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Strawbs - Concert Classics CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

2.36 | 11 ratings

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2 stars This live artifact dating to the 11th hour of STRAWBS' middling commercial reign was available in several forms as a bootleg called "Live in London", in which "Lay Down" was the opening number, and even another called "Live in America", in which it wasn't. To the best of my knowledge, the concert was taken from an appearance on BBC Radio One "Sight and Sound" in February 1978, the same performance that has been cleaned up and presented on DVD as a bonus to a 2019 re-release of "Deadlines" on Esoteric. This makes sense since that doomed release was the one being promoted at the time. Still, if you don't need the visuals, "Lay Down" and apparently "Sealed with a Traitor's Kiss", and don't want to fork over the $25+ USD that it's fetching, this budget release can be a low-fi stand-in, and appears to be available on streaming sites.

First of all, the sound quality is rough and ready, and the song selection favors the backsliding years of the late 1970s, so this probably shouldn't be the first live momentoe of the group you sample. But that same weakness is also a strength, as there simply aren't any other performances from that era available at this time. More so, by this time Andy Richards had already taken over from the duo of Robert Kirby and John Mealing on keyboards and his style is distinctive if not a tad overbearing. That means versions of rockers "Cut Like a Diamond", "Heartbreaker", and "Last Resort" rule the day here, while classic mid tempo track "Simple Visions" is spirited. The album does close with a few "Hero and Heroine" standards, the title track being absolutely crackling. Unfortunately, "Ghosts" is a little too off kilter or out of tune even for the live setting, and "No Return" is by far the weakest number here, with little to redeem it.

All told, "Concert Classics" is mostly one for the fans, and, at this point, specifically those who might want to sample it before deciding to splurge for the DVD as part of "Deadlines", thus rendering their prior versions of that album obsolete. 2.5 stars rounded down.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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