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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 | 87 ratings
Strawbs
1969
3.15 | 105 ratings
Dragonfly
1970
4.02 | 258 ratings
From The Witchwood
1971
4.16 | 348 ratings
Grave New World
1972
3.57 | 173 ratings
Bursting At The Seams
1973
2.78 | 36 ratings
Sandy Denny And The Strawbs: All Our Own Work
1973
4.15 | 358 ratings
Hero And Heroine
1974
4.02 | 190 ratings
Ghosts
1975
2.52 | 76 ratings
Nomadness
1975
2.77 | 71 ratings
Deep Cuts
1976
2.58 | 54 ratings
Burning For You
1977
2.89 | 50 ratings
Deadlines
1978
3.01 | 32 ratings
Don't Say Goodbye
1987
2.71 | 23 ratings
Ringing Down The Years
1991
2.74 | 36 ratings
Heartbreak Hill [Aka: Starting Over]
1995
3.65 | 25 ratings
Acoustic Strawbs: Baroque & Roll
2001
2.75 | 32 ratings
Blue Angel
2003
3.15 | 34 ratings
Dj Fou
2004
3.51 | 47 ratings
The Broken Hearted Bride
2008
3.32 | 39 ratings
Dancing To The Devil's Beat
2009
3.66 | 36 ratings
Hero & Heroine In Ascencia
2011
2.89 | 25 ratings
Prognostic
2014
4.13 | 52 ratings
The Ferryman's Curse
2017

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

3.74 | 78 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 | 11 ratings
Concert Classics
1999
3.39 | 5 ratings
The Complete Strawbs (Chiswick '98 Live)
2000
2.44 | 4 ratings
Full Bloom, Acoustic Strawbs Live
2004
3.68 | 9 ratings
Live At Nearfest
2005
3.83 | 15 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)

3.02 | 6 ratings
Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
1998
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Complete Strawbs - Live at Chiswick House
2002
4.02 | 9 ratings
Strawbs Live In Tokyo '75 / Grave New World The Movie
2003
4.00 | 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 | 17 ratings
A Choice Selection of Strawbs
1992
3.61 | 17 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
2.00 | 1 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
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
2.00 | 1 ratings
That's When the Crying Starts
1987

STRAWBS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Acoustic Strawbs: Baroque & Roll by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.65 | 25 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*)

 Ghosts by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.02 | 190 ratings

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Ghosts
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review N 377

"Ghosts" is the eighth studio album of Strawbs and was released in 1975. It became to be an important mark in the band's career. Finally, this is their first studio album including the same line up of its predecessor seventh studio album, "Hero And Heroine", since their two first previous studio albums "Strawbs" and "Dragonfly". This was their last album while the band was in their upward curve of success. It was their last album that belongs to their golden era too.

So, the line up on the album is Dave Cousins (vocals, acoustic and electric guitar and recorder), Dave Lambert (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), John Hawken (piano, electric piano, harpsichord, Mellotron, Moog synthesizer, Hammond organ and pipe organ), Chas Cronk (backing vocals, bass guitar and acoustic guitar), Rod Coombes (backing vocals, drums, congas and percussion). The album has also the participation of Claire Deniz on cello, as a guest musician.

