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Strawbs - Halcyon Days  (UK Release)  CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.52 | 21 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Compiled with care

"Halcyon days" is a superb double CD collection of many of the Strawbs best tracks, plus quite a number of rare and less well know pieces.

While there is inevitably some overlap with the widely available "Choice collection" CD, there are plenty of tracks on both which are not duplicated.

The compilation opens with the title track from the "Ghosts" album. This is rather an adventurous choice, as the track is one of the darkest and least commercial Strawbs works. That said, it is an excellent long piece. Other less obvious selections include the "Blue Angel" suite from Dave Cousins only solo album, the at times almost improvisational "Queen of dreams" from "Grave new world", the wonderful "Shepherd's song" from "From the Witchwood" featuring some fine keyboards by Rick Wakeman, and an excellent bass laden reworking of "Tell me what you see in me".

Among the more predictable, but nonetheless worthy inclusions are the troubling "Hangman and the papist", the frantic "Hero and Heroine", and two other superb tracks from the album of that name "Round and round" and "Out in the cold". "The river" and "Down by the sea" appear in the order they are performed live, rather than the other way round, as on "Bursting at the seams". The way they appear here is far more effective, the climax to "The river" bursting superbly into the chiming guitar of "Down by the sea". While various singles such as "Part of the Union" and "Lay down" are included, they are kept well in check.

"Halcyon days" also features quite a number of non album b-sides. "Why" and "Wherefore" are joined together for the first time to from a single track, while "Will ye go" is a version of the traditional song "Wild mountain thyme" (as performed by the Byrds on their "Untitled" album). "Back side" is a throwaway tribute to David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust alter-ego. A trio of tracks by the Strawbs offshoot Hudson Ford are included. Both "Burn baby burn" and "Pick up the pieces" were credible, if unchallenging hit singles.

An excellent starting point for those unfamiliar with the Strawbs work.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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