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STRAWBS

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Strawbs biography
Formed in London, UK in 1964 - Hiatus from 1980-1983 - Still active as of 2018

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...
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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)

3.13 | 89 ratings
Strawbs
1969
3.15 | 108 ratings
Dragonfly
1970
4.03 | 271 ratings
From The Witchwood
1971
4.16 | 363 ratings
Grave New World
1972
3.59 | 182 ratings
Bursting At The Seams
1973
2.79 | 39 ratings
Sandy Denny And The Strawbs: All Our Own Work
1973
4.15 | 371 ratings
Hero And Heroine
1974
4.03 | 197 ratings
Ghosts
1975
2.53 | 79 ratings
Nomadness
1975
2.77 | 73 ratings
Deep Cuts
1976
2.57 | 56 ratings
Burning For You
1977
2.89 | 54 ratings
Deadlines
1978
2.99 | 33 ratings
Don't Say Goodbye
1987
2.70 | 24 ratings
Ringing Down The Years
1991
2.74 | 37 ratings
Heartbreak Hill [Aka: Starting Over]
1995
3.64 | 26 ratings
Acoustic Strawbs: Baroque & Roll
2001
2.74 | 32 ratings
Blue Angel
2003
3.15 | 35 ratings
Dj Fou
2004
3.52 | 48 ratings
The Broken Hearted Bride
2008
3.30 | 40 ratings
Dancing To The Devil's Beat
2009
3.67 | 38 ratings
Hero & Heroine In Ascencia
2011
3.02 | 29 ratings
Prognostic
2014
4.12 | 57 ratings
The Ferryman's Curse
2017
3.77 | 25 ratings
Settlement
2021

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

3.75 | 81 ratings
Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios
1970
2.39 | 9 ratings
The Strawbs' Greatest Hits Live
1993
3.69 | 14 ratings
BBC in concert
1995
2.52 | 12 ratings
Concert Classics
1999
3.39 | 5 ratings
The Complete Strawbs (Chiswick '98 Live)
2000
2.79 | 5 ratings
Full Bloom, Acoustic Strawbs Live
2004
3.68 | 9 ratings
Live At Nearfest
2005
3.85 | 16 ratings
Painted Sky
2005
3.70 | 5 ratings
Recollection
2006
3.09 | 4 ratings
NY '75
2007
4.00 | 1 ratings
Laydown With The Strawbs
2008
4.92 | 3 ratings
40th Anniversary Celebration: Vol 1: Strawberry Fayre
2010
3.18 | 2 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
3.92 | 4 ratings
Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session
2010
5.00 | 1 ratings
Live In Gettysburg
2017

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

3.48 | 7 ratings
Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
1998
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Complete Strawbs - Live at Chiswick House
2002
4.03 | 11 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
3.00 | 1 ratings
Access All Areas
2015

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

2.44 | 7 ratings
Strawbs by Choice
1974
2.67 | 7 ratings
Early Strawbs
1974
3.86 | 9 ratings
Classic Strawbs
1977
3.94 | 10 ratings
The Best of Strawbs
1978
2.69 | 8 ratings
Preserved Uncanned
1990
3.52 | 18 ratings
A Choice Selection of Strawbs
1992
3.62 | 18 ratings
Halcyon Days (UK Release)
1997
4.31 | 13 ratings
Halcyon Days (US Release)
1998
3.00 | 1 ratings
30 Years in Rock, Classic Rock Legends
2001
3.00 | 6 ratings
The Collection
2002
4.41 | 4 ratings
Tears And Pavan (An Introduction To Strawbs)
2002
3.21 | 5 ratings
20th Century Masters - Millenium Collection
2003
4.72 | 12 ratings
A Taste of Strawbs
2006
4.08 | 7 ratings
Acoustic Gold
2011
2.25 | 3 ratings
Of a Time
2012
3.95 | 3 ratings
Witchwood: the Very Best of....
2014

