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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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Grave New WorldGrave New World
Extra tracks · 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$3.30
$2.45 (used)
Halcyon DaysHalcyon Days
Universal I.S. 1997
Audio CD$6.07
$4.16 (used)
From the WitchwoodFrom the Witchwood
Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$3.30
$1.84 (used)
Just a Collection of Antiques & CuriosJust a Collection of Antiques & Curios
Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$3.30
$10.97 (used)
Imports 2008
Audio CD$3.83
$7.00 (used)
Extra tracks · Import
UMe Imports 2009
Audio CD$5.00
$4.12 (used)
Deep CutsDeep Cuts
Witchwood 2006
Audio CD$9.94
$21.38 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
STRAWBS Deadlines LP Vinyl Record 1978 Prog Rock Arista AB4172 VG+ USD $9.97 Buy It Now
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Sandy Denny & The Strawbs - Sandy and the... - Sandy Denny & The Strawbs CD R0VG USD $26.58 Buy It Now 56m 42s
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The Strawbs - Part of the Union  7" single vinyl (1979) VG+  USD $3.70 [0 bids]
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Collection by The Strawbs *New CD* USD $4.84 Buy It Now 1h 40m
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Strawbs Hero And Heroine 1973 A & M Records Very Good Plus Condition USD $5.00 Buy It Now 2h 56m
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THE STRAWBS - Broken Hearted Bride The (2009) USD $2.46 [1 bids]
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Strawbs. Bursting At The Seams. Vinyl VG+, SP 4383. Songword Sleeve. USD $4.99 [0 bids]
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HEAR! Pysch Promo 45 STRAWBS Round and Round on A&M (Promo) USD $15.00 Buy It Now 9h 58m
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STRAWBS Deep Cuts RATCD-4219 CD JAPAN NEW USD $87.45 Buy It Now 10h 29m
STRAWBS "HERO & HEROINE" Vinyl-LP 1974 A&M-SP-3607 Rock 33RPM 12" TESTED NRM USA USD $16.95 Buy It Now 12h 31m
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12h 31m
NEW The Strawbs Concert classics (Audio CD) USD $6.75 Buy It Now 12h 57m
The Strawbs 2LP Promo with gatefold cover-THE BEST OF THE STRAWBS USD $14.00 [0 bids]
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STRAWBS Nomadness RARE 1975 A&M LP David Cousins-John Mealing-Rick Wakeman PROG USD $10.00 Buy It Now 14h 43m
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Strawbs - Grave New World LP 1972 A&M psych prog rock USD $18.00 Buy It Now 16h 36m
STRAWBS Deadlines USD $1.99 [0 bids]
STRAWBS Nomadness USD $1.99 [0 bids]
STRAWBS Burning for You USD $1.99 [0 bids]
STRAWBS Just a Collection of Antiques& JAPAN LP w/Obi+Insert AMP-4030 R.Wakeman USD $39.99 Buy It Now 19h 26m
Strawbs Part Of The Union 7" vinyl single record UK AMS7047 A&M 1973 USD $13.56 Buy It Now 21h 39m
From The Witchwood Strawbs UK vinyl LP album record AMLH64304 A&M 1971 USD $35.86 Buy It Now 22h 32m
Strawbs Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session UK CD album (CDLP) 5320507 USD $21.66 Buy It Now 22h 37m
Strawbs Live At The BBC Vol Two: In Concert 2 CD album (Double CD) UK 5320508 USD $21.66 Buy It Now 22h 37m
Strawbs Halcyon Days Very Best Of 2 CD album (Double CD) UK 540662-2 A USD $23.46 Buy It Now 22h 37m
(Sds)20/4/1974Pg11 Article & Picture, The Strawbs In Leicester USD $7.42 Buy It Now 23h 4m
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STRAWBS - HERO AND HEROINE - A&M RECORDS - SP 3607 - 1974 USD $2.00 [0 bids]
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23h 23m
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STRAWBS i only want my love to grow in you 7" VINYL RECORD 2066 705 USD $1.24 Buy It Now 1 day
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STRAWBS discography

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

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

3.03 | 66 ratings
3.06 | 76 ratings
4.01 | 199 ratings
From The Witchwood
4.15 | 274 ratings
Grave New World
3.54 | 135 ratings
Bursting At The Seams
2.74 | 25 ratings
Sandy Denny And The Strawbs: All Our Own Work
4.14 | 268 ratings
Hero And Heroine
4.01 | 145 ratings
2.51 | 63 ratings
2.74 | 55 ratings
Deep Cuts
2.54 | 46 ratings
Burning For You
2.86 | 40 ratings
2.98 | 26 ratings
Don't Say Goodbye
2.81 | 19 ratings
Ringing Down The Years
2.64 | 29 ratings
Heartbreak Hill [Aka: Starting Over]
3.53 | 19 ratings
Acoustic Strawbs: Baroque & Roll
2.77 | 26 ratings
Blue Angel
3.10 | 25 ratings
Déjà Fou
3.50 | 37 ratings
The Broken Hearted Bride
3.27 | 30 ratings
Dancing To The Devil's Beat
3.61 | 26 ratings
Hero & Heroine In Ascencia
2.69 | 20 ratings

