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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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Live In GettysburgLive In Gettysburg
WITCHWOOD MEDIA 2017
Audio CD$13.29
$13.83 (used)
Hero & HeroineHero & Heroine
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$4.43
$7.80 (used)
From the WitchwoodFrom the Witchwood
Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$4.43
$8.99 (used)
Halcyon DaysHalcyon Days
Import
Universal I.S. 1997
Audio CD$7.03
$9.78 (used)
Grave New WorldGrave New World
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$4.43
$4.62 (used)
GhostsGhosts
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$4.43
$3.16 (used)
CollectionCollection
Import
SPECTRUM UK 2002
Audio CD$4.98
$4.23 (used)
Live at Nearfest 2004Live at Nearfest 2004
Import
WITCHWOOD MEDIA 2016
Audio CD$25.68
$24.39 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
STRAWBS I Only Want My Love To Grow In You 1976 POLYDOR OYSTER superb EX USD $2.93 [3 bids]
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STRAWBS FROM THE WITCHWOOD / MINT VINYL JAPAN GATEFOLD COVER 1971 USD $99.99 Buy It Now 3h 22m
Part Of The Union 7in AMS 7047 (Strawbs - 1973) (ID:14852) USD $5.74 Buy It Now 5h 30m
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From The Witchwood Strawbs Vinyl Record USD $24.21 Buy It Now 5h 49m
Hero and Heroine Strawbs Vinyl Record USD $22.93 Buy It Now 6h 3m
Deep Cuts Strawbs Vinyl Record USD $20.38 Buy It Now 6h 7m
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Deep Cuts The Strawbs Vinyl Record USD $13.99 Buy It Now 8h 9m
Bursting At The Seams The Strawbs Vinyl Record USD $20.38 Buy It Now 8h 10m
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STRAWBS usa 7" 45 I ONLY WANT MY LOVE TO GROW IN YOU USD $7.20 Buy It Now 11h 31m
STRAWBS "Hero And Heroine" 1974 LP A&M SP-3607 VG+/VG+ USD $4.99 [0 bids]
USD $6.99 Buy It Now
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The Strawbs - Strawbs (2008) CD (1969) Folk Rock Prog USD $10.21 Buy It Now 12h 41m
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THE STRAWBS - Strawbs - UK LP - A&M AMLS 936 USD $3.82 [1 bids]
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Sandy Denny & Strawbs ?- 'All Our Own Work' 12" vinyl album LP 1973 UK A1/B1 VG+ USD $4.11 [2 bids]
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The Best of Strawbs 2 LP A&M US Original Gatefold Dave Cousins USD $9.99 Buy It Now 12h 51m
Burning For You (Lyric Inner) by Strawbs USD $12.78 Buy It Now 12h 57m
STRAWBS Grave New World A&M RECORDS AMLH 68078 VINYL LP + BOOKLET FREE UK POST USD $38.32 Buy It Now 13h 8m
STRAWBS THE BEST OF STRAWBS 2 LP SET EXCELLENT VINYL RECORDS USD $6.00 [0 bids]
USD $11.00 Buy It Now
13h 18m
The Strawbs - Strawbs (CD 2008) USD $3.00 [1 bids]
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STRAWBS: Hero And Heroine-Round And Round-Germany 7" 74 A&M Records 13275AT PSL USD $38.98 Buy It Now 14h 20m
Strawbs - Deep Cuts LP 1976 Polydor prog folk rock USD $12.14 Buy It Now 14h 30m
DAVE COUSINS (of The Strawbs)-- Old School Songs -- 1980 Passport Records LP VG+ USD $5.98 Buy It Now 14h 36m
Altec A & M Audiophile Sampler LP 1979 Gatefold Strawbs Cooledge Terry McGhee USD $7.99 Buy It Now 15h 5m
70s ROCK LP - STRAWBS - OYSTER 1604 - "BURNING FOR YOU" USD $8.00 Buy It Now 15h 18m
Elton John Caravan Skid Row Strawbs McTell Curved Air Leo Russell 1971 Programme USD $76.65 Buy It Now 15h 20m
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Strawbs Korner Fahey Fureys Steve Young Digance Grappelli Muldaur 1983 Programme USD $35.12 Buy It Now 15h 52m
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STRAWBS in concert CD BBC RADIO ONE 1 UK ORIGINAL  USD $8.68 Buy It Now 16h 15m
STRAWBS GRAVE NEW WORLD RECORD LP VINYL 12" TRI-FOLD + BOOK USD $24.96 Buy It Now 16h 21m
Strawbs / Nomadness vinyl LP 1975 excellent vinyl Prog /Folk Rock USD $9.42 Buy It Now 17h 12m
Strawbs Ghosts 8 Track Tape SEALED USD $15.00 Buy It Now 18h 20m
STRAWBS Ghosts LP Vinyl VG+ Cover VG+ Lyric Sleeve AM 1975 SP 4506 USD $7.19 Buy It Now 18h 25m
Hudson-Ford - World's Collide (A&M) (ex-Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera, Strawbs)'75 USD $14.99 Buy It Now 18h 47m
SANDY DENNY AND THE STRAWBS All Our Own Work LP VINYL UK Hallmark 1973 12 Track USD $19.41 Buy It Now 18h 58m
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1978 - STRAWBS - Deadlines + UK Tour Dates - Press Advertisment - Poster Size USD $11.49 Buy It Now 1 day
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STRAWBS-RICK WAKEMAN-YES Just a..Antiques & Curios JAPAN 1st CD w/OBI D32Y-3524 USD $29.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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1 day
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Strawbs vg+ brown label with booklet GF LP Grave New World USD $9.75 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)