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

3.00 | 1 ratings
Oh How She Changed
1968
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Man Who Called Himself Jesus
1968
2.30 | 9 ratings
Strawberry Sampler number 1
1969
0.00 | 0 ratings
Where Is This Dream of Your Youth
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Thirty Days
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Forever
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Heavy Disguise
1972
0.00 | 0 ratings
Keep the Devil Outside
1972
4.00 | 2 ratings
Lay Down/Backside
1972
4.00 | 1 ratings
New World
1972
3.00 | 1 ratings
Part of the Union
1973
0.00 | 0 ratings
Shine On Silver Sun
1973
3.00 | 1 ratings
Part of the Union/Will you go
1973
0.00 | 0 ratings
Hero and Heroine / Round and Round
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
Hold on to Me (the Winter Long)
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
Angel Wine
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
I Only Want My Love to Grow in You
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Joey and Me
1978
2.00 | 1 ratings
That's When the Crying Starts
1987
0.00 | 0 ratings
Acoustic Strawbs: Alice's Song
2002

STRAWBS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Bursting At The Seams by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.59 | 182 ratings

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Bursting At The Seams
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 437

"Bursting At The Seams" is the fifth studio album of Strawbs and was released in 1973. It's one of the most perfectly realized Strawbs albums, in spite of its obvious commercial appeal. We may say that "Bursting At The Seams" was the definite break album for the Strawbs because it marked a major musical transformation in the group. It's also the album where the founder member Tony Hooper left the band and was substituted by their new guitarist Dave Lambert.

So, the line up on the album is Dave Cousins (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars and banjo), Dave Lambert (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), Blue Weaver (organ, piano and Mellotron), John Ford (vocals and bass guitar) and Richard Hudson (vocals, drums and sitar).

"Bursting At The Seams" has ten tracks. The first track "Flying" written by Dave Cousins is a nice, melodic and well structured song with several contrasting sections. It has also good lyrics, nice vocal work, especially the harmonic choruses, and it has even an instrumental break featuring an interesting banjo and Mellotron combination. This is a delicate song and a great opener for the album. The second track "Lady Fuchsia" written by Richard Hudson and John Ford is a happy and lovely soft song sung by Richard Hudson and John Ford, featuring a beautiful sitar work and a fine guitar work. It's a melodic and well structured song, one of the songs on this album with a strongest folk approach. The third track "Stormy Down" written by Dave Cousins is a kind of a country rock soft song. It's a song with a mix of rock, folk and country and is performed in a style of a ballad. This is a nice and calm song, but represents one of the less interesting moments on the album. The fourth track "The River" written by Dave Cousins is a great song that makes an interesting combination with the next song "Down By The Sea". This is, basically, a folk song, played in a slow rhythm, which gradually develops into a lamenting, dramatic and melancholic track. It's a kind of an introduction to "Down By The Sea". The fifth track "Down By The Sea" written by Dave Cousins is one of the highlights on the album and is one of the best songs made by him. It's a powerful song, very symphonic and with a magnificent and triumphant choir. This is a song with plenty of variations and repetitions of the main theme, which develops in a crescendo, till a great and dramatic final. It's a brilliant and memorable song on the album. The sixth track "Part Of The Union" written by Richard Hudson and John Ford is the most different song on the album. It's one of the two songs released as a single. I agree with those who think this is a very well made and funny song, but that should only have been released as a single and never should be part of the album. Still, I enjoy this song too much, to be disappointed to its inclusion on the album. Lyrically, the song is very satirical and is about the power of the trade unions in the U.K. This is a controversial song that was misunderstood and poorly received by many union activists. The seventh track "Tears And Pavan" is divided into two parts, "Tears" written by Dave Cousins and "Pavan" written by Dave Cousins, Richard Hudson and John Ford. The song is with "Down By The Sea" one of the two best moments on the album. "Tears" is a sad song with some emotional parts and fantastic Mellotron lines. "Pavan" is a dance tune in the vein of the Greek or Spanish folksy dances, with a twin nice acoustic guitar works and a marvellous harpsichord performance. I like really the harpsichord sound on this song, which brings to us a certain medieval atmosphere. The eighth track "The Winter And The Summer" written by Dave Lambert is his first contribution to the band. This is a fine song. Dave Cousins even said once this is the best song Dave Lambert ever written. It's a nice guitar rock ballad, sung by Dave Lambert, with nice and intricate guitar melodies and with a delightful ending. The ninth track "Lay Down" written by Dave Cousins was the other song released as a single. It's a good and strong pure rock song, very enjoyable, well sung, with lots of Mellotron and a good guitar solo too. This is a song made in a more commercial vein to be a big hit. Sincerely, I think this is a real good track. The tenth track "Thank You" written by Dave Cousins and Blue Weaver" is a short and nice song with Dave Cousins singing along with a children's school choir. It's original and nice, but is at the same time an odd way to end the album.

