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British folk rock

Studio Albums

Strawbs (1969)

Dragonfly (1970)

From the Witchwood (1971)

Grave New World (1972)

Bursting at the Seams (1973)

Hero and Heroine (1974)

Ghosts (1974)

Nomadness (1975)

Deep Cuts (1976)

Burning to You (1977)


Live Albums


Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios (1970)

NY 75 (2007)




The Strawbs


From the Witchwood  - 5

A Glimpse of Heaven/ Witchwood/ Thirty Days/ Flight/ The Hangman and the Papist/ Sheep/ Canon Dale/ The Shepherd's Song/ In Amongst the Roses/ I'll Carry on Beside You

This was something of a transitional period for the Strawbs and represented their first studio album. The feel is of a band not really together and struggling with its identity, unsure whether to tread the boards of pure folk music or to turn into a folk-rock band, which they thankfully went on to do very successfully. Today the band perhaps value the songs from this album slightly more - as many are included in their current set. Dave Cousins is as dramatic as ever on Glimpse of Heaven and The Hangman and the Papist. It was a pre-cursor of better things to come and should be viewed and listened to as such. If you do that there is plenty of merit here.


Grave New World -  9

Benedictus/ Hey Little Man ... Thursday's Child/ Queen of Dreams/ Heavy Disguise/ New World/ Hey Little Man ... Wednesday's Child/ The Flower and the Young Man/ Tomorrow/ On Growing Older/ Ah Me, Ah My/ Is it Today Lord?/ The Journey's End

The Strawbs entered a golden period with one of my favourite all time albums that showed they could mix stark realism and powerful melodic music with whimsy. In parts this is one of the bleakest albums I have ever heard. Then there are some deliciously lighter moments. Vocally Dave Cousins had found his niche. Songs like Benedictus and New World are stark and desolate and Queen of Dreams played havoc on my ears when I first listened to it on headphones and was the track I always played to test out new stereos or speakers. Amongst all the angst and even bitterness Tony Hooper manages to conjure up a piece of vaudeville with Ah Me, Ah My. This was a band capable of writing stunning material that held the listener enthralled whilst at the same time showing that they were still developing. On the previous album this mix didn't quite work, here it did totally. For me it conjures up memories of a time and place, just where I wanted to be and still, all these years later, amazes me with its powerful music and lyricism.


Bursting at the Seams - 8

Flying/ Lady Fuchsia/ Stormy Down/ Down by the Sea/ The River/ Part of the Union/ Tears and Pavan/ The Winter and the Summer/ Lay Down/ Thank You

Another wonderful atmospheric album to follow the brilliance of Grave New World. This album was full of powerful vocals from Dave Cousins and musical excellence. It included some of the band's strongest material and one of their greatest achievements with Tears and Pavan, a true fusion of rock and classical. Dave Lambert joined the band to bring a stronger rock element and the band survived despite allegations that they had forsaken their folk roots for a more progressive rock sound. Ironically Bursting at the Seams contained their most successful single - Part of the Union - a pretty dire singalong written by Hudson and Ford and totally unrepresentative of the band's material. The album showed the band to be emerging as original stylists and, although not having the power or feel of Grave New World, it proved to be more accessible to many fans, reaching number two in the UK album charts, compared with the previous albums high point of number 11.


Hero and Heroine - 7

Autumn/ Sad Young Man/ Just Love/ Shine on Silver Sun/ Hero and Heroine/ Midnight Sun/ Out in the Cold/ Round and Round/ Lay a Little Light on Me/ Hero's Theme

The band virtually split in two after Bursting at the Seam with only Cousins and Lambert remaining. This heralded a more progressive feel as shown on the opening track Autumn which is sub divided into three sections - Heroine's Theme, Deep Summer Sleep and The Winter Long - and provided one of the band's most outstanding pieces of music that veered from swirling mellotron to acoustic folk and singalong choruses that at this time epitomised the band's work. Lambert brought a harsher more solid guitar base to the band. It can be argued that by Hero and Heroine the band had changed out of all recognition. Whether this was a good or bad thing is debatable. I have always enjoyed this period with Lambert's vocals acting as a foil for Cousins. There's a solide beat to most of the other songs which at times hit and at times fall just short of the mark.


NY 75 - Released 2007 - 6.5

I have loved the Strawbs since Grave New World was first released way back in the 1970s. They are still touring and I've seen them three times in the past few years. They are as good as ever and testimony that if you love and believe in your music you can still make it sound fresh. Strawbs fans have been very lucky in the past few years with the release of numerous live and compilation albums and it's interesting to see this release of a 1975 concert some 32 years later. You could say that nothing has changed. They are still doing this material in concert either in their electric re-incarnation or as the acoustic band. Dave Cousins voice has scarcely changed over the three decades. Sometimes I feel it gets rather twisted and over-dramatic but that's the nature of the beast. As a record of the band this is a decent one - all the best material is here and the atmosphere is reasonable. A decent addition to the Strawbs collectors catalogue although I doubt that it will add any new devotees to the Strawbs' fan base.