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Strawbs - Blue Angel CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

2.75 | 32 ratings

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2 stars The only place to go from here is up.

Well, that's what I said to myself the first time I heard this strange concoction from Dave Cousins and company. And I mean company, as in battalion. Or perhaps legion is the proper word. All I know is that back in 2003, Dave assembled the Acoustic Strawbs consisting of himself, Dave Lambert and Brian Willoughby, and remade an album by Cousins and Willoughby titled The Bridge with help from former Strawbs' members Chas Cronk , Richarard Hudson and Blue Weaver. He even threw in a lush remake of his solo epic song "Blue Angel" form his 1972 solo album tilted Two Weeks Last Summer with the great Mary Hopkin on backing vocals. And it doesn't quite work.

All the right ingredients are there but the recipe is missing. To put it plainly, if anyone thought that that Two Weeks Last Summer lacked a cohesive band dynamic, then that goes double fold for this album. It's way too over produced, contrived, and at times, lacking the spontaneity and organic feel for the music that's on offer. "Blue Angel" is actually better served with Blue Weaver's Mellotron flute and strings, but Dave seemed to be bent on this version being so markedly different form his original that this song's chorus of many sounds like a staid choir, while Willoughby seems to have been pushed to play something extra "Willoughby-like" to distinguish him form the rocking Miller Anderson who almost steals away the original song with his heavy and loud electric guitar lead playing. If you by chance happen to hear the "Blue Angel" version on the Strawbs' 40th Anniversary live CD set, the song is better served with the Mellotron of Weaver and the electric lead guitar of Willoughby this time playing a version of the song that's halfway between Dave's original version and the lusher studio remake. It has an organic feel and flow to it that puts both prior versions to shame. Chas Cronk playing bass and Tony Fernandez playing drums greatly helped to usher in a true band dynamic. Both Cronk and Fernandez were not on the studio remake, as ex Strawbs Rod Demick and Richard Hudson played on that track. To make matters more confusing, former member Rod Coombes also plays a few of the album's tracks! (Confusing isn't it? Remember that I said that Cousins employed a cast of thousands?)

The incredible Miss Hopkin seems too high gloss as a singer to partner with any of the Strawbs. Unlike Cathryn Craig, she can't reign herself in enough not to crowd Mr. Cousins' nasal rasp.

Blue Angel, the album, isn't all bad. "There Will Come A Day" is a stellar track, as is "The Plain' and, to a lesser extent, "Further Down The Road."But these three songs can't hold up the ten other subpar tracks that are included on this CD and force a two star rating. Don't fret. As I said, it all gets better from here on in.

SteveG | 2/5 |


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