Conclusion: Despite the departure of Rick Wakeman after "From The Witchood" and of Tony Hooper after "Grave New World", and of their substitution by Blue Weaver and Dave Lambert, respectively, "Bursting At The Seams" represents still the classic Strawbs' line up. However, this was the last album with their classic line up. John Ford and Richard Hudson would leave after the supporting live tour of "Bursting At The Seams". "Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious", "From The Witchwood", "Grave New World", "Bursting At The Seams", "Hero And Heroine" and "Ghosts" are usually considered the albums that belong to their golden era. Still, "Bursting At The Seams" is generally considered the less good. But, I think this is a bit unfair because this is a well balanced album with some great musical moments.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Settlement by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.77 | 25 ratings

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Settlement
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars Locked down and separated from each other by seas and continents, STRAWBS could have gone out as winners on the strength of their 21st century output, particularly "Ferryman's Curse" from 2017, which gained accolades across the prog, folk and prog folk realms. It certainly invited comparisons to the band's 1971-1975 commercial and artistic peak, and Chris Tsangarides production swan song made the most of DAVE COUSINS singular voice which, it must be admitted, has lost some range in its 75+ years. It wasn't perfect to be sure. The meandering keyboard style of the brilliant DAVE BAINBRIDGE didn't always "close the loop", which their prior keyboard players seemed to recognize as a pivotal strength of the group. The centerpiece title track spun a riveting tale as only Cousins can, but it was delivered as a monotonal dirge. Moreover, only one song was actually sung by someone other than Cousins, making it a less balanced deliverable than most of the back catalogue.

Why do I say all this? Because, while "Settlement" may not have a "Nails from the Hands of Christ" or a "When the Spirit Moves" or even a "Bats and Swallows", it has addressed each of these weaknesses and sounds more coherent than any geographically dispersed group of musicians has any right to be. The 39 minutes of the vinyl, streamable version sans bonus tracks are as consistent and artfully sequenced as any Strawbs album since "Ghosts", and I rarely want to listen to it only once. Yes, Cousins' strains to meet the unorthodox demands of the exquisite ballad "Strange Times"; he shouts disturbingly 4 times during the brilliantly grungy "Settlement" when maybe once or twice would have been enough - I mean he only screamed "May you Rot" once in "New World" which somehow made it all the more emphatic. Bainbridge's keys are much more succinct here, with echoes of former Strawb Blue Weaver, who produced this album from his home in Germany, in "Settlement", John Hawken in "Strange Times", and Rick Wakeman in "Quicksilver Days"; ex Strawb John Ford gifts us his ageless vocal on the most catchy number, the nonetheless substantive "Each Manner of Man", and Dave Lambert's "The Visit" mainlines the group's early folk sound not far removed from their brothers and sisters of that bygone scene, FAIRPORT CONVENTION and STEELEYE SPAN, in part thanks to Cousins' use of banjo and dulcimer. Even "Judgement Day", at first seeming monotonous, affixes a groove with its unusual meter and breezes through its nearly 7 minutes in a manner simultaneously Strawb like and like nothing they have ever done before. "We are Everyone" is both uplifting and creepy in the best ways, and the addition of erstwhile associate Cathryn Craig on both lead and backing vocals was a casting coup. The two accomplished instrumental numbers serve as codas for "The Visit" and "We Are Everyone" and are suitably rootsy and symphonic respectively.

That leaves the bonus tracks. I give some props to "Champion Jack" for its use of bouzouki and its mellotron rich coda, but unfortunately, emotional although it is, it arrives a little late. "Better Days" is certainly the weakest number, plying an unconvincing Bossa Nova style which, rather than highlighting the group's eclectic interests, comes off as parody. It's not even catchy. The finale, the first Strawbs track featuring Chas Cronk as lead vocalist, seems to be a favourite among those critics who don't have much time for Strawbs. His voice is fine but the song doesn't seem to start, proceed, or finish anywhere.

