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STRAWBS

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Strawbs biography
One of the better British progressive groups, The STRAWBS were a 60's folk and medieval band turned prog-rock with the help of Dave COUSINS (the heart and soul of this group) and Rick WAKEMAN "master of the keyboards". WAKEMAN is featured on the albums "Strawbs", "Dragonfly", "Just A Collection of...", and "From The Witchwood" before he joined YES. The line-up for the group changed markedly over the years. Their sound has been in a state of constant evolution combining English folk and progressive sounds to form their unique style. Critics seem to have a preference for the STRAWBS in the early Seventies when the group consisted of Tony & John HOOPER, John FORD, Richard HUDSON and keyboard virtuoso Rick WAKEMAN. The group ceased to exist at the end of the 1970s, and COUSINS embarked on some solo projects. STRAWBS would appeal to fans of bands like FAIRPORT CONVENTION, STEELEYE SPAN, PENTANGLE, etc.

They have recorded over 15 albums through the years, with various lineups around the core of Dave COUSINS who offered beautiful melodic compositions. Every STRAWBS album between "Witchwood" and "Nomadness" has something unique to offer. A perfect introduction to the sound of The STRAWBS is the compilation-CD "A Choice of Strawbs" (16 tracks). It features all their best material from their most creative and "symphonic" period (between '71 and '74). The music of The STRAWBS frequently ranges from folky (acoustic guitars) and classic (piano and harpsichord) to bombastic, symphonic rock (fiery electric guitar and glorious Mellotron in the vein of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST and The MOODY BLUES). The vocals are powerful with a lot of expression. Another great introduction to The STRAWBS is their live CD entitled "In concert" with BBC recordings from '73 and '74, including compelling renditions of their best works. The lush Mellotron sound evokes every time goose bumps on my skin!

1971 - "From The Witchwood" was a release that represented the transitional phase and search for their definitive sound and style.
1972 - "Grave New World" was their first symphonic album, and remained their finest moments, with great songwriting, great arrangements and superb performance all-round. This is a GREAT ALBUM!
1973 - "Bursting at the Seams" was the break through album for the STRAWBS because it marked the last major transformation of the group.
1974 - "Hero & Heroine" showed that a classical sensibility can be combined with rock music and make for wonderful list...
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Buy STRAWBS Music


