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




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3.75 | 11 ratings

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3 stars Review Nš 620

'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 kingfisher of Halcyon days, in the Greek mythology.

The US version of 'The Very Best Of The Strawbs: Halcyon Days' has thirty-five tracks. From 'Strawbs' we have 'The Man Who Called Himself Jesus', 'Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth' and 'The Battle'. 'Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth?' is a good song with a simple structure. 'The Man Who Called Himself Jesus' is a great song, one of the best moments on that album. 'The Battle' is an epic with the glimpses of their future progressive lines. From 'Dragonfly' we have 'The Weary Song' and 'I Turned My Face Into The Wind'. 'The Weary Song' is a nice typical acoustic folk song. 'I Turned My Face Into The Wind' is a nice simple song with some pastoral feeling, a piano and cello driven song. From 'Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious' we have 'Song Of A Sad Little Girl'. It's a nice song showing the perfect interplay between Rick Wakeman and Dave Cousins on Strawbs. From 'From The Witchwood' we have 'A Glimpse Of Heaven', 'Witchwood', 'Sheep', 'The Shepherd's Song' and 'The Hangman And The Papist'. 'A Glimpse Of Heaven' is a powerful song where the band develops its atmosphere brilliantly. 'Witchwood' is a calm nice song in the style of the medieval and Celtic music with a great pastoral melody. 'Sheep' is a good song made in a psychedelic style. 'The Hangman And The Papist' is a powerful song with dramatic lyrics. 'The Shepherd's Song' is a great song perfectly balanced with excellent keyboards. From 'Grave New World' we have 'Benedictus', 'Queen Of Dreams', 'Heavy Disguise' and 'New World'. 'Benedictus' is well constructed with a nice organ break in the middle. 'Queen Of Dreams' is a song with psychedelic influences and recorded in reverse. 'Heavy Disguise' is short with a great tune and good lyrics. 'New World' is a fantastic song, the most powerful song ever made by them. From 'Bursting At The Seams' we have 'Part Of The Union', 'Tears And Pavan', 'The River', 'Down By The Sea' and 'Lay Down'. 'Part Of The Union' is an amused controversial song due to its lyrics. 'Tears And Pavan' is divided into 'Tears' and 'Pavan'. 'Tears' is sad with some emotional parts and great Mellotron lines and 'Pavan' is a dance tune with twin nice acoustic guitars and a great harpsichord work. 'The River' is a folk melancholic song played in a slow rhythm. 'Down By The Sea' is powerful, very symphonic with a magnificent triumphant choir. 'Lay Down' is a pure rock song, very enjoyable and well sung. From 'Hero And Heroine' we have 'Autumn', 'Hero And Heroine', 'Midnight Sun', 'Out In The Cold' and 'Round And Round'. 'Autumn' is a varied song with great moments and nice choruses. 'Hero And Heroine' is a strong energetic song with great and varied moments. 'Midnight Sun' is a short melodic and beautiful folk ballad. '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. From 'Ghosts' we have 'Ghosts', 'Grace Darling' and 'Lemon Pie'. 'Ghosts' is a gorgeous melodic song with a multiple use of instruments. 'Grace Darling' is a nice piece with great keyboards and a beautiful choral accompaniment. 'Lemon Pie' is a catchy song in their most folk traditional roots. From 'Nomadness' we have 'To Be Free', 'Hanging In The Gallery' and 'The Promised Land'. 'To Be Free' is an energetic hard rock, pleasant and well constructed. 'Hanging In The Gallery' has great lyrics and a nice vocal interpretation. 'The Promised Land' is strong and has powerful keyboards, great guitar, good lyrics and singing.

The US version of this compilation has more four tracks. It has two non-albums tracks of Strawbs, 'Forever' and 'Here It Comes'. Both were only released as singles and appeared as bonus on the remastered versions of 'Dragonfly' and 'Grave New World', respectively. We have also two Cousins' solo tracks 'Two Weeks Last Summer' and 'Blue Angel' that appeared on his first work 'Two Weeks Last Summer'. The last one was later recorded on 'Blue Angel' of Strawbs.

Conclusion: The US version of this compilation album is also good as happened with its UK version. It also 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'. Still, this US version is more focused on the more known Strawbs material. With the exception of four tracks, the two non-albums tracks and the two Cousins' tracks, the rest on it is more conventional material that was taken from their regular studio albums. So, this is probably a better option for those who aren't very familiar with the band's work.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |


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