While this may not be their most prog oriented effort, Strawbs have always existed outside such labels, perhaps to their commercial detriment but definitely to their fans' delight. I can't imagine "Settlement" being turned down by any long term listener who appreciates all eras of the group.

 Settlement by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.77 | 25 ratings

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Settlement
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars By necessity, this will be a short review. Settlement, the Strawbs' new album, is very good not withstanding a few caveats. The album was recorded by the band members individually at their home studios and compiled by former member and album producer Blue Weaver, due to UK's endless Covid lockdown. Dave Cousin's songs reflect the dreariness and isolation of the lockdown both musicially and lyrically, with the other Strawbs adding just the right touch to fill out the songs' themes. The big difference between this album with other recent Strawbs' albums is the self-conscious desire of the band not to make another album that tries to emulate the glory days of past albums, as the Strawbs have been want to do with their last four studio albums. It's stand alone style still has all the familiar Strawbs musical motifs and, of course, Dave's recognizable voice which is quite good for his age. In fact, this album is the most acoustic guitar driven since the band recorded Dragonfly back in 1970. It's new found recording clarity, thanks to Weaver's mixing and mastering, suits this "new" style of sound most excellently.

That's not to say that the songs don't rock out at times because they most certainly do, especially on the title track once it shifts gears away from Dave's maniacally sounding acoustic strums and Dave Bainbridge's eerie mellotron like strings. In fact, Bainbridge seems to channel the style of all the past Strawbs keyboard alumni of Weaver, Rick Wakeman and John Hawken. Sometimes paying homage to all three in the course of one song. The other standout tracks are "Strange Times", "Judgment Day" and "Each Manner Of Man" (co written and well sung by ex member John Ford), as well as "The Visit", a folky Celtic tinged song (written and sung by guitarist Dave Lambert), before Cousins takes center stage again on the excellent "Quicksilver Days" and "We Are Everyone/Chorale".

If the CD version of the album ended there, it would be stupendous, but the three CD bonus tracks "Champion Jack", "Better Days" and "Liberty" are much lesser works and probably wouldn't be missed by most if they were never included. So, we have an almost great album from the venerable Strawbs, and 4 stars seems like an appropriate rating given the bonus tracks. However, what's good on this album is absolutely great.

 Settlement by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.77 | 25 ratings

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Settlement
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Heart of the Matter

4 stars This new album by Strawbs has been being celebrated short on arrival as a revival of their halcyon days, like shown in (let's say) Grave New World. There's a good measure of truth in such assertion, but not in the more obvious sense: the source from which came Benedictus, and The Flower And The Young Man, has delivered great materials this time, but not gems of THAT beauty.

The resurgence of their classic sound is more in the quality of the songwriting and in the band's musicianship to be found. A good taste of this you can have it in the opener, where, on a hard & symphonic setting, you get the unique vocals by Dave Cousins, a fantastic organ solo courtesy of Dave Bainbridge, and Dave Lambert providing spirited electric guitar. The style of the album is however diverse: there's also the calmer times, brought by the folk tunes that every Strawbs fan has the aquired right to expect, there's the more convoluted vocal arrangements, and there's also the occasional touch of classical complexity.

A nice and welcomed surprise. I think we have to seize this kind of offering while it's still coming.

From John Barlass' review on At The Barrier:

"Settlement is dedicated to the memory of Tony Hooper, a founder member of Strawbs who was with the band from their earliest days in 1964 until August 1972, and again between 1984 and 1993. Tony died in November 2020 at the age of 81."

 Classic Rock Legends (DVD) by STRAWBS album cover DVD/Video, 1998
3.48 | 7 ratings

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Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 412

"Classic Rock Legends" is a DVD of Strawbs and was released in 1998. This DVD represents one more entry of the famous Classic Rock Legends DVD's series among many other entries of many great classic prog bands of the 70's.