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

3.70 | 64 ratings
Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios
2.29 | 9 ratings
The Strawbs' Greatest Hits Live
3.67 | 13 ratings
BBC in concert
2.45 | 9 ratings
Concert Classics
3.34 | 4 ratings
The Complete Strawbs (Chiswick '98 Live)
2.05 | 2 ratings
Full Bloom, Acoustic Strawbs Live
3.57 | 6 ratings
Live At Nearfest
3.83 | 14 ratings
Painted Sky
3.66 | 4 ratings
3.05 | 3 ratings
NY '75
4.00 | 2 ratings
40th Anniversary Celebration: Vol 1: Strawberry Fayre
3.00 | 1 ratings
40th Anniversary Celebration Vol. 2: Rick Wakeman and Dave Cousins
4.08 | 3 ratings
Live At The BBC Vol Two: In Concert
3.17 | 3 ratings
Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session

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

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

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

2.44 | 7 ratings
Strawbs by Choice
2.51 | 5 ratings
Early Strawbs
3.78 | 10 ratings
Classic Strawbs
3.78 | 13 ratings
The Best of Strawbs
2.66 | 8 ratings
Preserved Uncanned
3.49 | 18 ratings
A Choice Selection of Strawbs
3.63 | 16 ratings
Halcyon Days (UK Release)
3.97 | 13 ratings
Halcyon Days (US Release)
3.00 | 1 ratings
30 Years in Rock, Classic Rock Legends
2.81 | 6 ratings
The Collection
4.40 | 3 ratings
Tears And Pavan (An Introduction To Strawbs)
3.13 | 4 ratings
20th Century Masters - Millenium Collection
4.23 | 12 ratings
A Taste of Strawbs
4.13 | 6 ratings
Acoustic Gold
2.00 | 1 ratings
Of a Time
3.90 | 2 ratings
Witchwood: the Very Best of....

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

2.29 | 5 ratings
Strawberry Sampler number 1


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Deep Cuts by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1976
2.74 | 55 ratings

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

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

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

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
4.01 | 199 ratings

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 | 274 ratings

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

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).

 Ghosts by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.01 | 145 ratings

Strawbs Prog Folk

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

5 stars Often overlooked as outside of the "classic" period of Strawbs "masterpieces," this album is so well produced, the sound so good, and the song-writing so tight and mature I find it hard to not consider one of the finest achievements of Prog Folk. As a matter of fact, as highly touted and revered former Strawbs' keyboard contributor Rick Wakeman is, I prefer the work of John Hawken. I love ways in which he combines the harpsichord, organs, piano and Mellotron better than those of Maestro Wakeman.

1. "Ghosts" (8:31) From the opening weave of multiple guitars (some 12-stringed!) and harpsichord, the amazing vocal dynamics, awesome lyrics, and excellent keyboard layering into the jam-on adrenaline bursting "Night Light" middle section of the title song, this is a prog masterpiece. (10/10)

2. "Lemon Pie" (4:02) seems to follow the format of previous Strawbs albums in that a socially-significant pop- oriented anthemic tune is second on the album, following the opening "epic"--and "Lemon Pie" does not disappoint. It delivers with it all of the zest and vigor one would expect of Dave Cousins' best efforts--with some delightfully playful lyrics. (9/10)

3. "Starshine/Angel Wine" (5:14) opens with two minutes of nice folk rock before an almost-"Layla" electric guitar riff opens up the heavier, more dynamic second section. (8/10)

4. "Where Do You Go (When You Need a Hole to Crawl in)" (3:04) has a kind of CAT STEVENS "Peace Train/Another Saturday Night" calypso feel to it. Upbeat and bar-room appropriate. (7/10)

5. "The Life Auction" (6:52) opens with some cool piano effects which is gradually joined by a low PETER GABRIEL- like half-spoken poetic story telling before the song bursts into a full blown bombastic Very Trespass-era, "Knife" or "White Mountain"-like--complete with defiant affect and flange effects on the vocals and electric guitar "power chords." Very cool song! (10/10)

6. "Don't Try to Change Me" (4:29) takes the listener back to a pleasant, innocent time like the Flower Child 1960s--at least until the shock of the emphatic first chorus at the one minute mark. now wide awake, we travel through the rest of the song on the nice verses fully expecting and ready for the rather abrasive shout of the chorus repeats. (8/10)

7. "Remembering" (0:59) (10/10) is a beautiful little interlude of electronic keyboard and cymbal play that turns out to be the introduction to the next song, my favorite song of theirs,

8. "You and I (When We Were Young)" (3:59) is a Cousins-Hawken collaboration which is pure perfection to these ears and, lyrically, to my mind as well. Pop music doesn't get better than this. (10/10)

The album's finale, and a John Hawken song, 9. "Grace Darling" (3:57), is another gorgeous song founded on a rock combo with the lovely accompaniment of a full chorus throughout and, later, from an awesome church organ. (10/10)

Side 2 makes up my favorite single side of Strawbs songs and Side 1 is not too bad either. A masterpiece and, in my opinion, an exemplary representative of the best of what Prog Folk has to offer.

 Hero & Heroine In Ascencia by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.61 | 26 ratings

Hero & Heroine In Ascencia
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by ross warren

2 stars Sadly this recording adds nothing much to the far batter original. On the whole the instruments do benefit from the re-record, and sound a tad better, the mix was a rather disappointing one. However age has not been kind to Cousin's vocals. Whilst in the past his voice was gritty, yet strong, it now sounds far the worse for wear. The only time this version really makes my ears prick up is during Hero & Herione, which is even better than the original. I have spun this a few times, but frankly see it as a rather sad confirmation that the Strawbs are a spent force.

I can only offer it 2 stars, and suspect strongly that i will listen to it at most a couple more times.

 Live At The BBC Vol Two: In Concert by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2010
4.08 | 3 ratings

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

Review by SteveG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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