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Strawbs - Bursting At The Seams CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.59 | 199 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Caught short on Stormy Down

With Tony Hooper departed, and Dave Lambert on board the last of the Strawbs traditional folk influences (excepting Cousins of course) had gone.

This was album which broke the Strawbs to the masses, containing as it did, 2 hit singles. "Lay down" is a good burst of Dave Cousins at his most commercial, a light but enjoyable sing along. The less said about the pop song "Part of the union" the better. It was admittedly a massive hit single, but it misrepresented what the Strawbs were all about, the band were I trust embarrassed all the way to the bank! In defence of Dave Cousins, the song was really a Hudson Ford track, the rest of the band appearing to have little to do with it performance wise. Lyrically the track was quite satirical, taking a swipe at the power of the trade unions in the UK. It was completely misunderstood by many union activists, who adopted it as their anthem (a bit like the way Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" was completely misunderstood by some).

These two tracks aside, there is a lot of excellent stuff on the album. The opening two tracks, "Flying" and "Lady Fuschia" are both melodic and well structured, "Flying" having several contrasting sections.

"Down by the sea" is as close as the band came to symphonic prog, complete with an infectious chiming guitar theme, with an orchestral backing. The following track, "The river" features one of Cousins occasional divergences into "adult" themes, which he always seems to approach with schoolboy fascination, great track though. When performed live, the band always reverse the order of these tracks, the climax to "The river" giving way to the wonderful guitar theme of "Down by the sea". In doing so, the tracks effectively become a wonderful 10 minute two part piece.

"Tears and Pavan" is two distinct songs, which merge into a single piece rather beautifully. The echoed vocal refrain on the first section and mellotron backing make for a pleasantly emotional feel, while "Pavan" provides an Elizabethan harpsichord link to a slightly more upbeat latter half.

Whether this line up with Lambert or the previous one with Hooper which recorded "Grave New World" (or indeed the one with Rick Wakeman which made "From the Witchwood") represents the "classic" Strawbs line up, will always be a source of debate. We should therefore satisfy ourselves with the thought that though band members came and went, the Strawbs made many classic albums.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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