Central music's, "Bedrock" series so-called as it was designed for the late-night viewing, was intended to be a showcase for the best of the classic British rock music. Some of the shows contained on these series were previously released on CD and video formats, usually by the artists themselves or the respective record labels associated with them. Classic Rock Legends have gathered these recordings together for a major series covering a big range of bands.

The Strawbs' concert contained in this serie was previously released on VHS format and was titled "Greatest Hits Live". It was also released on CD format, which was also called "Greatest Hits Live". It was composed of a 1990 live gig and the live concert has excellent quality. The DVD menu allows you to play the live concert all the way through, to jump to any track and also includes a bonus feature "The Rock Vault", a series of samples from other DVD's of all these series.

All titles contained in these series feature cover art work by the legendary Roger Dean, which is very interesting and excellent. According to the booklet, this show is also available on DVD and VHS formats, PAL and NTSC video formats.

The line up on "Classic Rock Legends" is Dave Cousins (vocals and acoustic guitar), Tony Hooper (vocals and acoustic guitar), Brian Willoughby (lead electric guitar), Chris Parren (keyboards), Rod Demick (bass) and Richard Hudson (drums). One of the most interesting and rare things contained on this DVD is the presence of Tony Hooper and Richard Hudson. Tony Hooper was one of the three founder members of the band. Both, Tony Hooper and Richard Hudson participated on four of the best and classic studio albums of Strawbs, "Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious" from 1970, "From The Witchood" from 1971, "Grave New World" from 1972 and "Bursting At The Seams" from 1973.

"Classic Rock Legends" has nine tracks. "Cut Like A Diamond" was released on "Burning For You", "Something For Nothing" was released on "Don't Say Goodbye", "Ringing Down The Years" was released on "Ringing Down The Years", "The Hangman And The Papist", "Grace Darling", "The River/Down By The Sea", "Lay Down" and "Part Of The Union" were all released on "Bursting At The Seams" and "Hero & Heroine" was released on "Hero And Heroine". There aren't a lot of extras here except the performance, which is really great. The sound is very dirty, a typical TV broadcast with lots of hiss. However, it's easy to live with all the limitations and lack of extras because the performance is fantastic. We are given a graphic example of why this band and their music are greatly underrated, which is really a pity. Cousins is deep in his trances when he sings, living the lyrics, being them autobiographical or not. The songs are alive, with each band member doing their best to make ever song reach its full potential. The keyboards provide both a background wash for the atmosphere of the songs, and the orchestral furnishings. Parren looks nervous but his work is dynamic. Bass and drums are tight and rock based. Willoughby provides appropriate fireworks and cutting edges and Hooper is there to authenticate Strawbs vocal sound. Here is everything you'd expect from a full band gig of Strawbs.

About the tracks, "Cut Like A Diamond" is an excellent track, a very catchy harder rock song, one of the best tracks on "Burning For You". "Something For Nothing" and "Ringing Down The Years" aren't familiar to me. But both are two nice tracks too. The five tracks of "Bursting At The Seams" are all excellent. I always loved that album. But of all those five pieces, "The Hangman And The Papist" and "The River/Down By The Sea" stands out. Both are classics and these versions are great. "Hero & Heroine" is one of their best tracks and one of my favourites too. It closes the DVD nobly.

Conclusion: Strawbs was one of my first loves of the progressive rock music and I know them since the early 70's. Strawbs is also one of the bands that I bought more albums in those days. However and unfortunately, I never had the opportunity, the pleasure or the honour to see the band performing live. So, "Classic Rock Legends" was my first live experience of the group. I must confess that my expectations were not in vain. Despite be relatively short, it's very interesting. It's true that "Classic Rock Legends" isn't properly a document well representative of the group. Despite apparently it covers tracks from almost twenty years of their career, it isn't really true. In reality, it only covers tracks from five studio albums, of which not all are the most representative. Anyway and despite of that, I love this DVD. And if you're like me, and enjoy classic rock, you too will love this. The players you may not have all heard of, but they play great stuff. If you are a fan of Strawbs, you will enjoy it and should buy this DVD. You will not be disappointed, really.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Full Bloom, Acoustic Strawbs Live by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2004
2.79 | 5 ratings

