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Strawbs - Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.75 | 77 ratings

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4 stars Review Nš 163

'Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious' is the debut live album of Strawbs. It was at the same time their third album and was released in 1970 too. It was recorded at the Queen Elisabeth Hall in London. For their benefit, this album was released outside of the UK, including the USA, giving them the international exposure they needed. It might seem a bit strange that a live album be the first Strawbs' album and the people outside of the UK have heard about. It's a very special live album, because although it was recorded live, none of the tracks were released on any studio album before, except 'Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth', originally released on their eponymous debut studio album 'Strawbs'.

The line up of the group had changed drastically in relation to their two previous studio albums. Only the two founder members Dave Cousins and Tony Hooper remained, Ron Chesterman and Claire Deniz left the group. The band had the addition of two other new members John Ford and Richard Hudson, and Rick Wakeman also became a full-time member of the group. So, the line up of the album is Dave Cousins (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and dulcimer), Tony Hooper (vocals, acoustic guitar and tambourine), Rick Wakeman (piano, organ, harpsichord and celeste), John Ford (bass guitar) and Richard Hudson (vocals, congas, percussion and sitar).

'Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious' has six tracks. All tracks were written by Cousins except 'Temperament Of Mind' which was written by Wakeman. The first track 'Martin Luther King's Dream' is, as its name says, a tribute to Martin Luther King and was obviously written about his 'I Have A Dream' speech. It's the shortest track on the album, a kind of a folk troubadour epic which benefits from the newly acquired rhythm section and backing vocals from John Ford and Richard Hudson and the brief performance from Rick Wakeman on organ. The second track 'The Antique Suite' is a song divided into four parts, 'The Reaper', 'We Must Cross The River', 'Antiques And Curious' and 'Hey It's Been A Long Time'. It was a song written about a doctor friend of Dave Cousins and his collection of antiques. It's the lengthiest musical piece on the album and it comes on the same vein of the two folk epics of their previous studio albums 'The Battle' and 'Vision Of The Lady Of The Lake'. It's an excellent piece of music, one of their best, and an excellent example of what is the early Strawbs' musical compendium. The third track 'Temperament Of Mind' is a completely different piece of music. This is a Rick Wakeman's classical piano solo piece of music which includes several quotes from several classical musical pieces. This was the piece of music that brought Rick Wakeman to the forefront of the rock scene and shows all the virtuosity, capacity and originality, of his music in the future. The fourth track 'Fingertips' was written about a very beautiful Swedish girl that Dave Cousins met on those days. It's a more experimental song, the only real psychedelic song on the album, and the use of a sitar gives to it some Oriental musical ambience. It's an incredible track where the intimate and almost reticent vocals from Dave Cousins with the intricate instrumental performances, especially the use of sitar and dulcimer, gives to the song the final perfect touch. This is a pure genius song, probably my favourite track on the album. The fifth track 'Song Of A Sad Little Girl' was written about Dave Cousins' little daughter, Joelle. It's a very nice song that shows some intricate acoustic guitar performed by Dave Cousins and also shows a perfect interplay between Rick Wakeman and Dave Cousins, which stands as one of the best examples of Rick Wakeman's integration with Strawbs. The sixth and last track 'Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth?', was a song released on their debut studio album 'Strawbs'. However, this live version of the original studio track may practically be considered a totally new song. The 3 minutes of the original version go to 9 minutes and it has also an extraordinary and killer performance of Rick Wakeman on keyboards. This is a perfect example how a simple and vulgar folk song can be transformed on a great folk progressive track. This is undoubtedly a truly great track.

Conclusion: 'Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious' is a great album and remains as one of the most memorable live performances made by the group. It isn't for sure their best or even a perfect album, but it's for sure their most pure, na've and probably the most beautiful musical working made by them. 'Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious' reminds me one of the earlier albums from Genesis, 'Trespass'. Both albums were released in the same year, both remain the sweetest, delicate, fragile, romantic, innocent, na've and pure albums from them and both represent the turning point into their musical careers. 'Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious' represents a wonderful evening with a superb acoustic concert and where a certain unknown Rick Wakeman made his first memorable performance on a live set. This album represents also the turning point on band's music, where the bluegrass, folk and medieval band, moved to a progressive rock band, in my opinion, in one of the best British progressive rock groups that ever existed.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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