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Strawbs - Ghosts CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.02 | 184 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A terrifying specter

The Strawbs certainly have had a varied career over the course of their discography. Ghosts is the 8th studio album from the band to this point and one of their highest rated on ProgArchives, and it's pretty easy to see why. With a couple of monster tracks which could qualify as mini-epics flavored in the traditional form of Strawbs (English folk, a strong blues presence and progressive styling) the album certainly appeals to the eyes and ears of proggers across the globe. This is a little bit trivial, however, because over the course of the album it becomes pretty clear that their other albums have had superior moments even rooted simply in their shorter structure. An album like From The Witchwood didn't need any long songs to make it the glory that it was, but with that said, the longer tracks on this album certainly don't hurt. On the whole the disc feels hit and miss, but with a couple of home runs that problem becomes forgivable.

What does hurt on the album is that the short songs feel weak. As mentioned before, The Strawbs have made some fantastic short form prog such as songs like Witchwood and The Hangman and The Papist which are emotional, moving, and have all the structure of an epic compressed into a more concise form. On this album the short songs feel mundane. They don't have anything to prove with other, longer, more complex songs on the album, so for the most part they fail to be amazing, although some of them are enjoyable. The somewhat dirty Lemon Pie has some pleasant harmonizing and a nice melody to it while others such as Where Do You Go are a little more heavy in subject matter, although still enlightening to listen to. Many of the short songs on the album are simply forgettable, not that they have any one thing wrong with them. The majority of the second side, for instance, is so horribly overshadowed by its opening track that songs like Don't Try To Change Me and The Remembering (ironically, considering the title) becomes simple tunes that pass through your ears and wander off, forgotten.

Still, there's a couple of absolute killers on here. The longer songs exemplify what The Strawbs do best - take for example the opening title track, Ghosts, which shows Cousins at his scariest with emotional shouting and some killer melodies (''I hope your dreams ~ are not ~ like mine!'' - chilling). Starshine/Angel Wine is another tune that can bring a chill to your spine and a tear to your eye as the Angel Wine section of the song kicks in with Cousins' terrifyingly touching guitar playing comes in with a stellar riff. On the second side, the song guilty of making all the other songs on the side seem obsolete is the malevolent The Life Auction which takes the best parts of the other two songs (sad and scary) and mixes them together with some more excellent folk melodies to make for an impressive opus which leaves a mark on the listener.

Ultimately this is a very good album which has some amazing songs which overshadow a bunch of good ones. The folk melodies should be a draw for most listeners, although if you're not into the folk scene the symphonic tenancies of the longer songs should still have you kicking around. Fans of the band should definitely own this album, new listeners should backtrack to From The Witchwood and start there instead. 3 ghosts out of 5 - good, but not essential.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |


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