"Ghosts" has nine tracks. The first track is the title track "Ghosts" and is divided into three parts, "Sweet Dreams", "Night Light" and "Guardian Angel", all written by Dave Cousins. This is another great opener of Strawbs, in the wake of their best tradition, with which we were used to. It's similar in its musical structure to "Autumn", the opener of their previous studio album "Hero And Heroine", but much darker, reflecting its lyrics. It's a gorgeous melodic song with multiple musical instruments such as harpsichord, acoustic guitars and even church bells. This is, for me, the highest moment on the album and it's also one of the best pieces of music ever made by them. The second track "Lemon Pie" written by Dave Cousins is one of the two songs also released as a single. It's a very catchy song but very different from its previous. Here we can feel that the group moved to their most folk traditional roots. The song was written about his then girlfriend and future wife. The third track "Starshine/Angel Wine" written by Chas Cronk is also one of the highest moments on this great album and one of their most brilliant pieces of music. This is a very simple rock song, but very powerful, with a great riff, and that it's also at the same time technically brilliant. It's so simple and at the same time so good. The fourth track "Where Do You Go (When You Need A Hole To Crawl In)" written by Dave Cousins has a kind of a pop tune. It reminds me strongly the Cat Stevens' music. It's a nice song but I can't see anything special on it. Despite it's very well made and be nice to hear, it's far from being one of my favourite songs on the album. The fifth track "The Life Auction" is divided into two parts, "Impressions Of Southall From The Train" written by Dave Cousins and John Hawken and "The Auction" written by Dave Cousins and Dave Lambert. This is another superb song and represents the third highest musical moment on the album. It's a song with a very dark ambience, clearly marked by the low and very deep voice of Dave Cousins. This is a progressive song, very powerful, acidic and bombastic, especially due to the use of the Mellotron. The song is superiorly orchestrated and performed by all band's members. It's certainly one of the most powerful and one of the best pieces of music that the band has ever made. The sixth track "Don't Try To Change Me" written by Dave Lambert is a good, melodic, nice, enjoyable and a consistent song, very well arranged. It's the typical contribution song of Dave Lambert to the band to be on the charts. The seventh track "Remembering" written by John Hawken is the shortest song on the album, with less than one minute. It's a lovely song played beautifully by John Hawken on synthesizer and is an introduction to the next song "You And I (When We Were Young)". The eighth track "You And I (When We Were Young)" written by Dave Cousins is a soft, sad and dark ballad beautifully performed. It's a song with very nostalgic lyrics, reflecting in our younger days and that makes us want to live. The ninth track "Grace Darling" written by Dave Cousins is the epic ending of this album. It's a beautiful piece of music with fantastic keyboards performed on the chapel's pipe organ of the Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey, and with a beautiful and majestic choral accompaniment provided by the school choir too. This is one of the most beautiful and celestial ballads I heard in all my life and it's, without any doubt, the perfect way to end another great album of Strawbs.

Conclusion: "Ghosts" is, in my humble opinion, another great album of Strawbs, probably the last great studio album released by them. So, and unfortunately, this album represents a mark in their musical career because, from here until the end of the 70's when they split and until the end of the 80's, there was no place for the releasing of another great studio album by them. However, Strawbs on albums such as "Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious", "From The Witchwood", "Grave New World", "Bursting At The Seams", "Hero And Heroine" and "Ghosts" composed some of the most beautiful, brilliant and unforgettable pieces of music in the 70's, and because of that, they won a very special place of honour in the progressive music. So, Strawbs is one of the groups that wrote a brilliant page in the world of the progressive rock music. They won also a very special place into my heart as one of the classic prog bands I most love.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Hero And Heroine by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.15 | 358 ratings

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Hero And Heroine
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 373

'Hero And Heroine' is the seventh studio album of Strawbs and was released in 1974. It's another conceptual album. After the supporting live tour to their previous studio album 'Bursting At The Seams', an authentic earthquake hit the band. Blue Weaver, John Ford and Richard Hudson left Strawbs to form their own band. Only the founder member and leader of the group Dave Cousins and the newly joined member Dave Lambert stayed together to rebuild Strawbs.

So, the line up on this album is Dave Cousins (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), Dave Lambert (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), John Hawken (organ, piano, electric piano, mellotron and synthesizer), Chas Cronk (backing vocals, bass guitar and synthesizer) and Rod Coombes (backing vocals, drums and percussion). Of the three new members who joined the band, deserves special mention John Hawken, a classically trained piano player. He was the former keyboardist of the first incarnation of Renaissance and member of that band on their two first studio albums.

