Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Folk, World Music, Rock
Digitally remastered double disc anthology of 38 recordings from 1966-68 that were made prior to the release of the band's first formal album. Many here are demos that would reappear on future albums and many that simply ... more »
Digitally remastered double disc anthology of 38 recordings from 1966-68 that were made prior to the release of the band's first formal album. Many here are demos that would reappear on future albums and many that simply went away as well as a chunk of covers.
Stuart Jefferson | San Diego,Ca | 05/15/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Two discs 53,52 minutes each approximately. The sound is much better than expected from demos recorded so long ago. The vocals and instruments are all clean sounding with a bit of depth to them.
These recordings were made from 1966-1968 by THE STRAWBERRY HILL BOYS,just before they changed their name (and style slightly) to the STRAWBS. At the time the group consisted of Dave Cousins-vocals/guitar/banjo,Tony Hooper-vocals/guitar,and Ron Chesterman-double bass. The drums (where heard) were handled by Terry Cox(PENTANGLE),John Marshall (SOFT MACHINE),and probably others.
There are a number of previously unreleased tunes,with the rest showing up on various STRAWBS/Dave Cousins albums. The overall feel of this set is music recorded for personal benefit/use. Being demos,there is a calmness,a self-satisfying,relaxed tone to both the vocals and arrangements. Even the instrumentals-sprinkled throughout this set, have that same feel.
Quite a few of these tracks were being performed at various folk clubs of the era. The group was not yet signed to a record label,and was still fleshing out and polishing their sound. Anyone familiar with STRAWBS first few albums will hear how these tracks evolved into the fine music they eventually released on A&M Records.
This is the English version of American folk music. A number of observations made in these songs are universal,yet have an English/European slant to them. Once in a while a track,which has been fleshed out with more instrumentation/arrangement than a couple of guitars/bass,has an almost pop music sound. These arrangements point the way to what STRAWBS would be recording and releasing once they were signed to a major record label,especially when the group had several more members. It's interesting that one of the more powerful songs,"We'll Meet Again Sometime",which catches the ear right away,is,if you listen closely to the words,about a man talking to his deceased wife. The overall sound of this track is very arresting-until you realize what it's about. This is a classic instance when the words to a song change the feel of the music,for better or worse-you decide.
STAWBS was blessed with two fine vocalists in Cousins and Hooper. Cousins' voice is a bit "earthier',more strident. Hooper's voice is smoother,gentler,with a wistful sadness to it. When they combine them,the blend is very pleasant indeed. They seem to have a blending of tones that suits this music. The addition of Cousins on banjo and Hooper on guitar,along with their voices is folk music of the highest order. On instrumentals,when they combine banjo and guitar,the names Flatt&Scruggs come to mind-which shows they were absorbing a number of styles,and had "big" ears.
The accompanying booklet is informative-detailing Cousins' thoughts/observations on all the tracks,which is a valuable addition to this collection.
For anyone who likes STRAWBS,especially their earlier,stripped down sound,this is a good set to add to the library. For someone new to this group,perhaps (unless you're a dyed-in-the-wool "folkie") you should listen to their first few albums before making a decision on this collection. However,to get the full feeling of this group,this is an important collection. Get it while it's available-it won't be around forever.