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Strawbs/Dave Cousins Appreciation Thread!

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SteveG View Drop Down
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    Posted: January 10 2018 at 04:05

As per Ken Levine's suggestion, an appreciation thread for the Strawbs and their related artists.

 
I'm not going to do a bio, but just want to state that Strawbs leader Dave Cousins was initially bitten by the American folk bug, by artists like Woody Guthrie, Jack Elliot and Derroll Adams. Cousins has hidden the fact, quite well, that he is one of Britain's best 5 string banjo players and was used for session work while the Strawbs were still known as the Strawberry Hill Boys.
 
If you know any interesting tidbits about Dave Cousins and the Strawbs, please chime in. Smile


Edited by SteveG - January 10 2018 at 04:09
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mortte Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 05:39
Not my biggest faves, but great band anyway!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote kenethlevine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 08:18
on the subject of the epic "Blue Angel", I still prefer the original version from Dave Cousins' solo album "Two Weeks Last Summer".  It has a rawness and economy to it and I also think Cousins' voice is at its best while Wakeman's piano really suite the song.  But then it could all be just because I never heard another version for 10 years.  In 1984 I saw the reformed band to a packed house at the El Mocambo in Toronto.  They played mostly old songs, like from Grave New Wold and before, not surprisingly since Tony Hooper and Richard Hudson were in the traveling group.  Cousins and guitarist extraordinaire Brian Willoughby did an acoustic version of Blue Angel that blew my mind.  I don't think there are any official recordings of this configuration, but I think that might have surpassed all other versions for me.

Speaking of Willoughby, I think he was technically superior to Dave Lambert.  Listen to some of the chops on the "Don't Say Goodbye" album for proof.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote kenethlevine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 08:24
On the subject of the new album, "Ferryman's Curse", while I don't like everything on it, I think it flows together better than any album since Ghosts.  Even the Lambert tune, stylistically different, is in keeping with the religious themes present throughout the album.  The flow of an album can make it less or more than the sum of its parts.  Luckily, unlike say "Nomadness", which had quite a few good songs but no flow, "Ferryman's Curse" manages to seem cohesive and is better for it

Edited by kenethlevine - January 10 2018 at 08:24
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Barbu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 10:14
Discovered them in early 2000 with the Hero & Heroine track, was instantly blown away, bought 4 or 5 records (early ones) and they quickly became a favorite of mine.

Favorite albums: Hero & Heroine, From the Witchwood, Ghosts, Grave new World

Favorite live: BBC in Session/In Concert

Favorite track (out of many): Autumn, Hanging in the Gallery, The Hangman, Lay Down...but the ultimate Strawbs track for me is The Antique Suite (Painted acoustic version).

For those who never heard them, I strongly encourage you to give a listen to the illustrious Strawbs and learn the true meaning of eternal friendship.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 10:29
Originally posted by kenethlevine kenethlevine wrote:

Cousins and guitarist extraordinaire Brian Willoughby did an acoustic version of Blue Angel that blew my mind.  I don't think there are any official recordings of this configuration, but I think that might have surpassed all other versions for me.

Speaking of Willoughby, I think he was technically superior to Dave Lambert.  Listen to some of the chops on the "Don't Say Goodbye" album for proof.
I would have liked to seen that one. Willoughby is an awesome guitarist both in electric and acoustic, which is why I'm so high on the first 40th Anniversary CD. His electric playing with the "Blue Angel Strawbs" is awesome as are his acoustic duets with Cathryn Craig, who is a marvelous singer in her own right.

Edited by SteveG - January 10 2018 at 10:31
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hercules Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 16:19
Grave New World and From the Witchwood were the first and second albums I ever bought (by any band!).

I also love Hero and Heroine, Ghosts and most of Bursting at the Seams.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Squonk19 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 17:13
What a good idea for an appreciation thread, as I dive back into their back catalogue, as a result of recent discussions elsewhere on the forum. It'll be nice to hear the comments of other fans and I'll try to contribute with some views of favourite songs, albums etc. myself over the next week or so.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Barbu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 18:35
I'm terribly broke right now and can't afford any new music at all but I found an amazon gift card in the drawer and gleefully ordered the 40th Strawberry Fayre vol.1 (warmly recommended by big G)

Can't wait to hear this one.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kenethlevine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 19:31
favorites for me are the big 4, "Grave New World", "Bursting at the Seams", "Hero and Heroine" and "Ghosts".  Every one of them has characteristics that make them strong contenders for the best Strawbs album.  But if I was pushed to pick one, it would be "Ghosts", hitting the sweet spot at the intersection of darkness and light.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kenethlevine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 19:34
Originally posted by Barbu Barbu wrote:

Discovered them in early 2000 with the Hero & Heroine track, was instantly blown away, bought 4 or 5 records (early ones) and they quickly became a favorite of mine.

