Exposé Online banner

Strawbs — Halcyon Days
(540662-2 , 1997, 2CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1998-02-01

Halcyon Days Cover art

Perhaps Strawbs is one of the most widely misunderstood bands that ever confused and confounded fans for not conforming to preconceived (and often wildly inaccurate) expectations. When Yes fans heard that their golden boy Wakeman was an ex-member, they rushed to buy copies of Witchwood and Antiques only to learn that Ricky was in a folk band that, only a few years prior were an acoustic trio of guitars and banjos doing bluegrass covers. And what about that singer Dave Cousins, sort of like a flowery Bob Dylan with a British accent. This wasn't anything like Yes, and sadly, for many this would be their first and final impression of the band. In fact, from a purely folk perspective, Strawbs was probably the most progressive of a group of 'electric-folk' bands (which included Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Steeleye Span, and others) that came out of England in the late 60s. After an obscure debut album which was released only in Denmark, singer Sandy Denny bailed for greener pastures with Fairport, who already had a major label deal. Denny's replacement, Sonja Kristina, didn't last long either, moving on to Curved Air. Down to a trio again, Strawbs signed with A&M Records, and would end up recording nine albums and two best-of compilations between '69 and '75, first as a purely electric folk band, then later assimilating elements of progressive rock, classical, and pop. This two-disc full-length compilation exhaustively covers their years with A&M, and includes many rare singles and B-sides that have slipped through the cracks, as well as some of their best album cuts from that period. Those longing for the haunting title track from their 1975 Ghosts album need look no further. Also here is the majestic "Blue Angel" from the obscure 1972 Dave Cousins solo album, three rare Hudson / Ford singles recorded around the time of Bursting at the Seams, and the shimmering "Golden Salamander" from their final A&M album, Nomadness. Conspicuously absent are any of the songs penned by lead guitarist Dave Lambert (from Bursting... onward), the classic "Tears and Pavan," and the dreamy masterpiece "Autumn" that opens the Hero & Heroine album — I suppose they would've needed a third disc for all the great stuff they missed. Still, this is an outstanding compilation that should serve as an excellent introduction to the band, or as a supplement of lost and rare tracks for the longtime fan.


Filed under: Archives, Issue 14, 1997 releases

Related artist(s): Dave Cousins, Strawbs, Dave Lambert

Latest news

2019-12-11
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

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
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

2019-08-20
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


Previously in Exposé...

Electrum - Frames of Mind – Here are three guys who love Rush and decided to record an album together of songs influenced by the Canadian trio. It's a scenario I've seen played out over and over (see Afterlife in these...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues