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Strawbs - 30 Years in Rock, Classic Rock Legends CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.00 | 1 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Given the restrictions placed on what Dave Cousins could choose for inclusion on this disk that was included in the Classic Rock Society magazine back in 2001, it is remarkably well compiled and sequenced. None of the Strawbs A&M era albums from their prime could be sourced, but Cousins shrewdly included alternate versions of songs that became best known during the A&M years, mixed in with some judicious choices from the lesser albums.

As far as the classics go, we have Rick Wakeman's piano solo version of "A Glimpse of Heaven" and a beautiful stripped down version of "Shepherd's Song" with Cousins singing and Wakeman on piano. "Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth" has become best known from the Strawbs "Antiques and Curios" album but the version here from the excellent archive recording "Preserves Uncanned" is far more succinct if less adventurous and lacking Mr Wakeman's virtuosity. To many, the version of "Grace Darling" presented by the early 90s lineup during a live concert eclipsed that which first appeared on "Ghosts" (1975), substituting Brian Willoughby's guitar licks for the Charterhouse School choir, and stretching it into epic length consistent with its heroic theme. Speaking of heroism, the live version of "Hero and Heroine" simply crackles with the fiddle of Ric Sanders.

From the later years we have one of Cousins greatest songs in its original glory, "Simple Visions", and the beautiful instrumental "Tina dei Fada", written by Richard Hudson for the 1987 "Don't Say Goodbye" album. Cousins and Willoughby paired for the touching tribute to Sandy Denny "Ringing Down the Years", while the 1991 album of the same name is represented by a very proggy version of "Tell me What you see in me" which dates to the late 1960s. Confused now I assume?

The album does contain some duds, like the misguided attempt at machismo of "Something for Nothing" which appeared on Heartbreak Hill, recorded in 1979 and first released in 1995, and a self pitying attack at critics, "Alexander the Great", originally from "Burning for You", from which a half dozen better and more timeless pieces could have been chosen.

This is a pretty good snapshot of what Strawbs had been up to from the late 1960s to the early 2000s, and also became a springboard for new releases like the Cousins and Wakeman albums, and the "Blue Angel" repackaging of the Cousins and Willoughby "Bridge" album. While it's not likely you will like everything here, if you are into classy folk prog of the English variety, you are bound to find much to love in this historical document.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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