'Hero And Heroine' has ten tracks. The first track 'Autumn' is divided into three parts, 'Heroine's Theme' written by John Hawken, 'Deep Summer Sleep' and 'The Winter Long', both written by Dave Cousins. It's a great start and the great epic moment on the album. This is a must for all mellotron lovers like me. The song is very varied, with great moments and nice choruses in the end. This is a sublime song that represents the most beautiful moment on the entire album. It represents one of their finest moments, too. The final part 'The Winter Long' was released as a single under the title 'Hold On To Me (The Winter Long)'. The second track 'Sad Young Man' written by Rod Coombes is a very nice ballad. This is a song with some musical contrasts. It has good guitar, nice organ and great vocal work. This is a very pleasant song which offers to us fine musical arrangements. The third track 'Just Love' written by Dave Lambert is a rock song written in a more commercial vein. It's a typical rock love song that seems composed to be released as a single and to be played on the radio. Despite be a good song it seems somehow out of the place in the general context of the album. The fourth track 'Shine On Silver Sun' written by Dave Cousins was also a song released as a single. It was written intended to be a great big hit as like 'Part Of The Union' of 'Bursting At The Seams'. However, the single was a minor success. This is a typical and classic song from the band with excellent vocal harmonies, good mellotron work and a very catchy piano strong harmony. The fifth track is the title track 'Hero And Heroine'. It was written by Dave Cousins. This is the second best musical moment on the album and is also an epic song. It's a very strong song, very energetic, with great musical moments and a variety of instrumental choruses. This is a superb musical moment of the group with good lyrics and a notable vocal performance of Dave Cousins. It represents also one of their greatest musical moments. The sixth track 'Midnight Sun' written by Dave Cousins and Chas Cronk is joined to the title track. It's a short melodic folk ballad and represents one of the most beautiful musical moments on the album. This is performed mostly by acoustic guitar, percussion and mellotron flute. It's a very enjoyable musical moment to listen to. The seventh track 'Out In The Cold' written by Dave Cousins is another very interesting and good song. It has some good and intricate guitar work, good harmonica and nice drumming. This is a very enjoyable and emotional folk ballad that sounds a bit to a country song. The eighth track 'Round And Round' written by Dave Cousins is a very progressive song with a beautiful and brilliant keyboard work by John Hawken. It combines perfectly well some pop elements into their music with the classical symphonic based elements of the song. The ninth track 'Lay A Little Light On Me' written by Dave Cousins is another very catchy and good song. It's a song with lyrics with awesome power and depth. Musically, it's also a great song, very strong and powerful in the vein of the band's best musical moments. This is a true classic progressive musical moment. The tenth track 'Hero's Theme' written by Dave Lambert is almost an instrumental song with some vocal effects. It's really a beautiful, classic and brilliant progressive musical moment that closes the album in a magnificent and progressive way. It represents one of the best album closers, I've already heard.

Conclusion: Despite I prefer 'Grave New World', 'Hero And Heroine' is probably the Strawbs best musical work. What I find most impressive on this album is its musical cohesion and its musical coherence, which makes of it a perfect piece of music. It flows perfectly and gracefully from the start to finish. It hasn't really any weak track. I don't want to finish my review without mention the presence of John Hawken on the album. He's a brilliant keyboard player and his presence on the album is evident and represents a great addition to the line up of the band. In my humble opinion, 'Hero And Heroine' is an unknown and underrated musical work that deserves to be better known. In my humble opinion, 'Hero And Heroine' is one of the best guitar driven progressive rock albums of the 70's, a true classic album.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 That's When the Crying Starts by STRAWBS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1987
2.00 | 1 ratings

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That's When the Crying Starts
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
2 stars After the mediocre -- well, pretty weak when compared to the classic albums just a few years before -- album Deadlines (1978), the British folk prog band Strawbs had their longest period of inactivity during which the frontman Dave Cousins did some solo stuff to almost deaf ears. To cite All Music Guide: "That might have been the end of the group's history, if it hadn't been for an invitation to play the 1983 Cambridge Folk Festival. The Strawbs responded, in the guise of Cousins, Hooper, Hudson, Ford, Weaver, and Willoughby, and the response was so favorable that a tour was scheduled, which in turn led to their return to America in the mid-'80s. The group followed this up with two new studio albums released in Canada." The first of those two albums was Don't Say Goodbye (1987). It was somewhat disappointing if one was expecting them to sound like in their prime time, but as a pop album of the mid-80's, it isn't bad at all. This single has two songs from it.

'That's When the Crying Starts' is a ballad about a breakup in a relationship. Musically it's more or less in the same field to me as some ballads that e.g. Dire Straits or Paul McCartney did at the era: well produced and suitably emotional but not too sentimental. Actually it's easily likeable for a Strawbs listener, if nothing more.

'We Can Make It Together' is a pop rock song with a faster tempo and a heavily repeated chorus. But there are also some soloing, nice arrangement details and a C part (is that a correct term?) to compensate the average songwriting. This might be a three star single on a pop site but let's stick to two stars here.

 Grave New World by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.16 | 348 ratings

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Grave New World
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 341

'Grave New World' is the fourth studio album of Strawbs and was released in 1972. This is another conceptual album, this time it depicts the story of one man's life from the beginning, 'Benedictus' until the end, 'Journey's End'.