The Ferryman's CurseThe Ferryman's Curse
Import
Esoteric/Antenna 2017
Audio CD$13.99
Hero & HeroineHero & Heroine
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$4.92
$9.95 (used)
Live In GettysburgLive In Gettysburg
WITCHWOOD MEDIA 2017
Audio CD$12.39
$12.97 (used)
Grave New WorldGrave New World
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$4.85
$3.45 (used)
GhostsGhosts
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 1998
Audio CD$4.85
$7.27 (used)
Lay Down WithLay Down With
Import
Secret Records 2011
Audio CD$8.62
$8.62 (used)
StrawbsStrawbs
Import
Imports 2008
Audio CD$15.00
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Gordon Giltrap & Rick Wakeman - From Brush & Stone CD 2009 YES ACCOLADE STRAWBS USD $7.91 Buy It Now 1h 53m
The Strawbs (+ Break & Crane) - Manchester Free Trade Hall - 1971 Flyer USD $6.59 [0 bids]
2h 25m
Strawbs - Witchwood The Very Best Of [CD] USD $6.23 Buy It Now 2h 42m
STRAWBS - BURSTING AT THE SEAMS ORIGINAL VINYL LP USD $2.64 [0 bids]
2h 43m
STRAWBS - Hero Heroine Remastered - CD - Original Recording Remastered Extra NEW USD $18.95 Buy It Now 3h
The Strawbs - Deep Cuts - Released 1976 - OY-1-1603 USD $1.99 [0 bids]
3h 10m
STRAWBS "BURNING FOR YOU" VINYL LP RECORD ALBUM (1977) USD $1.99 [0 bids]
3h 10m
STRAWBS "BURSTING AT THE SEAMS" '73 EX COND USD $1.99 [0 bids]
3h 10m
Strawbs/Part Of The Union/1973 7" Single Excellent Condition USD $2.64 [0 bids]
4h
STRAWBS ~ JAPAN MINI LP CD, 6 ALBUMS, ORIGINAL, ULTRA RARE, OOP USD $192.00 Buy It Now 4h 53m
The Strawbs - Of a Time (2012) USD $5.94 [0 bids]
4h 56m
(LP) STRAWBS - Strawbs / AMLS 936 / Gatefold / VG+/VG+ / Dave Cousins AUTO / UK USD $49.99 Buy It Now 5h 38m
10 LP TODD RUNDGREEN-DEEP PURPLE-STRAWBS-PROCOL HARUM-RARE EARTH-SLICK-KANTNER USD $24.00 [0 bids]
7h 51m
STRAWBS From the Witchwood D32Y3578 CD JAPAN 1987 OBI USD $95.01 Buy It Now 7h 59m
Strawbs tour programme Suffolk & Good Festival UK TOUR PROGRAMME NETHERGATE USD $38.22 Buy It Now 8h 27m
Strawbs Tour Programme 2000 UK tour programme TOUR PROGRAMME STRAWBSWEB USD $25.02 Buy It Now 8h 27m
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STRAWBS-BURNING FOR YOU-JAPAN MINI LP CD BONUS TRACK Fi83 USD $27.50 Buy It Now 12h 55m
SANDY DENNY & STRAWBS-ALL OUR OWN WORK-JAPAN MINI LP CD BONUS TRACK Fi83 USD $27.50 Buy It Now 13h 2m
STRAWBS-DEADLINES-JAPAN MINI LP CD BONUS TRACK Fi83 USD $27.50 Buy It Now 13h 6m
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STRAWBS "Burning For You" LP VG+ ORIG 1977 OY11604 Hard Rock Vinyl Record USD $7.00 Buy It Now 15h 36m
Strawbs Lay Down 7" A&M AMS7035 EX 1972 b-side by Ciggy Barlust & The Whales Fro USD $9.90 Buy It Now 17h 46m
THE STRAWBS - BURSTING AT THE SEAMS - ORIG. 1973 UK ISSUE - A USD $5.27 [0 bids]
17h 58m
THE STRAWBS - FROM THE WITCHWOOD - ORIG. 1971 UK GATEFOLD SLEEVE ISSUE - A USD $6.59 [0 bids]
17h 58m
The Strawbs - From the Witchwood - Vinyl LP USD $26.39 [0 bids]
18h 7m
Strawbs-Live In Gettysburg (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $17.30 Buy It Now 18h 24m
STRAWBS-STRAWBERRY MUSIC SAMPLER NO.1-JAPAN MINI LP CD Fi56 USD $26.50 Buy It Now 18h 44m
THE STRAWBS burning for you to 391 287 A2/B early press uk oyster LP USD $11.87 Buy It Now 19h 7m
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CD Box Set: Hudson Ford : The A&M Albums : 3 CDs Sealed : Strawbs USD $23.01 [0 bids]
19h 34m
THE STRAWBS New Sealed 2017 THE FERRYMANS CURSE CD USD $20.99 Buy It Now 19h 44m
The Strawbs - Lay Down 7" - AMS 7035 - Ex USD $4.61 Buy It Now 20h 3m
Rick Wakeman - No Earthly Connection - AMLK 64583 - Yes, Strawbs - VG USD $10.55 Buy It Now 21h
The Strawbs - Witchwood (The Very Best Of, 2014) USD $5.27 Buy It Now 21h 40m
STRAWBS GRAVE NEW WORLD ORIGINAL LP USD $30.30 Buy It Now 21h 40m
STRAWBS - DEEP CUTS press clipping 1976 30x40cm (18/09/76) USD $5.27 Buy It Now 21h 43m
STRAWBS press clipping 1973 USD $5.27 Buy It Now 21h 43m
STRAWBS / J GEILS press clipping 1972 approx 9x6cm (30/12/72) USD $5.27 Buy It Now 21h 43m
STRAWBS press clipping 1973 * USD $5.27 Buy It Now 21h 43m
STRAWBS - BURNING FOR YOU large press clipping 1977 30x40cm (16/7/1977) USD $5.27 Buy It Now 21h 43m
STRAWBS / ELTON JOHN / COUNTRY JOE McDONALD press clipping 1973 USD $5.27 Buy It Now 21h 43m
THE STRAWBS - Part Of The Union - Classic 1973 UK 2-track 7" Vinyl Single USD $11.87 Buy It Now 21h 56m
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STRAWBS - STRAWBERRY MUSIC SAMPLER No.1 2013 JAPAN MINI LP CD USD $26.39 Buy It Now 23h 16m
SANDY DENNY & THE STRAWBS - ALL OUR OWN WORK 2013 JAPAN MINI LP CD USD $26.39 Buy It Now 23h 16m
Strawbs Bursting At The Seams Rare 1973 A2/B2 1st UK A & M Mustard AMLH 68144 USD $5.27 Buy It Now 23h 33m
Strawbs Burning For You Oyster Polydor LP 1604 USD $6.30 Buy It Now 23h 55m
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THE STRAWBS - DRAGONFLY [BONUS TRACKS] NEW CD USD $10.73 Buy It Now 1 day
8 TRACK TAPE STRAWBS FROM THE WITCHWOOD USD $5.27 [0 bids]
1 day
NY 75 by Strawbs USD $10.94 Buy It Now 1 day
Of A Time by Strawbs USD $12.40 Buy It Now 1 day
THE STRAWBS grave new world LP AMLH 68078 1st uk with lyric booklet 1972 Played USD $15.83 [0 bids]
1 day
STRAWBS burning for you LP Record 1977 RARE USD $17.50 Buy It Now 1 day
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Paul Brett (Strawbs) Earth Birth Original 1977 UK RCA LP USD $10.56 Buy It Now 1 day
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Paul Brett (Strawbs) Eclipse 1979 RCA UK Unplayed LP USD $10.56 Buy It Now 1 day
Strawbs / Painted Sky (Witchwood) - Strawbs - Audio CD USD $65.95 Buy It Now 1 day
Rick Wakeman White Rock Mini LP CD JAPAN UICY-9296 / Strawbs Yes USD $9.99 [1 bids]
1 day
The Strawbs First Album 1969 A&M UK A-1 T/ B-1 T Stunning Archive/ Top Copy! USD $325.00 Buy It Now 1 day
Strawbs : Ny 75 Live At The Calderone CD USD $5.99 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS 7" VINYL C/S HOLD ON TO ME (THE WINTER LONG) AMS 7117 1974 EX " USD $7.86 Buy It Now 1 day
LP STRAWBS DEEP CUTS 1976 OYSTER SEALED MINT USD $29.98 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS - "Shine On Silver Sun" 7" UK Vinyl Single 45rpm 1973 A&M VG USD $3.95 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS ?- Bursting At The Seams (LP) (VG-EX/G-VG) USD $14.51 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS LP:GRAVE NEW WORLD, 1972 A USD $11.87 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS ?- From The Witchwood (LP) (VG+/VG) USD $69.96 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS ?- Hero And Heroine (LP) (EX-/G++) USD $15.83 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS FROM THE WITCHWOOD 1971 JAPAN 11 +++++ CD OBI 3200yen D32Y 1ST PRESS USD $79.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Strawbs - Of A Time (NEW CD) USD $16.82 Buy It Now 1 day
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STRAWBS NOMADNESS 1976 UNIQUE LABEL EXYUGO LP USD $13.74 Buy It Now 1 day
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The Strawbs - Halcyon Days - The Very Best Of (2CD 1997) NEW/SEALED USD $13.18 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS Round And Round / Heroine's Theme rare promo 45 from 1974 USD $9.99 Buy It Now 1 day
1975 A&M Records SP-4506 Strawbs "Ghosts" USD $9.00 Buy It Now 1 day
STRAWBS Grave New World 1972 (Vinyl LP) PLUS 7" SINGLE RECORD USD $10.50 Buy It Now 1 day
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STRAWBS, The Best of Strawbs, 2 LP'S, 1978 A&M USD $9.95 Buy It Now 2 days
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STRAWBS RECORD, DEEP CUTS USD $5.00 Buy It Now 2 days
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ODYSSEY ALTEC - LP WAKEMAN STRAWBS ARMATRADING DENNY USD $5.00 Buy It Now 2 days
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Hudson Ford LP Free Spirit Very Clean 1974 Psych Rock Orig! Strawbs USD $19.99 Buy It Now 2 days
Strawbs ?- Dragonfly ?- (A&M Records ?- AMLS 970) USD $25.07 [0 bids]
2 days
THE STRAWBS Part Of The Union / Will You Go Scandinavian 45PS 1973 USD $15.61 Buy It Now 2 days
Strawbs - Ghosts (A&M 4506) (Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert) ('75) USD $14.99 Buy It Now 2 days

More places to buy STRAWBS music online Buy STRAWBS & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
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STRAWBS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

STRAWBS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.09 | 73 ratings
Strawbs
1969
3.13 | 86 ratings
Dragonfly
1970
4.02 | 212 ratings
From The Witchwood
1971
4.15 | 292 ratings
Grave New World
1972
3.56 | 147 ratings
Bursting At The Seams
1973
2.75 | 27 ratings
Sandy Denny And The Strawbs: All Our Own Work
1973
4.16 | 285 ratings
Hero And Heroine
1974
4.03 | 155 ratings
Ghosts
1975
2.53 | 69 ratings
Nomadness
1975
2.75 | 63 ratings
Deep Cuts
1976
2.55 | 51 ratings
Burning For You
1977
2.86 | 43 ratings
Deadlines
1978
2.99 | 29 ratings
Don't Say Goodbye
1987
2.69 | 21 ratings
Ringing Down The Years
1991
2.73 | 33 ratings
Heartbreak Hill [Aka: Starting Over]
1995
3.54 | 22 ratings
Acoustic Strawbs: Baroque & Roll
2001
2.78 | 29 ratings
Blue Angel
2003
3.13 | 29 ratings
Déjà Fou
2004
3.50 | 42 ratings
The Broken Hearted Bride
2008
3.25 | 33 ratings
Dancing To The Devil's Beat
2009
3.60 | 31 ratings
Hero & Heroine In Ascencia
2011
2.67 | 24 ratings
Prognostic
2014
3.74 | 7 ratings
The Ferryman's Curse
2017

