped off paying the small amount for an LP of this. It's basically an album for the fans, but while has some nice moments, and only one song I can't stand, it's not something I recommend the newcomer. Still pretty good, so three stars.
 Sandy Denny And The Strawbs: All Our Own Work by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.74 | 25 ratings

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Sandy Denny And The Strawbs: All Our Own Work
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars Tracing prog back to the egg usually has diminishing returns. An exception would be this nascent collaboration between Dave Cousins' songwriting and a young Sandy Denny convincingly owning this work shortly before her more complex collaborations with Fairport Convention's classic albums Unhalfbricking and Liege And Leif.

Recorded in Copenhagen in 1967 and not released in the UK until 1973, All Own Own Work is a folk/pop/rock album that can stand up on it's own if viewed separately from prog rock. Often compared to their closest sounding competition, The Momas and The Popas, Sandy Denny and The Strawbs were totally unique. Where The Momas and the Popas had more doo wop in their singing, Sandy and the Strawbs did their own take on the Beatles' three part harmonies and, surprisingly, their voices, including Dave Cousins (!), sound splendid together and work quite well. Where either Cousins or Tony Hooper could come off as overblown, Denny had the vocal strength needed to engulf the two and almost make a fourth voice. The sound is also totally acoustic with Denny, Cousins and Hooper playing 6 and 12 strings and Ron Chesterman playing double bass. A session drummer adds deft percussion and completes the mix.

But what's so engaging is that Denny could take Cousins' "feel sorry for me" lyrics and truly make them believable. Included in the 2010 remaster from Witchwood Records is a rough restructuring of the first Hallmark Record edition of this album, with the string accompaniment deleted from four the album's best tracks. This includes the remarkable first recording of Denny's classic lament and signature song "Who Knows Where The Time Goes?" Wow. Just Sandy and an acoustic guitar. And remastered form the original three track tapes to boot.

"On My Way", "Tell Me What You See In Me", "Nothing Else Will Do" and "You Believe In Me" stand up as great folk/pop that could have given The Momas and the Popas, as well as The Lovin' Spoonful, a run for their money if this album was released in the US during the Summer of Love. Unfortunately,or perhaps fortunately for prog fans, that never happened and both Denny and the Strawbs went their own progressive ways a few short years later.

Hooper does two generic "British Invasion" sounding songs "You Were Always On My Mind" and "Sweetling", while Cousins does two proto Strawbs songs in the social critique "Everyone Except for Sam Was A Hypocrite", "I've Been My Own Worst Friend", and an early ethereal version of "Two Weeks Last Summer" with Denny handling the solo lead vocal. (Offered on a later reissue from Hannibal Records and included here)

Cousins' Witchwood Label reissue, aside from sounding fantastic, includes all previously released song mixes from both the Hallmark and Hannibal LPs, as well as demos and outtakes.

I have wondered if Sandy Denny dying so young would have a biased effect on my reaction to this reissue. And I've concluded that it was a good record of it's kind without any sentimental attachments. Sandy Denny was truly a great artist and this wonderful sounding reissue is a great tribute to her.

 Of a Time by STRAWBS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2012
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Of a Time
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

— First review of this album —
2 stars Erroneously listed in PA under compilation/box sets, the 2012 Strawbs' album Of A Time is far from that. It is a reconstructed version of the Strawbs' proposed but never issued first album. "Of a Confused Time" would be a more suitable title. That's if you're aware of the back story behind the Strawbs' 1969 debut album and their previous incarnation with the incredible Sandy Denny, as Sandy and the Strawbs, just one and half years earlier.

The belatedly released Sandy and The Strawbs album from 1973 (originally recorded in 1967), titled All Our Own Work, helps to answer a lot of questions including how the Strawbs, minus Sandy, ended up with a recording contract with A&M records. Well, that's because the A&M bosses heard the unreleased Sandy and The Strawbs material and it was that that they were expecting when they signed the band. Even after learning that Denny had left to join Fairport Convention, A&M advanced the remaining Strawbs $30,000 USD (about $230,000 dollars in modern terms) in which to produce their debut album. Without Denny's ability to blow an orchestra off a stage, the remaining Strawbs, Dave Cousins, Tony Hooper and Ron Chesterman, proceeded to do just the opposite of that. Orchestrate the songs with all kinds of classical instruments from strings to flugelhorns. Not only was this material overproduced, but the inspiration for the orchestrations from the Beatles' milestone album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club had quickly become passé in 1969, along with the Indian sitar, tamboura and tabla instrumentation found on George Harrison's mussings on songs like Within You and Without You.