As with their previous studio album, 'Grave New World' shows the continue movement from the Strawbs' original folk leanings, for a more progressive rock sound. It was so evident that the founding member Tony Hooper began to be uncomfortable with this option and left the band after the recording sessions. This was also the first studio album released by the band after the departure of their keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who left Strawbs to join Yes. Blue Weaver was the man recruited to substitute Wakeman. He was considered by fans a more than adequate replacement for him.

The line up on the album is Dave Cousins (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, dulcimer and recorder), Tony Hooper (vocals, acoustic guitar, autoharp and tambourine), Blue Weaver (organ, piano, harmonium, Mellotron and clavioline), John Ford (vocals, bass and acoustic guitars) and Richard Hudson (vocals, drums, sitar and tablas).

The front cover of the album is a reproduction of the 'Glad Day', a picture of William Blake. The original vinyl version had a luxurious artwork, including a pamphlet showing all the lyrics on the album and details of all instrumentation used on the album. Fortunately, I have the honour of have one of those copies on my hands, bought in the old 70's.

'Grave New World' has twelve tracks. The first track 'Benedictus' written by Cousins is similar to 'A Glimpse Of Heaven' from their previous studio album 'From The Witchwood'. It's a well constructed song with a delightful organ break in the middle. This is a great opener and a fantastic musical moment. It's my second favourite song on the album. The second track 'Hey Little Man'Thursday Child' and the sixth track 'Hey Little Man' Wednesday Child' are written by Cousins. This is a short, simple and calm acoustic song, divided into two parts and performed only with vocals and acoustic guitar. It's about an older man giving advices to his youngest son. The third track 'Queen Of Dreams' written by Cousins is one of the most experimental songs of the band. It's an ambitious song with some psychedelic influences and with its beats recorded in reverse. This is another great moment on the album. The fourth track 'Heavy Disguise' written by Ford is another short song on the album. It's a great tune with good lyrics. This is a song well performed, with a brass section played by the Robert Kirby Silver Band, which gives to the track a special feeling and a very different place on the album. The fifth track 'New World' written by Cousins is an incredible and fantastic song. This is the most powerful song ever made by them and is, perhaps, their best song too. It's a song that grows in intensity as the song progresses, full of Mellotron and has one of the best vocal performances of Cousins. It's a perfect song and one of the best in the progressive rock scene. The seventh track 'The Flower And The Young Man' written by Cousins is a beautiful melodic song, with great vocals about the changes of the seasons. It's a folk song with a remarkable use of organ and Mellotron. The eighth track 'Tomorrow' written by Cousins, Hooper, Ford, Weaver and Hudson is another highlight on the album. It's the more rock song on the entire album and has a great symphonic sound. This is the hardest rock tune on the album and is, perhaps, the song that most upset Hooper. The ninth track 'On Growing Older' written by Cousins is a short folk acoustic song, very nice and cool that sounds as an old English song of the 60's. It has interesting lyrics about wasting the youth with reaffirmation of the life's wonder. The tenth track 'Ah Me, Ah My' written by Hooper is another short song and despite be fun, is the weakest song on the album. Sincerely, it sounds to me a bit inappropriated to the album. No wonder that Hooper stayed upset with the album in general. The eleventh track 'Is It Today, Lord?' written by Hudson is another highlight on the album. It's a mystical song, much Indian, with sitar, tables, autoharp and Indian harmonium. The lyrics talk about the end of the man's life. The twelfth track 'The Journey's End' written by Cousins and Weaver closes the man's life journey and also the album, magnificently. It's a very beautiful song, only with nicely vocals and a delightful piano performed by Weaver. Finally, the journey is complete.

Conclusion: 'Grave New World' represents, in my humble opinion, another major step forward in the musical career of Strawbs. It's also one of their best albums and personally, it's my favourite musical work of them. I bought this album for more than forty years and I always loved it. It always had a very own place into my heart. It's one of the best albums of 1972 and one of the best progressive folk/rock albums ever made. Sincerely, if you don't have this album and you like prog folk/rock music, don't hesitate and get a copy of it. And if you can put your hands on one of those luxurious vinyl copies, better for you. Between 1971 and 1975 they made quite a few essential albums, and 'Grave New World' shows Strawbs at their finest moment. This album helped to put Strawbs as one of the best British prog bands ever.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Early Strawbs by STRAWBS album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1974
2.67 | 7 ratings

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Early Strawbs
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review N 336

"Early Strawbs" is a very special compilation of Strawbs. It was released in 1974. This is an economic package that includes their debut eponymous studio album "Strawbs", released in 1969, and their second studio album "Dragonfly", released in 1970, on only one album. This is a good and interesting compilation from the band because it includes the two first studio works from the group, at a very cheap price, and what would be a very worth purchase, in those days. However, for those who have already both albums, it might be a nice addition for any vinyl progressive rock collection.