STRAWBS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.72 | 69 ratings
Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios
1970
2.36 | 9 ratings
The Strawbs' Greatest Hits Live
1993
3.69 | 14 ratings
BBC in concert
1995
2.49 | 10 ratings
Concert Classics
1999
3.39 | 5 ratings
The Complete Strawbs (Chiswick '98 Live)
2000
2.44 | 4 ratings
Full Bloom, Acoustic Strawbs Live
2004
3.68 | 9 ratings
Live At Nearfest
2005
3.84 | 15 ratings
Painted Sky
2005
3.70 | 5 ratings
Recollection
2006
3.09 | 4 ratings
NY '75
2007
4.92 | 3 ratings
40th Anniversary Celebration: Vol 1: Strawberry Fayre
2010
3.18 | 2 ratings
40th Anniversary Celebration Vol. 2: Rick Wakeman and Dave Cousins
2010
4.00 | 4 ratings
Live At The BBC Vol Two: In Concert
2010
3.15 | 4 ratings
Live At The BBC Vol One: In Session
2010
4.00 | 1 ratings
Live In Gettysburg
2017

STRAWBS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.11 | 6 ratings
Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
1998
4.00 | 8 ratings
Strawbs Live In Tokyo '75 / Grave New World The Movie
2003
4.08 | 4 ratings
Acoustic Live In Toronto At Hugh's Room
2004
3.00 | 3 ratings
Lay Down With The Strawbs (DVD)
2008

STRAWBS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.44 | 7 ratings
Strawbs by Choice
1974
2.52 | 6 ratings
Early Strawbs
1974
3.78 | 10 ratings
Classic Strawbs
1977
3.78 | 13 ratings
The Best of Strawbs
1978
2.66 | 8 ratings
Preserved Uncanned
1990
3.52 | 17 ratings
A Choice Selection of Strawbs
1992
3.61 | 17 ratings
Halcyon Days (UK Release)
1997
3.97 | 13 ratings
Halcyon Days (US Release)
1998
3.00 | 1 ratings
30 Years in Rock, Classic Rock Legends
2001
2.81 | 6 ratings
The Collection
2002
4.41 | 4 ratings
Tears And Pavan (An Introduction To Strawbs)
2002
3.21 | 5 ratings
20th Century Masters - Millenium Collection
2003
4.23 | 12 ratings
A Taste of Strawbs
2006
4.13 | 6 ratings
Acoustic Gold
2011
2.00 | 1 ratings
Of a Time
2012
3.95 | 3 ratings
Witchwood: the Very Best of....
2014

STRAWBS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.38 | 7 ratings
Strawberry Sampler number 1
1969

STRAWBS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Ferryman's Curse by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.74 | 7 ratings

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The Ferryman's Curse
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars The hourglass is emptying for veteran bands like STRAWBS and their small but ardent following. Each much anticipated release is coddled with the understanding that it may be their last, and a glance at the titles and lyrics of "The Ferryman's Curse" concedes nothing so much as a pious man contemplating his worldly past and his otherworldly future. It might not be the coda for Dave Cousins and company, but it is certainly compiled with an appreciation of that prospect.

A bit of background would be helpful. Strawbs enjoyed some level of commercial success in two forms in the 1970s: as an earnest prog folk band cum pop stars in the UK ("Grave New World" and "Bursting at the Seams"), and, with a 60% lineup change, as a symphonic prog band with folk underpinnings in the US ("Hero and Heroine" and "Ghosts"). The band never completely eschewed conventional song structures even at their most adventurous, but have been able to straddle the boundaries of their various genres. In recent years it's the members of the later incarnation that have been recording and touring, meaning Dave Lambert (guitars) and Chas Cronk (bass) are in the fold, augmented by Tony Fernandez (drums) who was with the group during the late 1970s and Dave Bainbridge (keyboards) of prog folk band IONA. Bainbridge has writing credits on 5 of the 10 tracks, including two instrumentals, and exerts considerable influence on his Strawbs studio debut, as does returning superstar producer Chris Tsangarides, who manages to equalize the highs and lows of Cousins' septuagenarian vocal chords. They remain an acquired taste in their CAT STEVENS meets PETER GABRIEL and FISH mode. I'm glad I acquired it years ago.

The first instrumental, "From the Beginning" offers a contemplative introduction to the album, with piano and orchestral strings eventually bolstered by drums and organ. As it segues directly into "The Nails from the Hands of Christ", we begin with just a hypnotic beat that recalls nothing more than the PET SHOP BOYS' hit from 1984, "West End Girls". The lyrics and vocals are classic Cousins though, and his sense of humor is intact, particularly when the gift shop manager tells the protagonist that the nails are "kosher", and when he comments that the nails were rusty and bent, "as if to make a point". Lead and rhythm guitar suffuse additional drama, as does mellotron choir in the theatrical buildup. Speaking of mellotron, I suspect they are using samples rather than an actual flesh and blood beast, but they are as welcome as the album.

