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Strawbs - Grave New World CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.16 | 356 ratings

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3 stars The followup to From The Witchwood sees Wakeman depart from the band for a bigger career elsewhere, meaning that the Strawbs could only get better from here on!

I hope that you don't assume that I criticize Rick Wakeman's work with the Strawbs, I just don't think that his talent fit all that well with the rest of the band members and whenever that is the case, the best solution is usually to seek other, more compatible, carrier opportunities for both sides of the clash. The weird thing is that most references to the sound of Crosby, Stills and Nash departed with Wakeman, since Grave New World sees the Strawbs adapting the Symphonic Prog sound that began to spread in the music community of the time. Still, I personally consider this music to sound very Folk, for most part, and the first comparison I can think of, off the top of my head, is that to Jethro Tull's Aqualung. Both are loose concept albums featuring shorter 1 & 2 minute acoustic interlude tunes that keep the general flow of the record flowing quite nicely.

Blue Weaver is an excellent replacement for Rick Wakeman since his style is more subtile and tends to underline the other performances better than Wakeman's sharp presence that just can't be ignored whenever he is around. Still, it's not the change of the keyboard player that makes this album stand out compared to the rest of the band's golden years releases. Grave New World marked a time where Dave Cousins had a slight drop in his songwriting abilities and so the rest of the band had to chip in with their contributions which, for most part, actually work rather nicely. Heavy Disguise is a nice little acoustic guitar tune with brass arrangements that fit it quite well, while Richard Hudson's Is It Today, Lord? might be regarded as acquired taste by some for its extencive use of a sitar in what otherwise is a Folk music performance, but I happen to enjoy it.

The only song that I definitely could have done without is Tony Hooper's rather nostalgic sounding Ah Me, Ah My, which comes off more like a mockery, a lá Steve Hackett, to my ears. Other than that, Grave New World is definitely a step up from From The Witchwood but not enough to make it a personal favorite of mine.

***** star songs: New World (4:11)

**** star songs: Benedictus (4:27) Hey Little Man ... Thursday's Child (1:06) Heavy Disguise (2:53) Hey Little Man ... Wednesday's Child (1:08) The Flower And The Young Man (4:18) Tomorrow (4:51) On Growing Older (1:56) Is It Today Lord (3:09) The Journey's End (1:43)

*** star songs: Queen Of Dreams (5:32) Ah Me, Ah My (1:24)

Rune2000 | 3/5 |


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