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Strawbs - Bursting At The Seams CD (album) cover

BURSTING AT THE SEAMS

Strawbs

 

Prog Folk

3.56 | 141 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SteveG
4 stars The Strawbs took a temporary break from prog, or at least were not as prog focused, on Bursting At The Seams. Still the album has so many typical prog motifs that it almost doesn't matter. The album's first successful single in the UK "Lay Down" could be considered "Benedictus" in a hard rocking mode with Derrick "Blue" Weaver's Mellotron supplying string, organ and choir settings that mix perfectly with both Dave Cousins' electric rhythm guitar and new boy Dave Lambert's smoking leads. With lyrics based on the 23rd psalm and the only hit song to ever feature Mellotron choir, it is far from a typical "pop song" of it's day. Or any day.

But "Lay Down" is the original album's penultimate track, so we have to start at the beginning. Lead off track "Flying" is a dreamy Cousins composition with more of Weaver's Mellotron accompaniment and some good old fashioned banjo from Mr. Cousins, and is a perfect set up for the Hudson and Ford penned masterpiece "Lady Fuschia", which features gorgeous vocal harmonies from Richard Hudson and John Ford and tasteful lead guitar from Lambert. The Cousins' song "Stormy Down" is a mid tempo rocker that doesn't come off well and is one of the album's three weak links. Fortunately, it is followed by the Strawbs' first true prog epic "The River/Down By The Sea" which is truly full blown symphonic prog utilizing real orchestral backing to supplement Weaver's and Lambert's stunning multi tracked piano and guitar riffing on the song's coda, again climaxing with more Mellotron choir from Weaver. The two songs were originally split up and inverted on the original vinyl releases due to the needle jumping if "Down By The Sea" was the album's last track. Subsequent CD reissues have remedied this problem and we can now hear both songs in the proper order in all of their glory.

The sing along hit "Part Of The Union" originally started off side two of the album much like George Harrison's "With In You, Without You" started off side two of Sgt. Pepper's. A weak song that really fit nowhere on the album, so the better to get it done and over with. The mournful "Tears" segues beautifully into the faux Flamenco tinged acoustic and electric guitar based instrumental "Pavan" via Weaver's baroque harpsichord link. Lambert's beautiful rock ballad "The Winter And The Summer" follows before the original album closes with the infectious "Lay Down" and then a throwaway piece featuring what sounds like preschoolers murdering a song that Cousins intended to be a cute album closer titled "Thank You". It's the most embarrassing song I've ever heard recorded by the Strawbs, but with so many wonderful songs on the album, it does little to tarnish it.

The Strawbs would still not produce a 5 star masterpiece of symphonic prog until their following album Hero And Heroine, but Bursting At The Seams is a satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable listen until then.

SteveG | 4/5 |

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