The Strawbs

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Strawbs

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If compilations like Tears and Pavan: An Introduction and A Choice Selection of Strawbs are primers on the Strawbs' intricate yet expansive folk-prog, then 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection is like the Cliffs Notes of their music: There's enough here to sketch out a general idea of the band's musical ideas and evolution, but there's also a lot left out for conciseness' sake. The collection does a good job of keeping its focus on the Strawbs' most definitive songs, such as "Benedictus," "Round and Round," "Lay Down," and "Hero and Heroine" -- all of which not only defined the group's sound, but the sound of prog as well. It also features some of their most pop-oriented moments, such as "Lemon Pie," as well as their most indulgent, like Hero and Heroine's "Autumn: Heroine's Theme/Deep Summer's Sleep." Considering that it's just ten tracks long, 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection is surprisingly representative of the Strawbs' mid-'70s halcyon days, even though fans will find plenty of songs that could have been included. Still, it's a worthwhile compilation for someone curious about the band but intimidated by the many larger collections of the Strawbs' work.

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