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Full Bloom, Acoustic Strawbs Live
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars This live album finds the early Acoustic Strawbs trio of Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert and Brian Willoughby (Chas Cronk would replace Willoughby after this tour) flashing their wares at an audio shop in Canada that was captured with excellent, if slightly amateurish, sound quality (a slightly lopsided sound mix on occasion being the culprit) that was taken from the soundboard. What the band performs best are the songs taken from their all acoustic album "Baroque And Roll" like "Ghosts" and "Tears And Pavan". These songs showcase the trio's amazing ability to supplement all the melodies, counter melodies and electric guitar leads, naturally, found on the studio versions. The trio also does an amazing acoustic version of "Autumn" from the "Hero And Heroine" album, with Lambert and Willoughby doing a clinic on guitar interplay on that song's magnificent opening musical section. Cousins and Lambert cover the alternating lead and harmony vocals flawlessly and do the same on all of the songs.

Where the little band struggles is on a couple of the more heavily orchestrated songs like "Down By The Sea" and the title track to "Hero And Heroine", where no amount of loud manic strumming or deft playing can make up for the missing orchestra and mellotron/keyboard parts found on the original studio versions. Still, it's fascinating to hear them try.

For playing and singing their hearts out so marvelously, 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 seems quite deserving for these hard working veteran prog rockers caught on a great night with exceptional sound quality.

 From The Witchwood by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.03 | 271 ratings

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From The Witchwood
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Lieutenant_Lan

4 stars From The Witchwood by Strawbs is the fourth studio album by the English band Strawbs that came out in 1971. What drew me to was that Rick Wakeman from the band Yes played piano and keyboard on the album, and he of course puts on a stellar performance. In fact everyone in the band puts on a stellar performance. I particularly like the variety of instruments on the album. There is a banjo, recorder, dulcimer, and many other welcome additions. Some of the songs on the album reminded me of psychedelic era Beatles and that alone makes the album worth a listen in my eyes. The lyrics in this album really take you to another world while listening. And if it wasn't for a couple dull tracks on the album I would rate it a 5/5 but instead i'll settle for 4/5. Definitely a welcome addition in any prog collection.
 Classic Rock Legends (DVD) by STRAWBS album cover DVD/Video, 1998
3.48 | 7 ratings

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Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars After losing much of their pop audience with "Hero and Heroine" (1974) and the lion's share of their prog audience 2 albums later, Strawbs met a demise not atypical of other groups of that vintage, ceasing to exist in 1979. Though they reformed 4 years later and have been more or less a going concern since then, their work in the 1980s and 1990s was sporadic, and jerry-rigged for compatibility with leader Dave Cousins' full time and very successful career in radio. With a faithful following in Canada, they issued 2 albums there on Virgin, "Don't Say Goodbye" in 1987 and "Ringing Down the Years" in 1991. Both were padded with reworkings of previously written tunes, as Dave Cousins wrote very little new material during those years. So, when this video based on a television appearance was initially released in the early 1990s as "Greatest Hits Live", it was met enthusiastically, any live Strawbs being deemed far better than none at all.

Now that we have other videos available including at least one from their prog peak, "Classic Rock Legends" has been somewhat downgraded by the public. After all, this isn't really any of the "classic " lineups, even if Tony Hooper is back home. The keyboardist Chris Parren wouldn't make the top 5 of Strawbs keys men, and, though Hooper and Richard Hudson are both capable singers, Cousins has chosen to sing lead on all tracks. As to the material, it is heavily weighted on their "Bursting at the Seams" album, the one that yielded their only big hit singles in the UK, and completely eschews their best selling UK album "Grave New World" while barely glancing backwards from there.

Luckily, Brian Willoughby is a superb sensitive lead guitarist and Hooper does harmonize very well with Cousins. The group is playing to its strengths by not trying to rock out as later 1970s versions did, so there is an understated clarity in the production which allows modern versions of "Grace Darling", "The Hangman and the Papist" and "The River/Down by the Sea" to sparkle. The tribute to Sandy Denny, "Ringing Down the Years" is particularly stirring, and "Hero and Heroine" is a well chosen and even better played encore. Surprisingly, Cousins turns in an enthusiastic vocal performance of "Part of the Union" which, although their biggest hit, was written and originally sung by John Ford, who is not in this lineup.

