Strawbs Grave New World Genres:Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock Digitally remastered reissue of their 1972 album for A&M with the original cover art intact & two bonus tracks added:'Here It Comes' & 'I'm Going Home'. 14 tracks total. 1998 A&M release.
"This excellent 1972 release by the Strawbs is much proggier/rockier sounding than From the Witchwood (1971), with electric instruments outweighing acoustic instruments. The lineup at this point no longer included Rick Wakeman, who had (rather abruptly) joined Yes. Apparently Dave Cousins was very upset by the way Rick left the band, which was expressed in the angry-sounding track Tomorrow. In addition to Dave Cousins (vocals acoustic/electric guitars, dulcimer) the other players on the album include the superb keyboardist Blue Weaver (mellotron, Hammond organ, harmonium, clavioline); John Ford (bass, vocals); Tony Hooper (guitars, vocals); and Richard Hudson (drums). The overall sound of the album is dark and features plenty of brooding mellotron parts and a few delicate, folk-flavored acoustic pieces (Hey Little Man...Wednesday's Child). The track Grave New World is the best example of gloom and doom on the album and is simply loaded with mellotron (w/string setting) - it is my favorite piece on the album in fact. On the other side of the equation is some brisk Hammond organ work - Blue Weaver certainly gives Wakeman a run for his money on the track Tomorrow; aggressive bass parts played on a very trebly Rickenbacker bass; rocking electric guitar work; and some heavy drumming. In general though, the heaviness is not overbearing in any way. Although Dave Cousins certainly has an unusual voice, I actually find it very listenable. The three and four part vocal harmonies are also very nice - the folk inflected vocal harmonies on The Flower and the Young Man are especially good. Although prog, folk and rock styles predominate, there are Indian influences as well (Is It Today, Lord?), along with a bit of silliness. Specifically, the track Ah Me, Ah My is silly in a Monty Python, barbershop quartet way and really does not fit with the heavy gloom that characterizes most of the material. This is a minor complaint however, and does not affect the quality of the listening experience. The remastering of the album is generally pretty good and features improved sound quality (although the bass is screaming), along with detailed liner notes and restored cover art. The bonus tracks Here it Comes and I'm Going Home are not especially good. Overall, this is a wonderful Strawbs album and is recommended along with From the Witchwood (1971); Hero and Heroine (1974); and Ghosts (1975)."
My absolute favorite Strawbs album
Rykre | Carson City, Nevada | 12/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although, I'm not too crazy about the track "Benedictus", nor the silly little "Hey Little Man" tracks, I do think that everything else on this album of "Grave New World" are the strongest, most important recordings that the Strawbs ever did. It is certainly the Strawbs best line-up of their most important personnel.
"Queen of Dreams" is a great psychedelic folk song. "Heavy Disguise" sounds very Beatle-ish. "New World" is probably Dave Cousins most angry song. "The Flower and the Young Man" is a beautiful folk ballad. And "Tommorrow" represents the distance that folk "hard rock" can achieve. "On Growing Older" is a great short piece about simply that: grower older. And the last three tracks of the original album are just warm and fuzzy, beautiful but slightly hypnotic, psychedelic folk music and Progressive Rock. This is one of the last Strawbs albums that I bought when I was collecting Strawbs albums back in the seventies. Who would have thought that their best album would have been the one I bought last from A&M Records. After this album came "Bursting At The Seams", "Hero and Heroine", "Ghosts", and then A&M's last album from the Strawbs, "Nomadness".
After their "Nomadness" album, the Strawbs continued to have band member changes and they drifted further away from both of their Folk and their Progressive influences and started to sound more like a typical pop music group that was already the sound that was saturating the pop music charts. But none of this music ever really went to pop radio. It was all so easily dismissible since the Strawbs were so strong during their A&M days. Only true Strawbs loyalists continued to buy the Strawbs albums (I'm guilty of this too, nowadays) even after they left A&M. Their immediate follow-up albums (from the Oyster label) were "Deep Cuts" and "Burning for You". There are a few good tunes, but these albums are easily and regrettably forgettable.
The album afterwards, called "Deadlines" ended strong. Their songs "Deadly Nightshade" and "Words of Wisdom" are two of Dave Cousins best songs ever.
Strawbs continued to perform and release albums in later years. Dave Cousins still likes to find old band members who probably have nothing better to do, and they've done some shows and released some albums. In 1988, their album "Don't Say Goodbye" and 1991's "Ringing Down the Years" are both pretty good. I think these two albums are better than their albums from the late seventies after "Nomadness".
