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Strawbs - From The Witchwood CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.03 | 293 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars A glimpse of heaven indeed

"From the Witchwood" marked the start of the Strawbs transition in earnest from a primarily acoustic folk based band, to a prog rock orientated band with strong folk influences.

The album represents Rick Wakeman's last venture with the Strawbs, before he was headhunted by Yes. In retrospect, his keyboard skills whilst apparent, were somewhat suppressed in the Strawbs, with only brief displays of his virtuosity such as those on "Sheep" and "Glimpse of heaven". It was perhaps inevitable that when the opportunity arose, he would move on to a band where he would be afforded more room to exercise his skills. Rick Wakeman and Dave Cousins have however remained firm friends, collaborating more recently on the Strawbs flavoured "Hummingbird" album.

Wakeman does manage to add some wonderfully dramatic effects to "From the Witchwood", particularly with the menacing organ on "The hangman and the papist". The song is an incredibly powerful story of a hangman finding his next victim is to be his brother, who is to be punished for his religious beliefs. You can almost touch the raw emotion as Dave Cousins sings "forgive me God we hang him in thy name".

The opening track, "A Glimpse of heaven" has a hymnal quality to it, with church like organ and choir like vocals on the choruses. The brief keyboard solo has some effective phasing, something of a forgotten art these days.

The band's folk influences come to the fore on tracks such as "Witchwood", and "In amongst the roses", while "Cannondale" and "The shepherd's song" have a deeper, more haunting structure. "Sheep" is an out and out rocker, with a great if brief organ solo by Wakeman, leading into a reflective ending. Surely one of the only songs ever written about an abattoir?

The closing track "I'll carry on beside you" is a great sing-a-long, which especially lends itself to participation after a few beers!

In all, superb album, which finds the band exploring new pastures and starting their migration to a major prog folk band. Well worth seeking out.

Easy Livin | 5/5 |


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