In the tradition of sedate somewhat morose ballads of the past (Barcarole from "Burning for You", Sealed with a Traitor's Kiss" from "Deadlines", and "Copenhagen" from "Dancing to the Devil's Beat" all come to mind), "The Song of Infinite Sadness" downshifts for the duration. A bit too funereal for me, it does sound better with time, and, again, the lyrics are typically insightful. This wisdom is again evident on "The Familarity of Old Lovers", one of my 2 favourites. The delivery is a touch playful if resigned, and the lead guitar figure is succinct and addictive. The outtro involves both Lambert and Bainbridge interjecting each other on lead guitar, and is a winning idea.

Now to the heart center of the album, "When the Spirit Moves", in which Cousins dons his "Benedictus" voice for a rare occasion of unabashed spirituality, backed in choral style by his bandmates. Musically, it develops the ideas on "When Silent Shadows Fall" from the prior album into a triumphant statement that is compelling from the first to the last note, attaining a crescendo that is suited to a closing number, and indeed it would form the end of Side 1 on a vinyl copy.

Next up is Dave Lambert's sole songwriting and lead vocal contribution, the bluesy "The Ten Commandments", which was written some years ago but fits thematically with the religious directives on the disc. While a break from Cousins' voice is welcome, it's perhaps my least favorite track, and initiates the listener into the weakest part of the album. "The Reckoning" is a decent instrumental with haunting mellotron flutes and piano by Bainbridge as well as pleasant acoustic guitar, but as lead in to the epic title track, it fails to impart sufficient gravitas. However, as it turns out, it imparts more than the title track merits! "The Ferryman's Curse" is the sequel to "The Vision of the Lady of the Lake" which appeared on "Dragonfly" back in 1970, which was the sole prog-oriented piece on that early album, a multi verse epic with a lovely melody and occasional hard rock accompaniment. Lyrically, this update resolves some questions that lingered for 47 years, and spins a fascinating tale in which the same number of years has ostensibly elapsed since the first misadventure. As poetry this is brilliant, particularly some of the Greek mythological references and how, in typical Strawbs fashion, the story itself seems to unfold outside of any specific historical setting. Unfortunately the whole 9 minutes is delivered as a dirge. Admittedly, the original piece was a challenge even for a young Cousins' pipes, so perhaps a decision was made to compose the piece for a narrower vocal range where he could still emote away but all studio mirrors and singer would be safe! Within all these constructs, the one hard rock moment on the album is the blistering instrumental break towards the climax, which isn't my cuppa but which might ignite some new fans if they only get that far...

The final two tracks adopt a far more optimistic and vivacious tone. While such tendencies have never been Strawbs' strong suit, both are handled better than in the past, and achieve respectable equilibrium as pop folk music, particularly "Bats and Swallows", an account of a Mediterranean vacation and the human and animal sights and sounds perceived by Cousins. The highlight instrumentally is the geographically appropriate bouzouki solo by Bainbridge, The main musical theme of "We Have the Power" is delivered on synthesizer, and the song structure, and perhaps even the lyrics, are like a much sunnier take on "Call to Action" which appeared on "The Broken Hearted Bride". The ending seems a bit off kilter though, leaving me wondering if it was intentional or not, since so much TLC clearly went into the making of this release. Unless they ran out of studio time?

When I began writing mental notes towards this review, I had intended to award a solid 3 stars, but it really breaks out at 3.5 stars, and not rounding up in this case is tantamount to elder abuse, both of the band and its longstanding fans who are still standing. Let's not pay the ferryman just yet.

 The Ferryman's Curse by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.74 | 7 ratings

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The Ferryman's Curse
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by The Jester

3 stars Starting this, I should say that I consider myself as a fan of Strawbs. Maybe not the greatest fan, but if you consider that I am listening to them for more than 25 years now, and I have in my music collection about 13-14 of their albums, I think I have a rather detailed opinion about them. Truth is that, their career has gone downhill for many years now, but they do release a good album every now and then; but to be honest, I don't know if The Ferryman's Curse is one of those albums. I know very well how good and important band Strawbs was, and I will not form an opinion based on their 23rd studio album. But, that doesn't change the fact that 'Ferryman's' is a very mediocre album. Yes, it includes some fine moments, like When the Spirit Moves for example, but most of the songs would never fit into the band's older albums; and that definitely tells us something about the overall quality, correct? Not to mention Dave Cousins vocals, which are not so good I'm affraid. The Ferryman's Tale is one more piece in a line of not so good ' but not bad - albums, like Prognostic, or Hero & Heroine in Ascencia, among others. For all those things, I don't think I can give more than 2.5 - 3.0 stars (out of 5.0) Favorite songs: When the Spirits Move, We have the Power and The Ferryman's Curse
 Live In Gettysburg by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2017
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Live In Gettysburg
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

— First review of this album —
4 stars I'm not sure who has milked their biggest album more. Roger Waters with his never ending Wall remakes and newer concert performances, or the Strawbs beating Hero And Heroine to death with this surprisingly good concert performance of the entire album, from the 2016 Rights of Spring Festival, that features some wonderful new keyboard links from guest player Dave Bainbridge.