When you consider all the obstacles faced by this group for most of their career, particularly at the time of this show, this is actually an admirable performance that is at worst, absolutely professional and, at best, timelessly triumphant. 3.5 stars rounded up.

 Strawbs Live In Tokyo '75 / Grave New World The Movie by STRAWBS album cover DVD/Video, 2003
4.03 | 11 ratings

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Strawbs Live In Tokyo '75 / Grave New World The Movie
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars I had set out to write a review that would do justice to this variegated video, but I was only halfway through when it began resembling a graduate thesis, so I perhaps subconsciously hit whatever key combination I tend to hit every so often that makes everything I typed irreversibly disappear and sends me to another page. Why do they make keys like that...never mind.

So instead you get the Coles Notes version. This release is made up of 5 distinct parts, 2 of which form the basis for a DVD, 2 of which had obviously been kicking around for while waiting for a release to which they could be added, and one of which was to promote a new (at the time) album.

Chronologically, the features are...

A Granada Television spot from 1970 that was one of the group's last appearances as a trio, except it wasn't a trio because soon to be group member Rick Wakeman was guesting on keys in his first ever TV credit. This was probably not long before the band pulled up its folk by the roots and dropped them in acid just to make extra sure. They perform "Till The Sun Comes Shining Through" from "Dragonfly" and do it well, other than I have to wonder if the late Tony Hooper was always this wooden. I mean, he had been on stage for years by then.

Grave New World the movie. This early music video featuring Strawbs breakthrough album is riddled with flaws, is laughably lo tech, and is a weird synthesis of prog rock earnestness and Godspell psalms. The footage during "New World" is more over the top than the song, which takes some doing, "Ah Me Ah My" soft shoes directly into the music hall years before QUEEN attempted it. The young lady miming the non human protagonist in "The Flower and the Young Man" is certainly flexible and as mesmerizing as that old lava lamp in your dentist's office, but I'm guessing that, unless the last 50 years have been uneventful, she hasn't included this performance on even the long form version of her resume for at least 49 years. But in spite of all these and many more "what?" moments, it captures the historical context of the time better than the album or even a live performance could do. The ensemble performances of "Benedictus and "Tomorrow" mesh well with the touching scenes and flashbacks in "On Growing Older", and "Journey's End".

Just before "Ghosts" was released, the A&M issued "Grace Darling" as a Christmas single in England and ventured to the lighthouse where the real heroine of that name lived. The video captures bracing footage of the trip by sea and I got a chill just watching it. Shame the song did not chart as well as the lighthouse.

In a modest way, Strawbs had conquered North America, particularly Canada, by 1975, but they made a trip to Japan to promote themselves and "Ghosts". The live performance was apparently the first to be simulcast to all the major Japanese islands. It's only 40 minutes and a few are ill-spent on the drum solo that introduced "Hero and Heroine", thankfully in a blistering version, but it captures the spirit of the band's stage act at the time, with a pleasing mix of ballads like "You and I", epics like "Down by the Sea", and rockers like "Just Love".

Having resided in the 1970-1975 time frame for its first 4 acts, the finale is a video shot in 2002 at Rick Wakeman's studio during the recording of his collaboration with Dave Cousins called "Hummingbird". The duo and mad fiddling guest Ric Sanders look to be having fun and the song "The Young Pretender" is a winner which apparently went back decades but had never appeared on a Strawbs related album until then.

This multifaceted DVD would be worth the acquisition simply because it includes the only concert footage from Strawbs during their peak period, but the Grave New World video just adds to the enticements, and the extras are all as valuable both historically and musically as the group itself.

 Acoustic Strawbs: Baroque & Roll by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.64 | 26 ratings

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Acoustic Strawbs: Baroque & Roll
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 390

"Acoustic Strawbs Baroque & Roll" is the fifteenth studio album of Strawbs and was released in 2001. "Acoustic Strawbs Baroque & Roll" is really an acoustic Strawbs' album. This is an album with a very interesting and curious story. All began by accident when Dave Cousins and Brian Willoughby, a British guitarist that worked with many musicians, were booked to perform as a duo in Twickenham in 2000. Unfortunately, Cousins damaged his wrist and Dave Lambert stepped in to cover him, while he was singing. The format was very successful and tours were arranged.