3.04 | 67 ratings
Strawbs
1969
3.12 | 78 ratings
Dragonfly
1970
4.02 | 202 ratings
From The Witchwood
1971
4.15 | 281 ratings
Grave New World
1972
3.56 | 139 ratings
Bursting At The Seams
1973
2.74 | 27 ratings
Sandy Denny And The Strawbs: All Our Own Work
1973
4.15 | 272 ratings
Hero And Heroine
1974
4.03 | 147 ratings
Ghosts
1975
2.51 | 63 ratings
Nomadness
1975
2.75 | 56 ratings
Deep Cuts
1976
2.54 | 46 ratings
Burning For You
1977
2.86 | 40 ratings
Deadlines
1978
2.99 | 26 ratings
Don't Say Goodbye
1987
2.68 | 19 ratings
Ringing Down The Years
1991
2.71 | 30 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 | 38 ratings
The Broken Hearted Bride
2008
3.26 | 30 ratings
Dancing To The Devil's Beat
2009
3.59 | 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)

3.71 | 66 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
2.09 | 3 ratings
Full Bloom, Acoustic Strawbs Live
2004
3.65 | 7 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

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
3.52 | 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)

2.29 | 5 ratings
Strawberry Sampler number 1
1969

STRAWBS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Live At Nearfest by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2005
3.65 | 7 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 | 147 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 | 272 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 | 139 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 | 281 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
2.71 | 30 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. 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 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 the record company as he wanted to forget this time in his life. The songs make clear it was a painful relationship dissolution. While not great for him at the time, it meant he was not willing to comply with the record company's AOR strategy, and the songs definitely benefit. He sings like he means it. The songs and guitar solos are harder-edged, uncompromising. Some of these songs, because still un-released, were re-recorded for the album 'Don't Say Goodbye' ten years later. 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 | 19 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.

 Dragonfly by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.12 | 78 ratings

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Dragonfly
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

5 stars Wonderful Music.

This is, to my mind, the best-ever Strawbs album. Of course, I also love GNW, Witchwood, H&H, and Ghosts (among others) but this one is the most special. I think the lower scores here on PA for this album reflect that this is mostly folk, with very little rock (let alone prog), and I think many might be tempted to listen to it only once for this reason. However, folk music in particular requires multiple listens before one can feel its merits. I have been listening to the Strawbs - one of my favourite bands - for over 20 years, and this one has slowly but steadily been rising to the top, beating out the others. It is the one that best stands the test of time. To my ears it is the most musical, and contains some of the most timeless pieces, in their entire collection. While their debut album is very much dated to the sound (and topics) of the mid-late 1960s (including the reaction of the critics - who now would want to ban "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus"?), 'Dragonfly' represents eternal truths. The songs are life-affirming and get at our deeper humanity. So many of the songs - "The Weary Song", "Young Again", "Turned My Face...", "Till the Sun...", these are all songs with which we can all today easily identify, they have lost none of their poignancy. The cello (the only album in which they had a full-time cello player), adds a lot of ambiance to the album, and weight to the songs. The long epic "Vision of the Lady in the Lake" speaks of our inability (as a species) to see an illusion for what it is (lie), particularly when that illusion is something we so want to believe in (and even when we know the truth deep down), and thus hints at our destiny to always repeat history. Dave Cousins voice is so perfectly suited to this tale. The title track, "Dragonfly" is a beautiful study in how utter simplicity sometimes produces the best, most timeless music - one of my very favourite songs (and in the top 3 of Strawbs songs for me). When I rate albums here on PA, I am not thinking of what one might appreciate on first listen, but instead what album one might want to put on after listening to it over many many years. Some albums sound great on first, second, or third listen, but then lose their interest after additional spins. Other albums grow on you slowly, and some of the these just keep getting better with every year. 'Dragonfly' is one of the latter. It is one of the albums I know I will still be listening to in another 20 years (and with every listen you and I will be young again!). I give it 9.5 out of 10 on my 10-point scale - in my top 30 albums of all time.

 Prognostic by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.59 | 21 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 is 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 to the song's synthesized bass and programed drums. The album would have been better served with the Strawbs' own version of "Deep In The Darkest Night" 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 | 202 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. This uniqueness and the inclusion of the stellar bonus track "Keep The Devil Outside" pushes this gem right into the 5 star category. From The Witchwood is simply a prog folk classic.

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

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