The Strawbs


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Recorded live in 1970 (the exact venue[s] and source[s] are not given), this 68-minute disc is a very good-sounding document of the Strawbs as they sounded shortly after Rick Wakeman joined the band, and as they were making their transition from folk-rock to harder progressive-edged music. Most of the material's from their early albums Strawbs (1969) and Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios (1970), and it's interesting to hear the Strawbs songs in particular undergo some rearrangement to integrate Wakeman's classical-influenced keyboards. Wakeman's contributions are very much at the forefront throughout the tracks, in fact, especially on his instrumental "Temperament of Mind." But they're always a factor in taking the group further away from their folk base into something artier, with a lengthy solo on a nine-minute "Where Is This Dream of Your Youth?," for instance, that makes the tune quite different from the sparer studio treatment. As for rarities of interest to hardcore Strawbs fans, there's a version of "We'll Meet Again Sometime," a song the group didn't put on their early albums, though Dave Cousins put it on his 1972 album Two Weeks Last Summer, and the banjo-organ-dominated instrumental "Dance On" (originally a hit for, of all people, the Shadows), which had never been previously included on any Strawbs or Strawbs-related release. Most listeners will be most pleased, however, by the well-sung, well-played, and well-recorded renditions of some of their more familiar early songs, such as "The Antique Suite," "The Battle," "Where Is This Dream of Your Youth?," "Josephine, for Better or for Worse," and "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus."

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