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Strawbs - Halcyon Days  (UK Release)  CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.52 | 21 ratings

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3 stars Review Nš 614

"The Very Best Of The Strawbs: Halcyon Days" is a compilation album of the English progressive rock band Strawbs that was release in 1997. The compilation was released as a 2 CD set in the UK and US in 1997 and 1998, respectively. However, the US release has a slightly different title, "The Very Best Of Strawbs: Halcyon Days ? The A & M Years" and a slightly different track listing too. About half of the tracks that appear in both versions are common to the UK and US versions. Although credited to Strawbs the UK version does contain three Hudson Ford tracks and a Dave Cousins solo track and the US version does also contain a Dave Cousins solo track. The cover image of both versions is very similar with a common kingfisher, which is a reference to the mythical kingsfisher of Halcyon days, in the Greek mythology.

The UK version of "The Very Best Of The Strawbs: Halcyon Days" has thirty-six tracks. From "Strawbs" we have "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus", "Oh, How She Changed", "The Battle" and "Tell Me What You See In Me". "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus" is an excellent song, one of the best moments on that album. "Oh How She Changed" is a short beautiful song. "The Battle" is an epic with the glimpses of their future progressive lines, the highest point on their debut. "Tell Me What You See In Me" is a nice song with an oriental flavour. From "Dragonfly" we have "I Turned My Face Into The Wind". It's a nice simple song with some pastoral feeling, basically a piano and cello driven song. From "Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious" we have "Martin Luther King's Dream". It's a nice song, a kind of a folk troubadour epic with a good rhythm section and organ. From "From The Witchwood" we have "Witchwood", "The Hangman And The Papist" and "The Shepherd's Song". "Witchwood" is a calm and beautiful song in the style of the medieval and Celtic music with a wonderful pastoral melody. "The Hangman And The Papist" is a powerful song with dramatic lyrics, the strongest and most progressive on that album. "The Shepherd's Song" is another great song, a song perfectly balanced and with excellent keyboard performance. From "Grave New World" we have "On Growing Older", "Queen Of Dreams" and "Benedictus". "On Growing Older" is a short cool folk acoustic song that sounds as an old English song of the 60's. "Queen Of Dreams" is an ambitious song with psychedelic influences with its beats recorded in reverse. "Benedictus" is a well constructed song with a delightful organ break in the middle. From "Bursting At The Seams" we have "Stormy Down", "Lay Down", "Part Of The Union", "The River" and "Down By The Sea". "Stormy Down" is a mix of rock, folk and country and is performed in a ballad style. "Lay Down" is a nice strong pure rock song, very enjoyable, well sung, with lots of Mellotron and a good guitar solo. "Part Of The Union" is an amused song very controversial due to its lyrics. "The River" is basically a folk song, played in a slow rhythm, which gradually develops into a melancholic track. "Down By The Sea" is a powerful song, very symphonic and with a magnificent triumphant choir. From "Hero And Heroine" we have "Hero And Heroine", "Out In The Cold", "Round And Round" and "Shine On Silver Sun". "Hero And Heroine" is a strong energetic song, with great musical moments and a variety of instrumental choruses. "Out In The Cold" is a good song with intricate guitar work, good harmonica and nice drumming. "Round And Round" is a very progressive song with a beautiful and brilliant keyboard work by John Hawken. "Shine On Silver Sun" is a typical classic song of them with nice vocal harmonies, good Mellotron work and a catchy piano harmony. From "Ghosts" we have "Ghosts" and "Grace Darling". "Ghosts" is a gorgeous melodic song with multiple musical instruments such as harpsichord, acoustic guitars and church bells. "Grace Darling" is a beautiful piece with fantastic keyboards and a beautiful majestic choral accompaniment. From "Nomadness" we have "The Golden Salamander", "Tokyo Rosie" and "Absent Friend (How I Need You)". "The Golden Salamander" is an excellent song in the traditional vein of the great songs of the band. "Tokyo Rosie" is a vulgar commercial song but it's pleasant enough to be heard. "Absent Friend (How I Need You)" is a good song, but it's a bit strange and bizarre too.

The compilation has also more ten songs, six non albums tracks "Let's Keep The Devil Outside", "Back Side", "Here It Comes", "We'll Meet Again Sometime", "Why And Wherefore" and "Will Ye Go?", a Cousins song "Blue Angel" also recorded on Strawbs' album "Blue Angel" and three Hudson Ford songs "Pick Up The Pieces", "Burn Baby Burn" and "Floating In The Wind". These songs are also good and a nice reason for people can decide to buy this compilation.

Conclusion: We can say that "The Very Best Of The Strawbs: Halcyon Days" is a good compilation album of Strawbs. It covers the career of the band from 1969 to 1975 that belong to their first nine studio albums with the exception of "All Our Own Work". So, some of their best tracks are included here making of it a nice showcase for those who aren't familiar with the band. Besides that, it has also six tracks from the band that only appeared as singles or bonus tracks on the re-mastered versions of the albums. It has also three rarities, the tracks that belong to Hudson Ford's career.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |


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