For all intents and purposes, this album is really a live rendering of the Hero and Heroine remake from 2011 called Hero and Heroine In Ascencia. What really drives this concert is that Dave Cousins is in fantastic voice and knows it as he excitedly pushes his voice beyond on the limit once or twice, which is audible on this album's fine sounding 5.1 ch DVD. It's wisely edited out for the CD master as there's no visuals of an excited Cousins to gloss over the two flubs. No problem, as this is Cousins finest vocals as of late and the band, especially Bainbridge and super drum Tony Fernandez, are on fire. Dave Lambert is also is fine voice and is note perfect in his brilliant guitar playing.

The sound mix and mastering of the CD by bassist Chas Cronk and is very dynamic and is full of presence. Indeed, its very big and detailed sound is very reminiscent of the recording work done by producer Tom Allom on the original Hero And Heroine album. Imitation, it seems, is still the highest form of flattery.

I know that Live In Gettyburg will only appeal to die hard fans, but there's not that much live Strawbs of such wonderful sound and video quality available. I have played it every other day since receiving it in the post two weeks ago, as It's a live CD&DVD that just grabs you. 4 Stars.

 Live At Nearfest by STRAWBS album cover Live, 2005
3.68 | 9 ratings

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Live At Nearfest
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars To come to full circle with the classic Hero And Heroine and Ghosts line up of the Strawbs, this 2004 headlining concert for NEARfest reunites the Strawbs with the great John Hawken. Returning with Hawken was his magical Mellotron with tapes borrowed from fellow Mellotron master and ex Moody Blues' Keyboardist Mike Pinder. Talk about prog royalty. And with the Strawbs focusing on four cuts from H&H, along with other assorted prog antiques and curios, a good time was had by all.

What really makes this particular concert stand out, aside from the band bringing their A game, was that Dave Cousins' voice was still effective at this stage and had very good range, albeit a tad deeper with just a touch of croakiness. This was to change quickly as the 2004 progressed up until the present day where Cousins rusty rasp has become too grating at times. So, take this rare gem for what it's worth. Cousins in good voice with inspired singing as well as inspired playing by Dave Lambert, Chas Cronk, Rod Coombes, and the already mentioned John Hawken who also dazzles on some mind blowing and very bass heavy (for a live recording) synth tones. Excellent recording, mixing, and song selection puts this live archive in the 4 star range.

 Ghosts by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.03 | 155 ratings

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Ghosts
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

5 stars A brief cacophony of harpsichord notes dissolves quickly into one of the signature melodies of the Strawbs' progressive knockout titled "Ghosts", and we're off to listen to the last great prog album from this seminal 70's prog act. Where singer and songwriter Dave Cousins took us all on an introspective journey with the band's previously released prog classic Hero And Heroine, Cousins returns to more topical subjects before giving us one last glimpse into his psyche. And what could be more introspective than a nightmare about a visitation from a weathered angel with "eye's a bloody red"? It's the magnificent music conjured up by the exact same musicians that gave us the Strawbs' last classic (a rare occurrence for this band) that gives us the searing impressions of Hell that Mr. Cousins' implores us never to see. Yes, the three part "Ghosts", apart from being so incredibly melodic and atmospheric, just moves the prog song goalposts a little farther and is one of the few title tracks that's actually worthy of the honor.

To back track a bit, Hero And Heroine was recorded by a very different line up from the group's successful UK hit album Bursting At The Seams, and was all the stronger for it. By strange Strawb's fortune, this line up remained intact long enough to record "Ghosts" before uber keyboardist John Hawken went off to reform a variant of his early UK band, Renaissance, which they titled Illusion, after the title of the early Renaissance band's second album.

Hawken tones down his space age synth sounds on Ghosts and stays with more orchestral sounds generated from his icy Mellotron, organ, pianos and harpsichords. Guitarist Dave Lambert takes on more lead work or counter melodies with with his always deft and atmospheric guitar, and the man can shift from a country hoedown to Who-like bombast while always fitting in perfectly with the music. Bassist Chas Cronk is more melodic this time around while drummer Rod Coombes comes close to sounding like an octopus with his busy fills and inventive rhythms.

But it's Cousins that really sells the album with superb pop rock on "Lemon Pie" and the quirky "Where Do You Go (When You Need A Hole To Crawl Into), the moving ballads "Remembering/ You And I (When We Were Young) and "Grace Darling", the album closer which features both a full choir and magnificent church organ. Sandwiched around these classic songs are more prog fests such as "Starshine/Angel Wine" and the breathtaking two part suite called "The Life Auction", which seems to summon more ghostly specters to visit you on this album.

Producer/engineer Tom Allom also returns from the previous outing to help give Ghosts another dynamic full sounding production, while cleverly dodging any attempts to do a Phil Spector and reduce the sound to a claustrophobic fog. The sound of Ghosts is as clear as a bell while being very much in your face. No small feat either. Another 5 star album that starts off with a bang and goes out with one as well.

