The Strawbs

The Complete Strawbs Live at Chiswick House [DVD]

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On August 29, 1998, the Strawbs gave an unusual concert at Chiswick House in West London that featured several different lineups of the band, though Dave Cousins was the constant on-stage presence as the principal singer. Much of the show was issued on CD in 2000 under the title The Complete Strawbs, 2000 (Chiswick '98 Live). This 90-minute DVD includes performance footage of all 14 of those tracks, as well as a couple of songs ("Stormy Down" and "Blue Angel") that didn't make it onto that disc. Considering that the video was assembled from footage from a couple of cameramen with mini DV camcorders augmented with some additional home video footage, the audiovisual quality is very good, though the camera angles are basic. The concert was split into four segments/lineups, one featuring the '90s version of the Strawbs, another the mid-'70s incarnation that toured the States, another the circa late-'60s/early-'70s players, and another the "Re-Union Strawbs," their 1973 lineup that scored the hit "Part of the Union" (which is, of course, part of their set here). A few guests augment them at points, including ex-Fairport Convention fiddler Ric Sanders and keyboardist Adam Wakeman, son of onetime Strawb Rick Wakeman (who couldn't make the gig, unfortunately, due to illness). The performances are good, though best when there's a greater emphasis on harmony vocals, and wisely lay off any temptations to augment the trademark art rock-tinged Strawbs folk-rock sound with unsuitable modern keyboard electronics. The only extra features are a brief filmed segment of Cousins explaining a little of the history behind Chiswick House and the circumstances of the concert, and brief trailers for another DVD of the Strawbs in Tokyo in 1975.