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Strawbs - Grave New World CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.16 | 367 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 341

'Grave New World' is the fourth studio album of Strawbs and was released in 1972. This is another conceptual album, this time it depicts the story of one man's life from the beginning, 'Benedictus' until the end, 'Journey's End'.

As with their previous studio album, 'Grave New World' shows the continue movement from the Strawbs' original folk leanings, for a more progressive rock sound. It was so evident that the founding member Tony Hooper began to be uncomfortable with this option and left the band after the recording sessions. This was also the first studio album released by the band after the departure of their keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who left Strawbs to join Yes. Blue Weaver was the man recruited to substitute Wakeman. He was considered by fans a more than adequate replacement for him.

The line up on the album is Dave Cousins (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, dulcimer and recorder), Tony Hooper (vocals, acoustic guitar, autoharp and tambourine), Blue Weaver (organ, piano, harmonium, Mellotron and clavioline), John Ford (vocals, bass and acoustic guitars) and Richard Hudson (vocals, drums, sitar and tablas).

The front cover of the album is a reproduction of the 'Glad Day', a picture of William Blake. The original vinyl version had a luxurious artwork, including a pamphlet showing all the lyrics on the album and details of all instrumentation used on the album. Fortunately, I have the honour of have one of those copies on my hands, bought in the old 70's.

'Grave New World' has twelve tracks. The first track 'Benedictus' written by Cousins is similar to 'A Glimpse Of Heaven' from their previous studio album 'From The Witchwood'. It's a well constructed song with a delightful organ break in the middle. This is a great opener and a fantastic musical moment. It's my second favourite song on the album. The second track 'Hey Little Man'Thursday Child' and the sixth track 'Hey Little Man' Wednesday Child' are written by Cousins. This is a short, simple and calm acoustic song, divided into two parts and performed only with vocals and acoustic guitar. It's about an older man giving advices to his youngest son. The third track 'Queen Of Dreams' written by Cousins is one of the most experimental songs of the band. It's an ambitious song with some psychedelic influences and with its beats recorded in reverse. This is another great moment on the album. The fourth track 'Heavy Disguise' written by Ford is another short song on the album. It's a great tune with good lyrics. This is a song well performed, with a brass section played by the Robert Kirby Silver Band, which gives to the track a special feeling and a very different place on the album. The fifth track 'New World' written by Cousins is an incredible and fantastic song. This is the most powerful song ever made by them and is, perhaps, their best song too. It's a song that grows in intensity as the song progresses, full of Mellotron and has one of the best vocal performances of Cousins. It's a perfect song and one of the best in the progressive rock scene. The seventh track 'The Flower And The Young Man' written by Cousins is a beautiful melodic song, with great vocals about the changes of the seasons. It's a folk song with a remarkable use of organ and Mellotron. The eighth track 'Tomorrow' written by Cousins, Hooper, Ford, Weaver and Hudson is another highlight on the album. It's the more rock song on the entire album and has a great symphonic sound. This is the hardest rock tune on the album and is, perhaps, the song that most upset Hooper. The ninth track 'On Growing Older' written by Cousins is a short folk acoustic song, very nice and cool that sounds as an old English song of the 60's. It has interesting lyrics about wasting the youth with reaffirmation of the life's wonder. The tenth track 'Ah Me, Ah My' written by Hooper is another short song and despite be fun, is the weakest song on the album. Sincerely, it sounds to me a bit inappropriated to the album. No wonder that Hooper stayed upset with the album in general. The eleventh track 'Is It Today, Lord?' written by Hudson is another highlight on the album. It's a mystical song, much Indian, with sitar, tables, autoharp and Indian harmonium. The lyrics talk about the end of the man's life. The twelfth track 'The Journey's End' written by Cousins and Weaver closes the man's life journey and also the album, magnificently. It's a very beautiful song, only with nicely vocals and a delightful piano performed by Weaver. Finally, the journey is complete.

Conclusion: 'Grave New World' represents, in my humble opinion, another major step forward in the musical career of Strawbs. It's also one of their best albums and personally, it's my favourite musical work of them. I bought this album for more than forty years and I always loved it. It always had a very own place into my heart. It's one of the best albums of 1972 and one of the best progressive folk/rock albums ever made. Sincerely, if you don't have this album and you like prog folk/rock music, don't hesitate and get a copy of it. And if you can put your hands on one of those luxurious vinyl copies, better for you. Between 1971 and 1975 they made quite a few essential albums, and 'Grave New World' shows Strawbs at their finest moment. This album helped to put Strawbs as one of the best British prog bands ever.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |


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