 Hero And Heroine by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.16 | 285 ratings

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Hero And Heroine
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

5 stars In the quest to determine what separates atypical prog from the stereotypical prog sounds that have come to define the sub genre of symphonic prog, one has to look past the musical surface. Yes, Hero and Heroine contains a multi suite song complete with an opening Mellotron fest that would make former KC member Ian McDonald envious, as well as other symphonic touches courtesy of John Hawken's piano and synths. Cleaver and deft electric guitar is delivered from Dave Lambert while Chas Cronk adds his ever melodious bass lines and accents to the mix. Drummer Rod Coombes keeps the fore mentioned from becoming a sleepwalk with his solid rock drumming that's never flashy but always hits the spot both musically and metaphorically.

But there's something special that stands out about Hero And Heroine. It's not a concept album, but it feels like one with it's references to a Silver Sun, a Midnight Sun, and the feeling of "autumn coming on..." from the previously mentioned three song suite titled "Autumn". And that's not a trick of the mind.

Songwriter and vocalist Dave Cousins wrote a cycle of songs about his emotional exploits and explorations over a single day. And they, not surprisingly, are quite like ours. From the chilly doom of feeling the season's change and life with it, to pining over a lost love, to the excitement of a new sexual discovery, Dave Cousins' feelings are ours. We can relate. We love, we lose, we regret. Yet, we live on.

Is this then the benchmark for a prog masterpiece? Not if you talk in maths. But if you live easily with emotions and can relate to another's tale of what it encompasses for all of us to be the hero and heroine of our own lives, then the Strawbs' classic 1974 album Hero and Heroine reaches that benchmark and easily surpasses it. As disparaging as Dave Cousins would find this comparison, he is the Bob Dylan of prog rock, and Hero and Heroine contains his finest work. A wonderfully lush production helps to send the album even higher. I can say no more as the words would fail me. 5 stars.

 Bursting At The Seams by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.56 | 147 ratings

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Bursting At The Seams
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by 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.

 Grave New World by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.15 | 292 ratings

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Grave New World
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

4 stars With Grave New World, the Strawbs stepped forever out of folk prog and became a full blown symphonic prog group with the inclusion of new keyboardist Blue Weaver's icy Mellotron. "Benedictus", perhaps the album's finest song, seems to take the more pastoral workings of "Glimpse of Heaven" from Tales from The Witchwood and supercharges the ethereal visions of Heaven that Cousins imagined both literally and musically with a mind blowing choir for the song's chorus, and an electric lead played by Cousins with an electric dulcimer that was played through a fuzz box! Weaver used string, flute and organ settings on his Mellotron to supplement his actual organ and cascading piano. It's an incredible opening to this or any album and the group would only come close to a song as good with the equally arresting title track.

Songs immediately following such "Queen of Dreams", which at first features psychedelic backwards guitar, Mellotron flutes, muted drums with it's stop and go rhythm breaks, is quite good as is bassist John Ford's Jethro Tull like "Heavy Disguise", which Ford performed solo on acoustic guitar apart from catchy backing from a brass section.

"New World", the album's ersatz title track, is a monster with Weaver supplying just brass and string Mellotron chords and melodies over the six and twelve six strum of Cousins' and Tony Hooper's acoustic guitars. Cousins released his most vitriolic vocal delivery ever as he condemned the violence in Northern Ireland so prevalent at that time in the UK's history. Ford and drummer Richard Hudson seem to go the extra mile on this song and the result is an absolute Strawbs' classic.

After that remarkable aural assault, the following songs seem less impressive but show off the group's strong points with the pleasantly acoustic "The Flower and the Young Man" and heavily progressive "Tomorrow". "Ah Me, Ah My" is quirky with it's British dance hall music accompaniment. It's only a minute and half long, and seems to clean the palette for the searching "Is It Today Lord?' which features Hudson on some wonderful sitar, and the album's closer "Journey's End", which features some philosophical musings from Cousins accompanied only by Weaver's moving piano. The two bonus tracks add nothing to the album and are forgettable.

All in all, Grave New World is an impressive prog album, but slows down a bit too much towards the end to warrant more than 4 stars (3.8 rounded up). But fear not friends. The Strawbs would offer some 5 star prog masterpieces in just a few short years to come.