But the Strawbs, along with arranger Tony Visconti, plowed full speed ahead and turned much of the Sandy and the Strawbs material into 3rd rate Sgt. Pepper's knockoffs featuring orchestral accompaniment, mystical Indian instrumentation, with even music hall pastiche thrown in and further muddling matters. The result was that A&M told the Strawbs to keep the more organic folk rock tracks such as The Man Who Called Himself Jesus and Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth?, and to rerecord the others without the bombast. Or to come up with other songs. And that's what ended up the Strawbs 1969 eponymous debut.

Of A Time was the original album reconstructed by Dave Cousins in an effort to show that the Strawbs had it right to begin with. With farcical overblown songs like Sweetling and Oh Me, Oh My, as just two examples, I can't see Cousins' logic in this argument. Cousins' remarks in the liner notes also states his dissatisfaction with Gus Dudgeun's overproduction of the eponymous debut! Whatever Dave. It seems like a case of comparing oranges to tangerines. In fact, the addition of Oh, How She Changed and The Battle, on the eponymous debut, atleast resulted in a decent album worthy of 3 stars, and was a inkling of the band's artistic directions to come.

So, 2 stars for Dave Cousins' wasted efforts on recreating Of A Time. Sometimes it's better to just let sleeping dogs lie. A shame really as the sound quality is quite wonderful as the album was remastered from the original session master tapes.

 Dragonfly by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.06 | 76 ratings

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Dragonfly
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars [My 900th review.] The second album by the STRAWBS offers pastoral, elegant folk rock with charmingly personal, in a way "worn-out" sound. It was produced by Tony Visconti (before his fame as a top producer), who had made some arrangements for the band. He favoured for more stripped down approach in the studio and encouraged Dave Cousins to compose in a classical style to fully utilize the cello playing of Claire Deniz, a full member who sadly departed before the album even came out. That noble instrument is central right from the beginning, on the intimately calm songs such as 'The Weary Song' and 'Dragonfly'. The latter features Visconti on recorder. One could compare the rurally folky sound to bands like FOREST or INCREDIBLE STRING BAND.

The beautifully melancholic 'I Turned My Face into the Wind' was familiar to me from the 2CD compilation Halcyon Days. 'Josephine, For Better or Worse' continues the general calmness of the album, and the cello really sounds nice. 'Another Day' has a happier, almost sing-along kind of spirit, and one could think it dates from the 60's folk era. Acoustic guitar and cello blend harmonically on the next pretty little track. 'Young Again' gives vocal duties to guitarist Tony Hooper and has some recorder but remains unremarkable as a song. Isn't there any edge coming on this album, one may wonder at this point. Is it just lame prettiness?

The prog appeal of this album would be radically smaller without the nearly 11-minute epic 'The Vision of the Lady in the Lake'. First and foremost it is "epic" in the folklore meaning of the word, ie. the lyrics are long and story-like, but the listener's patience is rewarded. On the fifth minute the rock drums enter and the whole performance suddenly has unexpected electricity and energy. Cousins shows his blooming ability to load his vocals with passion (comparable to the likes of Fish and Peter Gabriel). On keyboards: Rick Wakeman, before his virtuoso stardom. Well, the key parts could have been more 'Wakemanesue' in this intensive composition.

Delicate, acoustic miniature 'Close Your Eyes' ends the album. My cd (2008) contains four bonus tracks. The cheerful 'We'll Meet Again Sometime' (from 1969) has vitality that is quite absent on Dragonfly album. 'Forever' is a very nice single A-sider with orchestral arrangement and vocal harmonies, reminding of the late 60's Moody Blues. And finally BBC / John Peel radio recordings dating from September 1969, 'Another Day' and 'We'll Meet Again Sometime'.

Three stars without any doubt for the pastoral charm, but remember, this album is still very far from the progressive grandness that Strawbs were gradually heading at.

