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Dr. Strangely Strange - Alternative Medicine:  The Difficult Third Album CD (album) cover


Dr. Strangely Strange


Prog Folk

3.10 | 2 ratings

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3 stars Difficult indeed, so much so that the band waited more than twenty-five years after their second album to record it. Dr. Strangely Strange were never a very big band and this record quickly went out-of- print, but I suppose their ardent fans were pleased by the surprise reappearance.

The sound on this album is not really progressive, favoring instead decidedly Irish tones and the most contemporary feel of all their albums. This was to be expected considering the passage of time since their heyday. The lineup includes Gary Moore, who also appeared on their last album, although that one dates all the way back to 1970. The rest of the lineup are all new, presumably friends and family of the original members; and speaking of the original members, all of them save Neil Hopwood are back together here for the first time since a brief reunion in the early seventies.

The instrumentation on this album is both more refined and mature than their early albums, but also more sedate and conventional. Gone are the acid-folk sensibilities of their youth, replaced by carefully constructed arrangements and well-articulated vocals. The lyrics are fairly standard folk fare, storytelling with sometimes introspective and slightly sad ambience. Moore’s guitar gives several tracks a rather heavy blues feel, especially the appropriately-named “Whatever Happened to the Blues”, and “Hard as Nails” with its doo-wop backing vocals.

Elsewhere the boys experiment a bit, with a very latter-days Johnny Cash sound on the acoustic tracks “The James Gang” and “Epilog”; the pastoral piano/organ/violin instrumental “Planxty Roland”; and highly-percussive and peppy “Strange World”, another track with harmonized female backing vocals and fiddle. Elsewhere the Irish brogue comes through, such as with the danceable “Hale Bopp (Jig for Jack)” and the hard-luck tale “Hames and Traces”.

The length of the album (more than an hour) leads me to believe the band must have had a fair amount of material stored up waiting to be recorded, again not surprising considering how long they had to create these songs. One has to wonder what fell on the editing-room floor that might have been of interest to hardcore fans. No matter, what did make it onto the album is worth a few spins from anyone with a nostalgic spirit and a penchant for mellow folk.

I wouldn’t recommend this album to anyone who doesn’t already have a spot in their collection for laid- back, middle-aged folk singers. But if you still find yourself reminiscing while listening to an old Shirley Collins or Pete Seeger song once and a while, you may find this an album worthy of your time. Three stars in the interest of people like that, and here’s hoping if your one of those people that I run across you some time – I’m guessing we have things to talk about.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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