The Strawbs

Halcyon Days: The A&M Years

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In the course of nine years, the Strawbs evolved from an obscure, quirky British bluegrass group into one of the most beloved progressive rock bands in the world. This 150-minute collection covers most of that history, encompassing most (but not all) of the key songs from their nine A&M albums, as well as lost B-sides, songs by ex-members Richard Hudson and John Ford, and a pair of tracks off of Dave Cousins' 1972 solo album Two Weeks Last Summer. The selection of material is inspired, juxtaposing rarities with a good deal of important music from the core of their output. The programming straddles the collectable and the historical/musical significance of the material, so we get early-'70s FM hits such as "The River" and "Down by the Sea" sharing space with material such as "Martin Luther King's Dream" and subsequent extended progressive material like "Ghosts." The range of styles is daunting, from Dylanesque acoustic folk-style numbers to extended songs in which Mellotrons, synthesizers, and loud, complex electric guitar runs are the dominant presences.

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