Strawbs — Deep Cuts
(Witchwoood Media WMCD 2031, 1976/2005, CD)
Strawbs — Heartbreak Hill
(Witchwoood Media WMCD 2033, 1978/2006, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2007-03-01
I don't think even the most rabid Strawbs fan (maybe not me, but I'm close, so I should know) would say these two albums represent the band's peak. That being said, there are still some fine tracks of music here. Sure they're a bit more mainstream than Grave New World, but "Turn Me Round" and "Simple Visions" surely rank among Dave Cousins' classics. To a certain extent, Deep Cuts is a formula Strawbs album: you get the regulation country rock song in "Charmer" (for which I've always had a weak spot); there's "Thinking of You," the old-timey song; there are a couple of dramatic story songs ("The Soldier's Tale" and "Beside the Rio Grande"), though oddly enough nothing over five minutes in length; and there's the tender love song ("So Close and Yet So Far Away"). So I suppose your take on Deep Cuts comes down to how you feel about a formula Strawbs album. The reissue's bonus track, Dave Lambert's "You Won't See the Light," is a good if non-essential addition to the original.
Skipping ahead a bit... After Burning for You and Deadlines, the band acquired a full-time keyboard player, Andy Richard, and got to work on their next album. On the down side, Dave Lambert chose this time to depart to work on a solo album, so Jo Partridge came in on guitar (replaced by Miller Anderson on a couple tracks). But before the album could be released, Strawbs were without management or label, and folded, leaving the tapes in the vaults. Musically, it's a bit of a return to form after Deadlines – while there is still a slick mainstream sound (partly due to the choices of keyboard sounds), there are three tracks topping the seven minute mark, and if none of them managed to enter the canon of classics, they're not throwaways either. Just good solid folk-rock tunes with a hint of prog to them, and a sure must for fans, though newcomers should start elsewhere, earlier in this illustrious career.
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more