"Strawbs" and "Dragonfly" are two very interesting albums of Strawbs because they represent the beginning of the band on its more pure and simple acoustic musical style. They're also interesting because they feature a totally different kind of line up, as is usual with almost progressive rock acts, for instance, the absence of a drummer. That would never happen again on their next music works. They represent also their most obscure and unknown albums.

As I've already reviewed these two albums previously on Progarchives, in a more extensive way, I'm not going to do it again. So, if you are interested to know, in more detail, what I wrote about them before, I invite you to read those my both reviews. However, in here I'm going to write something about them in a more short way. So, of course, I'm not going to analyze them track by track, as I made before, but I'm only going to make a global appreciation of both albums.

"Strawbs": As I mentioned above, the line up on "Strawbs" is very different and short and is formed by Dave Cousins (vocals and guitars), Tony Hooper (vocals and guitars) and Ron Chesterman (double bass). The album had also the participation of John Paul Jones, the bassist of Led Zeppelin and Nicky Hopkins, the keyboardist of The Rolling Stones, on some tracks. "Strawbs" is definitely one of the big surprises and one of the most pleasant albums released in the end of the 60's. It's true that it shows some weak musical points, but in general we may say that this is an album that shows some consistency and an album with some great moments. Some songs are wonderfully composed in terms of lyrics and music, such as "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus", and we may say that, in general, they have already some complexity. It has, without any doubt, the main leanings of their future music, and it has also, in a certain way, the born of their future progressive folk roots. So, all in all, "Strawbs" is a nice prog-folk debut album of one of the greatest prog folk bands in the 70's. Strawbs happens to be as one of my all times favourite prog bands since quite a long time.

"Dragonfly": The line up on "Dragonfly" is precisely the same of their debut studio album with the addition of Claire Deniz (cello), as a new member of the group. The album had also the participation of Tony Visconti (recorder), Paul Brett (electric guitar) and Bjarne Rostvold (drums). It has also the presence, for the first time, of Rick Wakeman, but on this album he is only a guest musician. Like the previous album, "Dragonfly" is also a typical folk album with very little progressivity, really. However, and as happened too with "Strawbs", "Dragonfly" has the main leanings of the progressive group that they would become, very soon. Their two songs, "The Battle" from "Strawbs" and "The Vision Of The Lady Of The Lake" from "Dragonfly", are two perfect examples of that. "Dragonfly" is, in my humble opinion, a step forward in the musical maturity of Strawbs, being a more cohesive and a uniform musical work than "Strawbs" is. This is an album full of delicate harmonies, simple acoustic melodies, but unfortunately, isn't well recorded but nothing shameful either. The second album of Strawbs is probably their quietest and most acoustic album. It was as well the only one with cellist Claire Deniz in the line up, contributing considerably to the overall mellow atmosphere all over it.

Conclusion: If you already have the two studio albums in two individual albums, vinyl or CD, you don't need to buy this compilation unless you're a collectionist. It has nothing new to offer, like bonus tracks. It doesn't happen with the remastered versions on the CD format. The original remastered CD's have several bonus tracks to offer, and in general, they're all good and interesting to hear. However, if you don't have these two albums yet, this is an excellent alternative to own these two albums. It's true that they aren't two essential studio albums in the discography of the group and that both don't represent two essential musical pieces of music to have in a progressive music collection. However, both represent two good albums and a mysterious and almost unknown face of this incredible prog band. Just one more thing: To complement these two studio albums, I recommend their third studio album "From The Witchwood" released in 1971 and their first live album "Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious", released in 1970, an album where almost all tracks weren't released on any studio album before. It's a great album, much better than "Strawbs" and "Dragonfly", and represents a wonderful evening with a superb acoustic concert. It remains as one of the most memorable live performances of them. It isn't their best or a perfect album, but it's the most pure, nave and probably the most beautiful musical work made by the group. It represents also the first memorable performance of Rick Wakeman on a live show.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 The Ferryman's Curse by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.13 | 52 ratings

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The Ferryman's Curse
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by ross warren

