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Strawbs - Part of the Union/Will you go CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.00 | 1 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
3 stars The curse of "Part of the Union" was that it was on a Strawbs album, and didn't mesh well with the earnest folk rock from which they were slowly detaching, nor did it sit with its hands neatly folded in its lap next to the prog epics they were beginning to explore. A Hudson-Ford penned and sung tune that was about to be released as a single under the name "The Brothers", "Part of the Union" was ultimately selected for the "Bursting at the Seams" album by band leader Dave Cousins. He reasoned that it would become a huge hit and fragment the band if released under separate cover. Ironically, the band imploded anyway, and when the dust settled the reformed Strawbs were a full blown prog rock group with reasonable success in North America and Hudson- Ford were pop hit makers in the UK.

This is actually a catchy pop tune that flies in the face of the prevailing styles of its day. An oom pah pah beat, no electric guitar, a sing along chorus, and enough irony to leave its intent ambiguous, were all qualities lacking in most pop music at the time. Its adaptation of an old WOODY GUTHRIE tune "Union Maid" was a further departure for the charts. The barrel house piano by Blue Weaver and the simple trick of each chorus being introduced with an additional bar all augment the production by Tom Allom. In retrospect, the band should have somehow held it together after its march to #2 in the UK charts along with the album, as their mix of the familiar and the stately, along with 4 vocalists, had little competition. While they claim they were short of material for the album, the B side "Will You Go" is a rough cut gem that didn't even get onto the LP release, an "almost" traditional Scottish song often called "Wild Mountain Thyme", featuring more vocal harmonies, accordion, and an arrangement similar to a more laid back "Lay Down".

At this point, the only reason to procure this single is if you are a vinyl only collector, as both tracks are on the CD reissues, the B side as a bonus. It's a fascinating historical document of the ephemeral nature of pop success. For every 1 QUEEN or ROD STEWART there were dozens if not hundreds of STRAWBS who could not comprehend or sustain the magic they fleetingly held in their hands.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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