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Strawbs - Dancing To The Devil's Beat CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.30 | 45 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Another glimpse of heaven

"Dancing to the devil's beat" is the Strawbs (or just Strawbs) most recent album at time of writing. For a band which has been around so long, it really is astonishing that they continue to release albums on a regular basis, and that those albums continue to be of such a high quality. The line up has of course changed often in the intervening period, with Dave Cousins always being the common denominator. Here we have Cousin's long time friend Dave Lambert once again joining him, together with Strawbs stalwarts Chas Cronk and Rod Coombes. Rick's son Oliver Wakeman plays keyboards, Rick himself of course being a member of the band in their very early days.

This is very much an electric Strawbs outing, the first two tracks being admirably powerful with surging lead guitar and emotive choruses. "Copenhagen" slows things down though, Cousins demonstrating that he can still deliver sensitive vocals as well as he always did. The track took me back to around the time of "Hero and heroine" the violin of guest Ian Cutler being an added bonus.

The three part "Pro Patria Suite" tells a simple tale about two friends going off to war. The suite is structured in a similar way to "Autumn" and "Ghosts", the three parts blending well together to form a delightful whole. Although not part of the suite, the following "Where Silent Shadows Fall" feels like a natural coda. The track follows on both lyrically and musically, the reflective melody cumulating in a fine cornet led conclusion.

The intriguingly titled "The Man Who Would Never Leave Grimsby" is written and sung by Dave Lambert. The song is essentially about a musician who foregoes fame and fortune to remain in his home-town, but is reportedly also based around the story of a young Kenyian Strawbs fan's loyalty to his family.

"The Ballad of Jay and Rose Mary" paints a film noire picture, but the soft shuffle on which the track is based is out of placed here, and the song a misfit on the album. The title track is the most rock orientated of the set, Cousins doing all he can to keep up with the pounding rhythm. By no means the most subtle track on the album, but it makes for a nice contrast with the lyrically heavier material. Wakeman slips in a nice organ solo too.

The album closes with an updated rendition of the old Strawbs song "Oh how she changed" which way back then was their first ever single. Tony Hooper is not here to sing it this time, but Dave Lambert's take on it is excellent

In all, another superb album from the Strawbs, which finds them as creative as they ever were.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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