But, alas, they were running out of creative ideas yet again, and started to lose their appeal once again. What's frustrating about the Strawbs is that Dave Cousins likes to keep re-recording earlier songs, like he thinks he's improving on them. I wish he wouldn't do this. In 2002, Dave Cousins got together with Rick Wakeman and recorded another album together called "Hummingbird". Rick Wakeman left the Strawbs back in 1971 to join Yes and to do solo projects. And even on this Cousins and Wakeman album, Cousins still did some re-recordings that Rick Wakeman had nothing to do with back in their heyday.
Dave Cousins seems to be the only member of the Strawbs that was on every Strawbs album. All the other members just came and went over the years. But, I'm sure that every Strawbs fan will agree that the Strawbs best albums were the albums of the A&M years (1969-1975). If you can find it, look for their double CD called "Halcyon Days" (the US version). It is the very best of the Strawbs put together all in one great double CD package. In fact, it was done so well that it is very obvious that A&M have no intentions of releasing their albums separately. You'd have to buy their expensive imports as I have.
I hope someday they will release the Hudson-Ford albums on CD. These two guys contributed to what made the folk side of the Strawbs so strong back in their earlier days.
Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, The Strawbs, Yes, Pink Floyd, Triumvirat, King Crimson, The Moody Blues, Rick Wakeman, and Monty Python's Flying Circus. And enjoying a tall cold bottle of Vernor's Ginger Ale while kicking back to the most adventurous music ever made. These were the strongest influences in my life as a kid. The Strawbs are still performing shows throughout England. They have a following just like the Grateful Dead had here in America. I'd like to see them come do a show here in California. Perhaps they could do a double billing with maybe Blackmore's Night. That would be a great show where they would actually compliment each other being seen together. What do you think? I think Strawbs fan's should definitely check out Blackmore's Night.
Discovering the strawbs.
fluffy, the human being. | forest lake, mn | 10/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"back in my 7th or 8th grade days, when i first started buying albums, i recall the strawbs were a regular feature in all the cut-out bins i went through. i'm pretty sure that i bought one of their recordings for 99 cents or something, and i probably listened to it at least once, but being a little retard, it left no impression. well, many a year later, i have given "grave new world" a go, and it certainly has left an impression. great prog-folk-rock. a pinch of genesis, a dash of procol harum, a touch of cat stevens, and a whole lot of other stuff. a great album. i need to get more strawbs."
This is the one!!
George Ogle | 12/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've heard them all.
This is their best album!!
You will not be disappointed."
The Strawbs find a cohesive musical direction to get to the
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 03/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I went to go hear the Strawbs in concert when they were on their "Hero & Heroine" tour. I did not own any of their albums, but the FM station I listened to in Albuquerque liked their music and would play "Down by the Sea" often enough that coupled with commercials for the concert highlighting some choice bits from assorted songs I decided to go check them out (besides, Richie Havens was opening for them). In the wake of the concert I went out and got every Strawbs album I could find in town, which included "Grave New World."
I am willing to round up on this one, but I do not think of "Grave New World" as being a first tier Strawbs album (those would be the next three after this one). Part of the reason is that the music a lyrics are a bit too pretentious as times, and if you really get into what is going on here it can be a bit depressing. But that was what was happening in the wake of Rick Wakeman's leaving the group for Yes. Apparently that is the context in which we are supposed to listen to the opening track "Benedictus," in which Cousins sings about blessing "all those who cause us pain." Besides, how many songs have an electric dulcimer run through a fuzz box? This is the best song on the album, while the title track is the second, even though it provides decidedly contradictory sentiments, as when Cousins sings, "may you rot in your grave new world." The post-apocalyptic sentiments are sung out while Weaver provides some of his best work on the mellotron.
Those two songs override everything else on the album, which can make it seem not as solid an effort as we would see on the next album, "Bursting at the Seams." But "The Flower and the Young Man" and "On Growing Older" are both solid songs, showing that Cousins could write effectively for both the electric and acoustic guitar. This digitally remastered reissue contains a pair of bonus tracks, but while "I'm Going Home" is a solid little track, "Here It Comes" is a throwback to the musical period the group was leaving behind. Still, every little blast from the past tacked on is to be appreciated as an effort to clean out the vaults.
The Strawbs remain one of my favorite progressive rock bands of the 1970s, but when this album came out in 1972 the group was still a lot closer to their folk-rock roots. In addition to David Cousins writing songs, the rhythm section of Richard Hudson and John Ford was producing some decent tracks as well. But this would be the last album with Tony Hooper on lead guitar, who would be replaced by Dave Lambert, who brought more rock sensibilities to the group. At this point Blue Weaver had replaced Wakeman on keyboards, but I really define the glory days of the Strawbs by the time that John Hawken was in that role. By that point Cousins was the only one left from the original Strawberry Hill Boys. The verdict might be that the Strawbs were not on the same plateau as Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, or even Renaissance, but if they were a second tier group they were the best on that level."