 From The Witchwood by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.02 | 199 ratings

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From The Witchwood
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After delicate, feminine and primarily acoustic Dragonfly, Strawbs pushed the boundaries of their style further. They recruited Rick Wakeman as a full-time keyboardist. Although he did appear on the band's previous release, he was listed as a guest musician and his parts rather served a purpose of a musical seasoning. In addition, two new members joined the band, namely Richard Hudson on drums and a sitar and John Ford on bass guitar.

Strawbs' musical extract on From The Witchwood consists of a suprsisingly wide plethora of influences. Building on Brtiain's folk music traditions, Strawbs incorporate elements of Irish folk music, Scottish plainsongs and even some ambitious Indian raga bits. Some of the pieces have a heavier folk rock feeling to them. The band makes fantatstic use of traditional English instruments such as a banjo, a dulcimer and a recorder. All of this is supported by Rick Wakeman's pastoral and liturgical organ sensibilities. However, it doesn't end there with his keyboards. Wakeman introduces (at that time still fairly unknown) a Moog synthesizer, a harpsichord and a celesta. All of this provides a great musical variety, which I often fail to find in folk rock. Lyrically, this work is also top-notch. The lyrics are very moody, many of which bring old shanties and traditional themes to mind. From The Witchwood consists of ten songs plus one bonus track, all fairly short, kept under five minutes. I find "Thirty Days", "The Hangman And The Papist" and "Sheep" to be three pieces, which are the most representative of the album, which express the album's eclecticism in a nutshell.

All in all, I consider this to be a very accomplished and revolutionary release, which marks the beggining of Strawbs' "progressive" folk era. A very unique and one-of-a-kind album and Strawbs' best work in my opinion. Highly recommended. Four stars!

 Grave New World by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.15 | 275 ratings

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Grave New World
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Thierry

4 stars February, 2016. I'm back from UK. I was with my friend Tim Hunter recording our first album (Silver Hunter's debut). He told me that Strawbs were going to play in his hometown, Knaresborough (Yorkshire). I knew only two recent albums by this British folk outfit. And I read long time ago that Rick Wakeman played with them before joining Yes. Actually, the Strawbs are not very popular in France and I have to admit that the 'folk' label is not really a guarantee for a prog lover like me. But, guided by Tim, I bought some 70's productions by this band and... was completely seduced. This album for instance is a delicious blend of mellotron in the way of early King Crimson and the Moody Blues with some welcome Beatles' hints (the sitar and effects remind me of "Sgt's Pepper's") and David Cousin's vocals very close to Peter Gabriel's. Vintage symphonic fans will love that disc as I did. Highly recommended.
 Hero And Heroine by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.14 | 268 ratings

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Hero And Heroine
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars One of the most acclaimed Strawbs albums, Hero and Heroine has never been able to keep me engaged the way that some of the band's other albums do. It is a good album but without the highs and consistency of Ghosts or even Grave New World. Founder and heart and soul of the band, singer-songwriter Dave COUSINS, sounds to my ears like Ian Anderson doing Peter Gabriel while the music the band created in this period sounds like the prog folk music that JETHRO TULL never made but everyone wishes (or thinks) that they did. Cousin's similarity to the voice qualities of an Anderson-Gabriel melange are so remarkable that I hear it in virtually every song the band does. It's not a bad thing, it's just an eerie, noticeable thing. The album opens with 2:15 of some of the proggiest stuff the band ever did in the form of the KING CRIMSON "Epitaph"-like intro to "Autumn," but then retreats into mostly nice sounding folk rock. A very good album of great pop folk songs with the opener and it's followup, the anthemic "Sad Young Man," as its high points. I much prefer Grave New World and Ghosts.

Favorite songs: 1. "Autumn"(8:26) (10/10); 2. "Sad Young Man" (4:08) (10/10); the beautiful AMERICA-like 6. "Midnight Sun" (3:13) (10/10); the Peter GABRIEL-like 9. "Lay a Little Light on Me"(3:27) (9/10), and; the heavier, mostly instrumental outro, 10. "Hero's Theme" (2:27) (8/10).

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Easy Livin for the last updates

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