 Heartbreak Hill [Aka: Starting Over] by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.73 | 33 ratings

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Heartbreak Hill [Aka: Starting Over]
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Much better than their other late-70s albums

This album is not well known, because the record company refused to release it when they recorded it (or rather more complexly, their management refused to allow them to release it to the record company and to continue managing them, which led to a situation in which they could not access the rights to their own recording, and were forced dropped by the record company). It was only finally released in the late 1990s on a limited release, but that version has poor-quality sound. Only recently has this great record finally received a proper release with the tracks remastered. The result is that the sound quality is (finally) very good. I think either a number of other reviewers heard a poor-sound-quality version of this, or they only listened to it once, or something. That is all I can think of to explain the poor ratings it has received, because this album is really very good. It is their best of the late 1970s, the best since Ghosts, and indeed, I think better than anything they have released since. Due to declining sales, the Strawbs were being pressured by their management and record company to make AOR hits, and on albums like Deep Cuts, Burning for You, and Deadlines, they complied. However, on this record they did NOT comply, instead handing over (in 1978) an album with long progressive-rock classics and very non-radio friendly emotional folk-rock tunes. You can hear the difference immediately if you compare those previous three albums (such as Deadlines) with this one. Those are polished, muted, tailored for getting on radio. This album is raw, with longer songs. Dave Cousins has said that this was a very difficult time for him, and did not fight to reclaim rights to his recordings as he wanted to forget this time in his life and move on. The songs make clear it was a painful relationship dissolution that animated these tunes. While not great for him, the songs definitely benefit. He sings like he means it. The songs and guitar solos are harder-edged, uncompromising. Some of these songs, because then-still un-released, were re-recorded for the album 'Don't Say Goodbye' ten yearslater. Some reviewers have suggested that those versions are better than the ones here on Heartbreak Hill. I completely disagree. By the time of Don't Say Goodbye (DSG) the sting had clearly worn off, and the songs lack the emotional vitality of these original versions. Furthermore, DSG is tame, with 80's production values and synthesizers that drown out the guitars. This is not the case here on Heartbreak Hill. This is probably their heaviest, rawest album, in their entire catalogue. Totally un-commercial. It is vital, an authentic statement. The best track, and one of the Strawbs' best-ever songs (and again, I have everything they did and have been a fan for 20+ years) is the title track "Heartbreak Hill". For PA readers, this is also one of their most progressive songs, and will appeal to those who otherwise don't listen to folk (or progressive folk), as it is nothing like folk. The second-best song is the 10-minute long "Starting Over", another great progressive rock piece. Close to these in quality is the hard-driving "Something for Nothing", again nothing like folk. This version is WAY better than the version re-recorded on DSG - you really feel it - as is the version of "Let it Rain" - here this sounds poignant and vital, while the DSG version sounds like AOR. Those four songs make up 30 minutes of this 40 minute album, bringing it up to 4 stars. The remaining shorter tracks are all decent, not top-notch but better than the filler on Deadlines (I think half of Deadlines is filler) and better than most of the songs on Burning for You. If you are not a Strawbs fan yet, then obviously check out the early 70s albums first. If you like those, and like Dave Cousins voice and song-writing, then of their late 70s albums this is the one I would turn to first. It is not perfect, but still very good. I give it 8.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale. Make sure to get the re-mastered version with the better sound quality.

 Ringing Down The Years by STRAWBS album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.69 | 21 ratings

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Ringing Down The Years
Strawbs Prog Folk

Review by Walkscore

1 stars Best Avoided.

I am a huge Strawbs fan (indeed, saw them live just a few months ago - they are still great!), and have virtually everything they ever did (even the five-CD 'Taste of Strawbs'). I will start my reviews of their albums with their two least-known. This one was originally only released in Canada, and only on cassette, in the late 1980s. As a huge fan, I still bought it, and tried to like it. VERY disappointing. In general, this album has the weakest compositions of any Strawbs album. This is not to say there are no good songs here, but in every case there are better versions on later albums. The big problem here is the production and sonic quality, which is *terrible*. It is the classic 80s over-production gone to extremes. The whole album is saturated with now out-dated synths, an awful drum sound, too much reverb, and often difficult to hear the singing. While other bands and even the Strawbs have examples of this issue, here it is extreme and very detrimental. Quite literally, NONE of the tracks on this album are listenable as they are. You need to hear the re-recordings the versions of the few strong ones on this album. Of these, the title track (written in memory of Sandy Denny) is probably the best - a great and poignant song - but ONLY on later albums (my favourite version is the one on Dave Cousins' solo album 'Secret Paths'). "Forever Ocean Blue" is wonderful, but again only on later albums (for that one, my favourite is the version on the Cousins and Wakeman duet album 'Hummingbird'). Here, it sounds like the worst AOR easy-listening schmaltz. Same for "Stone Cold is a Woman's Heart" (a MUCH better version is on Cousins/Wakeman 'Hummingbird'). The best track on this album is the opener "Might as Well be on Mars", which actually kindof reflects where the Strawbs were at during this period. This was originally a big hit in Canada by a band called the Pukka Orchestra. Why the Strawbs released their own version of that song only in Canada then is a mystery. I could see the Strawbs thinking the song was so good they might want people in the UK or elsewhere to hear it, but it was not going to get attention in Canada where everyone already knew and loved the original. This album is so bad, I have to give it 1 star. I love the Strawbs, but this album should never have been made, at least not in the form it took. I give it 0.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale. If you are interested in the songs on this album, get Dave Cousins' solo albums and the Cousins/Wakeman duet - they contain much better versions.

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