So, the line up on the album is Dave Cousins (lead and backing vocals, acoustic guitar, dulcimer and banjo), Dave Lambert (lead and backing vocals and acoustic guitar) and Brian Willoughby (acoustic guitar). The album had also the participation of Howard Gott and Ruth Gottlieb on violins, Sophi Sirotia on viola, Sarah Wilson on cello, Andy Waterworth on the double bass and Robert Kirby on the string arrangements.

"Acoustic Strawbs Baroque & Roll" has fourteen tracks. Of all those fourteen tracks, eleven of them were released on the several studio albums of the band, until then, while the other three tracks were solo songs of the band's members.

About the tracks previously released on the several Strawbs' studio albums we have: "The Flower And The Young Man" and "Benedictus" from "Grave New World", "Tears And Pavan", "The River" and "Down By The Sea" from "Bursting At The Seams", "Remembering", "You And I (When We Were Young)" and "Ghosts" from "Ghosts", "The Golden Salamander" from "Nomadness", "Evergreen" from "Don't Say Goodbye" and "There Will Come The Day" from "Blue Angel". About these tracks, Strawbs was able to perform excellent interpretations of the tunes from Strawbs' catalog. Occasionally, they're embroidered with string arrangements by Robert Kirby, famous for doing arrangements for Nick Drake, Strawbs and several other British folk-rockers. While this might lack the sense of fire and adventure in their best work, which is compreensive since we are talking about of an acoustic performance, the songs do lend themselves well to spare, unplugged settings, particularly due to their somber lyrics, bittersweet melodies, and weathered, longing vocals. Many albums that combine remakes of the old songs with a new format are grotesque failures, destroying what made vintage material special and inadvertently highlighting a deceleration of songwriting acumen by placing superior efforts from the past next to inadequate ones from the present. However, this is a very welcome exception to that syndrome, proving that it's perfectly possible to present an integrated vision of the old material with grace and dignity.

About the remaining three tracks, the solo songs of the band's members, "Not All The Flowers Grow" is a very old song written by Dave Cousins and is a very powerful and emotional song that only was sung twice in public before and which was performed live on a very few occasions. It was written about the Aberfan tragedy, which was a catastrophic disaster of a colliery spoil tip in the Welch village of Aberfan on 21 October 1966, killing 116 children and 28 adults. This is a song that clearly shows Cousins at his most emotional side. "Inside Your Hell Tonight" is a song written by Dave Lambert and where he does the vocals on his own composition. Lyrically, it's a song about how things are permanently left on our conscience so deeply scared that they can never possibly has been removed. The verses are about different things but it's mainly about our own conscience. Musically, it's probably a song that musically breaks up a little bit the general musical ambience of the album. "Alice's Song" is a song written by Brian Willoughby and Cathryn Craig and appeared for the first time on Brian's 1998 solo studio album "Black And White" and it was sung by Cathryn. It's about Brian's then seven year old niece, Alice who sadly suffers from problems of autism. It's a song with nice banjo work and a beautiful string musical arrangement. This is, in reality, a very beautiful and a very emotional song. It was also released by Strawbs as a single. The "Alice's Song" CD music contains a single disc with three songs, with "Alice's Song" as the A side and "The Golden Salamander" and a previous unreleased bonus track "On My Way" as the B side.

Conclusion: "Acoustic Strawbs Baroque & Roll" represents basically an acoustic revisit of Cousins and friends to some of the classic musical studio material from Strawbs catalogue, with some new material in the same mood. Many albums that combine remakes of old songs are great failures, destroying what made so special the superior musical efforts from their past. With "Acoustic Strawbs Baroque & Roll" isn't the case. I wish more bands would acoustically re-invent themselves if that is what it takes to highlight their strengths. And that is exactly what Strawbs have done on this excellent album. Songwriter Dave Cousins along with Brian Willoughby and the original band's member Dave Lambert have produced an album that shows a breath of fresh air and an improvement on my recently chart assaulted ears. It's really a testament to the worthiness of the underlying composition of Strawbs as a prog perennial with their folk roots.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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