Strawbs – Dancing to the Devil’s Beat

January 01, 1970

(Witchwood Media)

www.witchwoodrecords.co.uk

 

Who would have thought back in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s
that nearly 40 years later, the Strawbs would still be stirring. The “then” and
“now” photos of the group’s veteran line-up adorning the booklet of their new
LP affirms that remarkable trajectory. Likewise, the fanciful photo of newcomer
Adam Wakeman – original Strawbs member Rick’ Wakeman’s prodigious offspring – as
a newborn barely out of the womb back “then” places that evolution in a clear
and clever context.

 

Coming on the heels of various compilations and live
offerings, last year’s The Broken Hearted
Bride
, found Strawbs as inspired as ever, and while they still have a way
to go to match the urgency and intensity of albums like Bursting at the Seams, Grave
New World
and Hero and Heroine,
Cousins and company still offer the same assets – the soaring, anthemic
melodies, Cousins’ pleading, plaintive vocals, and the smooth juxtaposition
between folk roots and prog rock ambition. 
The “Pro Patria Suite” on this new effort illustrates the point
precisely — starting off as a delicate serenade, it eventually morphs into a
sweep of compelling choruses and riveting refrains.  Wedged between the album’s more bombastic
outlays, the lovely “Copenhagen” suggests Strawbs trad ties are still
thriving   On the other hand, a remake of
“Oh How She Changed” from the band’s debut, amplifies what was once a
bittersweet serenade and transforms it into a revamped tour-de-force..

 

Argue if you will that the Strawbs are past their prime.
Granted, that may be the case.  Yet the
fact that they can even keep pace to the Devil’s beat, much less dance to it,
speaks volumes about their sheer endurance.

 

Standout
tracks
: “Pro Patria Suite,” “Copenhagen”
LEE ZIMMERMAN

 

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