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Halcyon Days: The A&M Years
Halcyon Days: The A&M Years
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #2

Distinctly British strains of prog- and folk-rock met in the Strawbs, hit makers in their day and too little-known now. Led by singer-guitarist Dave Cousins (the only continuous member of the group), they started out as ki...  more »


CD Details

All Artists: Strawbs
Title: Halcyon Days: The A&M Years
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: A&M
Original Release Date: 8/11/1998
Release Date: 8/11/1998
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock
Styles: British & Celtic Folk, Folk Rock, Progressive, Progressive Rock
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 731454095129

Distinctly British strains of prog- and folk-rock met in the Strawbs, hit makers in their day and too little-known now. Led by singer-guitarist Dave Cousins (the only continuous member of the group), they started out as kin to Fairport Convention, serving up quasi-mythic lyrics and lavish harmonies. During the 1969-1975 period covered in this two-disc anthology, though, they branched out into sprawling prog-rock fanciness (for a few pre-Yes years, Rick Wakeman was the group's keyboardist) and a sort of proletarian glam. The essence of the group's sound, though, was Cousins's proudly enunciated vocals and bold acoustic strum. His utopian hippie dreams sustained the Strawbs even as members came and went. --Douglas Wolk

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CD Reviews

Difinitive Strawbs Collection
S. GODFREY | Risca, South Wales | 01/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Strawbs were not just a fine band - they were several! The earliest bluegrass-flavoured manifestation is not represented here, but the development from introspective acoustic balladeers, to purveyors of folky anthems, to epic prog-rockers, and almost back again via flirtations with the pop charts, are all here on this very satisfying collection. The distinguishing feature throughout each lineup is, of course, Dave Cousins' remarkable voice. Standouts include "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus" and "The Battle" from the first "real" Strawbs album (OK, the Sandy Denny one has its moments), the brilliant single "Lay Down", and longtime favourite "The Hangman and the Papist", but every track is worthwhile."
All their own work, the very best of...
William M. Feagin | Upstate New York, USA | 07/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"My introduction to the Strawbs, in college in 1988, was the track "Deadly Nightshade" from their 1978 LP Deadlines. I was not impressed; but I decided that this was not representative of the band and vowed to seek out their other albums. It took me over ten years, but when I found Halcyon Days in a record store in Memphis, I knew I had to check it out. I was not disappointed. This collection was my introduction to the band's years on A&M, and the sheer range of the material is stunning, to say the least. Beginning with the folk-influenced tracks of their 1969 debut, through the "gothic" period delineated by Grave New World, Bursting at the Seams, Hero & Heroine and Ghosts, to the more freeform work of Nomadness, these 35 tracks show the band's development into a mature and respected prog-rock band. Dave Cousins' impassioned and dramatic lyrics are offset by John Ford and Richard Hudson's more whimsical sing-alongs ("Part of the Union," a real tubthumper) and the thoughtful, introspective works of Tony Hooper and Dave Lambert. There is not a dud on this collection. All of the A&M albums are available as imports, the first two from Si-Wan Records in Korea (though you must act quickly to get copies of them), with the exception of Nomadness, which has not yet been remastered, and may very well not be. Essential."
Simply Great
jansley | Vernon, Texas | 04/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I just can't say enough good things about this band and about this collection (the US version). I first became aware of Strawbs in the mid 70's when the "Ghosts" album came out. It's strange but in the middle of Nebraska, the song "Don't Try To Change Me" received alot of radio airplay and seemed to be their American breakout song even though it strangely is not on this collection. I then bought "Hero and Heroine" and loved "Round and Round" and thought "Out in the Cold" was one of the most intimate and sexual love songs I'd ever heard (how things have changed indeed!).

For some reason this band kind of disappeared after "Ghosts", although I bought the "Nomadness" and "Deep Cuts" LP's and liked them but not as much as "Ghosts" or "Hero and Heroine". With this collection it was great to hear their earlier songs that I had not heard before, especially "New World", "Down By the Sea" and "Lay Down". I sat in awe with mouth wide open when I heard "Down By The Sea". Difficult to believe that even though I had bought 4 of their vinyl albums back in the 70's, I had never heard this song before until about a month ago when I bought this collection. What a treat to have heard such an incredible song that I didn't even know it existed!

The remastering is exquisite, the selections are presented in chronological order, and they are listed in the booklet in a way I wish all collections would do (year, time, album each song was on). And Cousin's comments about some of the songs are great. The second CD rocks a little more than the first, which is softer folk rock, but everything is great.

This is glorious, well-crafted and INTERESTING music, similar to early Jethro Tull in my opinion. I love Cousin's distinctive high-pitched vocals and these guys made the best use of the mellotron of any band. They also on later songs had excellent electric guitar riffs, similar to The Who's "Pinball Wizard" or Tull's "Locomotive Breath" and that's what initially drew me to the band. But it's not really the kind of music I'd play loud with windows down while cruisin thru a 'Sonic' drive in. The vocals are too 'high British' for that. But for listening alone, it just doesn't get much better than this. Very highly recommended."