Favorite albums: Hero & Heroine, From the Witchwood, Ghosts, Grave new World

Favorite live: BBC in Session/In Concert

Favorite track (out of many): Autumn, Hanging in the Gallery, The Hangman, Lay Down...but the ultimate Strawbs track for me is The Antique Suite (Painted acoustic version).

For those who never heard them, I strongly encourage you to give a listen to the illustrious Strawbs and learn the true meaning of eternal friendship.

wow for some reason I assumed you were a fan since their heyday.
Did you get to see them at FMPM or at the Outremont theatre in recent years?
Back when CHOM-FM was a fantastic bilingual station, Strawbs might have been the most beloved group on that station, receiving tons of airplay and garnering a lot of popularity for being a cultish band, apart from a couple of big hit singles in the UK
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dr wu23 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 19:37
I'm a fan....have From The Witchwood to and including Deep Cuts....some on vinyl and some on cd....been meaning to pick up the first and Dragonfly for a long time. I also need to ck out the later albums especially the ones from the 2ooo's.  Grave New World and Hero and Heroine are my two favorites.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Peter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 20:56
Wonderful, classic band!

I"ve been a fan since I first heard Round and Round on late night FM many years ago. I was blown away by the great music and hard-hitting, bitter lyrics. As a committed Genesis, Yes, and ELP fan, I couldn't believe there was such a strong English Prog band that I had never heard of.

Autumn and Blue Angel still move me tremendously, and they have many more superb tracks. The music is terrific, of course, but I think Cousins wrote some of the finest lyrics ever in rock. As a lyricist, I'd call him better than most, and the equal of any.

I also love the early stuff with the late great Sandy Denny.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 21:00
Originally posted by kenethlevine kenethlevine wrote:

On the subject of the new album, "Ferryman's Curse", while I don't like everything on it, I think it flows together better than any album since Ghosts.  Even the Lambert tune, stylistically different, is in keeping with the religious themes present throughout the album.  The flow of an album can make it less or more than the sum of its parts.  Luckily, unlike say "Nomadness", which had quite a few good songs but no flow, "Ferryman's Curse" manages to seem cohesive and is better for it

Thanks for that fine, concise review. I will certainly have to check that one out ASAP!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Barbu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 21:51
Originally posted by kenethlevine kenethlevine wrote:

Originally posted by Barbu Barbu wrote:

Discovered them in early 2000 with the Hero & Heroine track, was instantly blown away, bought 4 or 5 records (early ones) and they quickly became a favorite of mine.

Favorite albums: Hero & Heroine, From the Witchwood, Ghosts, Grave new World

Favorite live: BBC in Session/In Concert

Favorite track (out of many): Autumn, Hanging in the Gallery, The Hangman, Lay Down...but the ultimate Strawbs track for me is The Antique Suite (Painted acoustic version).

For those who never heard them, I strongly encourage you to give a listen to the illustrious Strawbs and learn the true meaning of eternal friendship.


wow for some reason I assumed you were a fan since their heyday.
Did you get to see them at FMPM or at the Outremont theatre in recent years?
Back when CHOM-FM was a fantastic bilingual station, Strawbs might have been the most beloved group on that station, receiving tons of airplay and garnering a lot of popularity for being a cultish band, apart from a couple of big hit singles in the UK

Haha I was only 6 months old when Hero was released, Ken!

and no, I never had the chance to caught them live but I'm fine with it. Have a few DVD to compensate and I particularly like the acoustic Hampton Court Palace...short but highly enjoyable.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mortte Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 10 2018 at 22:56
Have to say "Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios" is really great live album. Wakeman doing a great job into it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2018 at 04:23
Originally posted by kenethlevine kenethlevine wrote:

On the subject of the new album, "Ferryman's Curse", while I don't like everything on it, I think it flows together better than any album since Ghosts.  Even the Lambert tune, stylistically different, is in keeping with the religious themes present throughout the album.  The flow of an album can make it less or more than the sum of its parts.  Luckily, unlike say "Nomadness", which had quite a few good songs but no flow, "Ferryman's Curse" manages to seem cohesive and is better for it
So many good topics in this thread!  
 
"Ferryman's Curse" definitely has a thematic vibe with it's spiritual overtones and slow paced, almost reverent musical themes, similar to Hero And Heroine with it's loosely connected songs of emotional highs and lows. There are not concept albums by any means but come close in that they focus on a central lyrical theme.
I'm often surprised that a songwriter of Cousins' caliber never wrote a proper "concept album" about war, terrorism, religion or other topics that he's often touched upon.


Edited by SteveG - January 11 2018 at 06:48
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2018 at 04:40
Originally posted by Peter Peter wrote:

Wonderful, classic band!

I"ve been a fan since I first heard Round and Round on late night FM many years ago. I was blown away by the great music and hard-hitting, bitter lyrics. As a committed Genesis, Yes, and ELP fan, I couldn't believe there was such a strong English Prog band that I had never heard of.

Autumn and Blue Angel still move me tremendously, and they have many more superb tracks. The music is terrific, of course, but I think Cousins wrote some of the finest lyrics ever in rock. As a lyricist, I'd call him better than most, and the equal of any.

I also love the early stuff with the late great Sandy Denny.
Same here. I love both the older and newer stuff including the acoustic Strawbs' albums "Baroque and Roll' and "Painted Sky." The early stuff with Sandy Denny gets very little love, it seems. But I think it's wonderful!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Squonk19 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2018 at 17:14
If I had to pick just one album by them - it has to be Hero and Heroine, but frankly all the albums from the 70s before and after it have so many great moments, it is hard to single albums out.

However, if you move away from this more rock-orientated period, the album I really loved was the 'first' album - Strawbs. Great songs, a lightness of touch, more folky, endearingly innocent at times and I regularly go back to it to hear 'The Man Who Called Himself Jesus', 'Pieces of 79 and 15' (apparently where Dave and Tony lived, I once was told), "The Battle' and those little storyline tunes like "All the Little Ladies', 'Poor Jimmy Wilson' etc.

For those people wanting to get into prime Strawbs from the 70s, I would recommend the compilation 'A Choice Selection of Strawbs' which does a great job at cherry picking many highlights and might then get them looking for the numerous hidden gems held by the studio albums themselves.

I was a fan from the mid-70s but had to wait to see them for the first time on February 27th, 1980 at the UMIST Student's Union in Manchester - where they previewed 'Heartbreak Hill' but which sadly was not released until many years later as they had an extended hiatus for several years after that. Made it to the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1984 for the reunion and then regularly after that in acoustic or electric formats since then. Never been disappointed - other than when they supported Lindisfarne, and their set was far too short!

I'd like to recommend the 'Old School Songs' album where Dave Cousins and Brian Willoughby really bring out the best, acoustically, out of a range of Strawbs songs - with 'Grace Darling' a particular highlight (although that's not to knock the choir accompaniment of the original version).

Working through my collection to try to produce a top 20 of sorts, and trying to get some newer songs in it too ('The Broken-hearted Bride' has its moments, for example). Very difficult to get the number down! When I stop procrasinating, I'll post it and then run for cover!

Edited by Squonk19 - January 11 2018 at 23:53
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kenethlevine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 11 2018 at 18:11
^wow that gig supporting Heartbreak Hill must have been a rarity.  It was soon after that I think Cousins left the band, they did a show or two without him (with Roy Hill as lead singer) and the disbanded entirely.

I agree about Old School Songs, particularly Willoughby's acoustic lead bits and 2 songs that had not yet appeared on any album as of that time, although they had a much older lineage, "the sweet "I've been my own worst friend" and the lively "You keep going your way".  The latter actually appeared on an album by the Johnstons I believe, a decade or so before Old School Songs.

For over 5 years "A Choice Selection of Strawbs" was the only way to get most of those tracks on CD.  Next was Halcyon Days in very different UK and US versions, followed by most of the remasters.  The big problem with Choice selection is it only has one track from the excellent "Ghosts" and one so-so track from "Nomadness".

I'm more a fan of "Dragonfly" than the first album - it's more pastoral and the style is more English if you will, and actually is the missing link between the first album and "From the Witchwood".  I know that most outside reviewers give Dragonfly a thumbs down, and it is indeed extremely mellow, but the cello is very predominant and Cousins sets some beautiful imagery to the music.

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