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Strawbs - Early Strawbs CD (album) cover

EARLY STRAWBS

Strawbs

 

Prog Folk

2.67 | 7 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review N 336

"Early Strawbs" is a very special compilation of Strawbs. It was released in 1974. This is an economic package that includes their debut eponymous studio album "Strawbs", released in 1969, and their second studio album "Dragonfly", released in 1970, on only one album. This is a good and interesting compilation from the band because it includes the two first studio works from the group, at a very cheap price, and what would be a very worth purchase, in those days. However, for those who have already both albums, it might be a nice addition for any vinyl progressive rock collection.

"Strawbs" and "Dragonfly" are two very interesting albums of Strawbs because they represent the beginning of the band on its more pure and simple acoustic musical style. They're also interesting because they feature a totally different kind of line up, as is usual with almost progressive rock acts, for instance, the absence of a drummer. That would never happen again on their next music works. They represent also their most obscure and unknown albums.

As I've already reviewed these two albums previously on Progarchives, in a more extensive way, I'm not going to do it again. So, if you are interested to know, in more detail, what I wrote about them before, I invite you to read those my both reviews. However, in here I'm going to write something about them in a more short way. So, of course, I'm not going to analyze them track by track, as I made before, but I'm only going to make a global appreciation of both albums.

"Strawbs": As I mentioned above, the line up on "Strawbs" is very different and short and is formed by Dave Cousins (vocals and guitars), Tony Hooper (vocals and guitars) and Ron Chesterman (double bass). The album had also the participation of John Paul Jones, the bassist of Led Zeppelin and Nicky Hopkins, the keyboardist of The Rolling Stones, on some tracks. "Strawbs" is definitely one of the big surprises and one of the most pleasant albums released in the end of the 60's. It's true that it shows some weak musical points, but in general we may say that this is an album that shows some consistency and an album with some great moments. Some songs are wonderfully composed in terms of lyrics and music, such as "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus", and we may say that, in general, they have already some complexity. It has, without any doubt, the main leanings of their future music, and it has also, in a certain way, the born of their future progressive folk roots. So, all in all, "Strawbs" is a nice prog-folk debut album of one of the greatest prog folk bands in the 70's. Strawbs happens to be as one of my all times favourite prog bands since quite a long time.

"Dragonfly": The line up on "Dragonfly" is precisely the same of their debut studio album with the addition of Claire Deniz (cello), as a new member of the group. The album had also the participation of Tony Visconti (recorder), Paul Brett (electric guitar) and Bjarne Rostvold (drums). It has also the presence, for the first time, of Rick Wakeman, but on this album he is only a guest musician. Like the previous album, "Dragonfly" is also a typical folk album with very little progressivity, really. However, and as happened too with "Strawbs", "Dragonfly" has the main leanings of the progressive group that they would become, very soon. Their two songs, "The Battle" from "Strawbs" and "The Vision Of The Lady Of The Lake" from "Dragonfly", are two perfect examples of that. "Dragonfly" is, in my humble opinion, a step forward in the musical maturity of Strawbs, being a more cohesive and a uniform musical work than "Strawbs" is. This is an album full of delicate harmonies, simple acoustic melodies, but unfortunately, isn't well recorded but nothing shameful either. The second album of Strawbs is probably their quietest and most acoustic album. It was as well the only one with cellist Claire Deniz in the line up, contributing considerably to the overall mellow atmosphere all over it.

Conclusion: If you already have the two studio albums in two individual albums, vinyl or CD, you don't need to buy this compilation unless you're a collectionist. It has nothing new to offer, like bonus tracks. It doesn't happen with the remastered versions on the CD format. The original remastered CD's have several bonus tracks to offer, and in general, they're all good and interesting to hear. However, if you don't have these two albums yet, this is an excellent alternative to own these two albums. It's true that they aren't two essential studio albums in the discography of the group and that both don't represent two essential musical pieces of music to have in a progressive music collection. However, both represent two good albums and a mysterious and almost unknown face of this incredible prog band. Just one more thing: To complement these two studio albums, I recommend their third studio album "From The Witchwood" released in 1971 and their first live album "Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious", released in 1970, an album where almost all tracks weren't released on any studio album before. It's a great album, much better than "Strawbs" and "Dragonfly", and represents a wonderful evening with a superb acoustic concert. It remains as one of the most memorable live performances of them. It isn't their best or a perfect album, but it's the most pure, nave and probably the most beautiful musical work made by the group. It represents also the first memorable performance of Rick Wakeman on a live show.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |

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