The Strawbs

Preserves Uncanned

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A double CD of 38 previously unreleased songs (one is unlisted on the sleeve) dating from 1966-68, prior to the recording of their proper debut album. Most of these are demos, and many would surface (sometimes in altered form) on future Strawbs and Dave Cousins albums, although quite a few were never officially rerecorded. Its appeal isn't just limited to Strawbs specialists -- it's good, versatile (if slightly derivative) late-'60s British folk-rock, recalling Fairport Convention and (to a lesser degree) Pentangle in its eclecticism, though the Strawbs were no match for the Fairports in the vocal department. Most of the songs are Cousins originals, including tuneful, almost poppy harmony numbers and wordy tracts that take their lyrical cues from Bob Dylan and Ray Davies; the traditional folk tunes and bluegrass instrumentals, though indicative of the group's multi-faceted talents, are less interesting. Self-penned compositions like "October to May," "Martin Luther King's Dream," "Where Is the Dream of Your Youth," and "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus" are among the best (not to mention lyrically ambitious) songs Cousins has ever done; "All I Need is You" and the Beatles-ish "And You Need Me" are among the poppiest. Good sound quality, and detailed liner notes by Cousins himself.

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