Strawbs — Déjà Fou
(Witchwoood Media WMCD2020, 2004, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2005-03-01
Ghosts was the first Strawbs record I ever heard, and I seem to remember liking it immensely from the first play; the band quickly became one of my favorites, a position they’ve held for thirty years. I’ve grown cynical enough to be doubtful that a reformation of this classic line-up could live up to its history – I’m also open-minded enough to give it a chance, and my verdict comes down on the positive side. In fact, my only complaint is that Dave Cousins’ voice is sounding a little ragged these days, so the massed harmonies aren’t as “angelic” as they used to be. But his voice was always on the edge of control, so that’s a minor issue. The songwriting (mostly Cousins, with a couple of Lamberts and some collaborations) is uniformly strong, and the arrangements don’t pander to contemporary fashions (with only a bit of drum machine noticeable on one track). The foundation of acoustic guitars, bass, and drums is augmented by a variety of keyboards (mostly vintage sounding), electric guitar, banjo, and a string quintet. The tracks are divided fairly evenly between delicate acoustic and more intense electric sounds, and the emotional tone varies nicely from melancholy to loving to philosophical to vitriolic social commentary. There’s also a variety in terms of length and complexity, from short, simple songs (“On a Night Like This”) to longer epics (“The Russian Front”). In some ways, Déjà Fou sounds more like a direct follow up to Ghosts than Nomadness was.
There's No Time Like the Present – The Belgian band Present has been one of the best avant-rock bands in the world since its formation in 1979. Over the years since then, Present has released nine amazing albums, and now they're ready to start work on number ten. They're looking for some financial help from their fans around the world. » Read more
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more