5 stars It has taken me a long time to get around to buying this one, but being shut up and having read some reviews that seemed almost to good to be true, I decided to buy. What a great set this is, by far to most satisfying strawbs record since their 70's commercial peak. So good that it would have fitted in well after Ghosts. Everything that us great about this band is here in bucket fulls. Clearly Bainbridge is a fan of the Strawbs, and it is his mellotron work that gives this release its classic feel. Classic in every sense, should this turn out to be their last then they are going out on a real high. For lovers of Dave Cousins voice and the Strawbs in general this has to be at the very least a 4.5. i am going the whole hog though and will give it 5 stars. IMHO it fulfills all the tests and is Essential, a true masterwork of progressive rock music. It you like the Strawbs this really deserves to be in your collection, my only regret is that it has taken me so long to get around to purchasing it.
 The Ferryman's Curse by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.13 | 52 ratings

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The Ferryman's Curse
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars I have always had a soft spot for the Strawbs , even forcing me to anoint ''Hero and Heroine'' as my all-time numero uno! Many other fine albums litter their stellar career , indefatigably led by David Cousins' delectable voice and sharp ,well-crafted lyrics as he is quite the story-teller. It has been quite a revelation to listen to this, their latest opus and it is a truly splendid affair. Themes are clearly spiritual in nature, perhaps even a tad religious, a trait that has adorned many previous works from this classic prog band.

From the opening symphonic notes, you just cannot help to be reassured that this might just be a winner and the tone is immediately stamped with one of their very finest pieces yet, the glorious ''the Nails from the Hands of Christ''. Thumping bass from master bassist Chas Cronk sets the pace, a poignant tirade of incredible passion and euphoria. Dave Lambert shines particularly with some chiseled slashes of guitar genius, pushed along by stalwart drummer Tony Fernandez as well as sturdy and pulsating keyboards from master-musician Dave Bainbridge (of Iona -fame , as well as some amazing solo works). His input is also compositional, adding his mark on a half of the tracks . But old man Cousins steals the show with a mastery of tone and urgency , a philosophy of singing he will maintain throughout this sparkling album.

Two drop-dead gorgeous ballads ensue, a perfect platform for the voice to shine, as the music holds the fort in masterful control. ''The Song of Infinite Sadness'' is a crushingly poignant piece , anointed with crystalline acoustic guitars and lush mellotron strings , an often deadly combination. David vocalizes like only he can, sweet melancholy and breathless inspiration in a hushed yet anguished delivery. This would have fitted nicely on a classic album such as ''Ghosts''. Sheer delight. Another world-class moment is reached on ''The Familiarity of Old Lovers'', a sensational slice of dark and folky symphonics, the beauty of the subject matter is only eclipsed by the brooding music , expertly guided and extraordinarily presented. The strings weep seductively as Lambert flicks his wrist with unabated power , carving delicious sounds from his electric guitar, very proggy and profound.

''When the Spirit Moves'' is an extended and heavily orchestrated affair, deliberately gentle at first and gradually swept up in massive symphonics, as Cousins heightens the tone , passionate and committed. Tubular bells add a holy majesty to the arrangements as it soars towards the heavens.

''The Ten Commandments'' is a Dave Lambert piece and as is often case with him, it provides a rockier, more countrified twang, his voice less nasal , sounding a bit like Steve Winwood at times and his guitar playing simple and effective. Hammond organ rolls along like a Muscle Shoals river, giving this track a breath of fresh air.

A return to brooding prog-folk compositions , which this group does so well, with the brief instrumental ''The Reckoning'' , highlighted by Bainbrige's delicate piano and keyboards. This serves to introduce another cracker epic , the delirious title track, which is an arch-typical Strawbs classic, a pulsating story recalling Charon and Styx with musical oomph, beastly organ blasts , booming bass and drums and tortuous electric guitars. Cousins relates with zealous passion , screeching, squealing and hurling terrifying words as if his life depended on it. The suspense weaves back down to earth, just an excuse to explode once again, offering the riveting coup de grace. Masterful!

A sweet and bucolic respite from the previous angst, ''Bats and Swallows'' offers a musical breeze that nevertheless focuses on the cheery lyrics and the playful guitar adornments. ''Rosemary and sage'' rekindles images of a bridge over troubled water, but in a more modern context.

Ratchet up the mood with the anthemic ''We Have the Power'' , a stellar message of hope, honour, promise and rebirth. It may serve as a perfect song to illustrate the current viral situation the earth is fighting. Just reading the lyric sheet, you cannot help but visualize the parallels . ''It's in our hands'' , he says. Indeed it is. Make sure you keep washing them.

4.5 blessed returns

 Nomadness by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.52 | 76 ratings

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Nomadness
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

2 stars How the mighty have fallen. But did they jump or were they pushed?

After the brilliant Ghosts album, Dave Cousins and co., sans a permanent keyboard player this time around as the great John Hawken jumped ship, put out a definitively non prog offering with Nomadness. Paring down the songs away from their prog epics, this group of short hard rockers, along with a few ballads, are some of the worst songs that the Strawbs ever committed to tape. Putting aside the group's move to more radio friendly mid 70's fare, the problem with a majority of these songs is their quality. Guitarist and main songwriter Cousins could write great short up tempo rock songs as evidenced by the songs "Lay Down" and "Lemon Pie" that the group recorded on past albums, so that was the problem? A lack of muse and motivation seems to be the cause. "To Be Free" is actually good as to conveying a sense of neurotic craziness with it's almost rap like run on stream of consciousness lyrics and is one for the group's oddball list. But one of the better ones. However, the more straight forward Bad Company-like rockers "Little Sleepy" (written and sung by lead guitarist Dave Lambert), "Back on The Farm" and "Tokyo Rosie" lack conviction and feel like deliberate attempts at a song style. Something that the Strawbs cared little about in the past as the group always threw their songs at the wall to see what would stick. The ballads fare a bit better with the reflective "Golden Salamander" and the ulta reflective "Hanging In The Gallery" being the some of Cousin's best. The album ends on a high note with the grandiose and dramatic "The Promised Land", penned by bassist Chas Cronk, which shows that heavy rockers need not be devoid of grandeur and drama. Something sorely lacking in the rest of the album's rockers.

Why Cousins was so off his muse for this batch of songs is anybody's guess. But a look at the album's cover photo shows a painfully thin Cousins who was never known for being anything other than chubby. Cousins always claimed that he was ill at the time he wrote and recorded most of the songs for Nomadness. So, the song quality may have been out of his control, but the musical direction of the Strawbs certainly was. So, did the Strawbs jump or were they pushed? Unfortunately, it seems it that it was a case of both.

 Access All Areas by STRAWBS album cover DVD/Video, 2015
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Access All Areas
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

— First review of this album —
3 stars Taken in 1990, this video of Access All Areas' Central TVs series televised concert of the Strawbs is a very good sounding and looking live outing of the Strawbs on both CD and DVD. I wish it had been from a happier and more productive era of the band, but as an historical document, it shows just how low the band sunk creatively in 1990.

All of the songs are very much by the numbers and offer nothing new except for an all rock approach to Dave Cousins' much loved "Grace Darling". The more modern, for the era, sounding lead guitar of Brian Wiloughby and the thin sounding synths and treated electric piano of Chris Parren give the songs a subtle new wave edge. But again, just subtlety. Cousins is still in good voice at this juncture and he's able to pull off the higher register vocals in the concert's only prog epic "Down By The Sea", that was sung by Dave Lambert in the old halcyon days. It's good to have returning co-founding member Tony Hooper and new bassist Rod Demick harmonize with Cousins in tune, something that was always impossible with the previous line up that included guitarist Dave Lambert and bassist Chas Cronk, so that chorus heavy songs like "Lay Down" and "Part Of The Union" really shine on this disc. It may contain the best live versions of those two songs that I've ever heard with the group actually doing an acapella section in "Lay Down", a first. Cousins does a rare lead vocal on "Part of The Union" which he pulls off quite well. "Cut Like A Diamond" and "The Hangman And The Papist" are done well and are tight versions. This is also the first recording of Cousins' ode to the late Sandy Denny titled "Ringing Down The Years". Cousins' emotional intro really helps to sell the song. C

It's also nice to hear drummer Richard Hudson clearly for once, as he sounds like a lot better player than on past studio albums where he was always down a bit in the muddy rhythm track mixes on the 70's album recordings. And the band sound quite polished and enthusiastic overall.

So, despite Cousins and company in fine concert form, it's sad that this group was at a creative low with Cousins (by his own admission) writing no more that 13 songs since the break up of the group in 1978, when he literally wrote hundreds. This 2 disc CD and DVD set does have a few good things going for it so a rating of 3 stars seem about right.

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

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