Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

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toomanyhatz
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 09 Aug 2021, 21:50

C wrote:This is a very good album Dave

Image







.


Indeed, my learned friend. But the release date was 1979.

It renewed my interest in Strawbs that Deadlines had lost. A tale yet to be told...
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby C » 09 Aug 2021, 23:18

toomanyhatz wrote:
C wrote:This is a very good album Dave

Image







.


Indeed, my learned friend. But the release date was 1979.

It renewed my interest in Strawbs that Deadlines had lost. A tale yet to be told...


1979... Well, well, well.

I had it earlier but checking I see you are absolutely correct




.
LMG wrote:Everyone I have ever met was at Baker's Airforce show where it was recorded. My boss, various ex-girlfriends, my postman was reminiscing about it the other day. My Mum went, my Dad and both sets of grandparents. I got stuck at home with a babysitter!

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby C » 10 Aug 2021, 14:15

C wrote: The Hermit, Brentwood, Essex

[I wonder if it is still going?]


This looks interesting:

https://www.thehermit.co.uk




.
LMG wrote:Everyone I have ever met was at Baker's Airforce show where it was recorded. My boss, various ex-girlfriends, my postman was reminiscing about it the other day. My Mum went, my Dad and both sets of grandparents. I got stuck at home with a babysitter!

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 10 Aug 2021, 23:03

Image

And here we have the first Strawbs album that I heard in something close to real time. My high school pal that I dated for 22 hours (I've probably told the story before here; I was later in a band with her younger brother for many years) turned me on to Curios, Witchwood, and Grave, all of which I loved from the first. So I started hunting down their albums in the used bins. This, their then-current album (though probably about a year old at that point), was the first one I found. Imagine my disappointment.

This one looms large in the book, though Cousins spends comparatively little time discussing the actual music. Apparently after their option for a third Oyster album was declined by the band's management, Cousins decided to call it a day, before getting a message that Arista Records' president Clive Davis would like to have a word. Davis wined, dined, and complimented him and the band to such a degree that he finally gave in. The good news is, he believed in them and was willing to promote the hell out of them on a major label. The bad news is...well - I don't really have to say too much about that, do I? I still have the memory of putting it on expecting mellotron, folkie melodies, fingerpicked acoustic guitar and hearing something indistinguishable from REO Speedwagon or Journey (with better lyrics, it should be said).

Years later I'm still not over it, but I have learned to appreciate its best moments more. "The Last Resort" is at least good commercial pop, with Beach Boys-influenced harmonies and crisp Lambert guitar; I would have been more than OK with it being a US hit considering the state of the airwaves at the time otherwise. And "Sealed With a Traitor's Kiss," his musical apology to his first wife, is heartfelt and sensitive. And it does have this, which I did recognize at the time as being the only semblance of their former greatness. And thank god it was there, lest I assume this band was made up of imposters:



They tried one more time (story on that coming soon), but for all intents and purposes, part one (or 1B, really) of the Strawbs story ends here.

Fortunately once the 'movers and shakers' of the industry lost interest, Cousins managed to find his way back to his strengths fairly quickly. I can't say the best was yet to come, but it was certainly far from over.
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 11 Aug 2021, 07:14

First there was business to attend to. The Arista deal was for two albums, so they were still contractually obligated to deliver one more. I'm not going to give the rundown on Heartbreak Hill yet considering it wasn't released until 1995, but suffice to say things fell apart.

Lambert, who had signed a deal for a solo album with Polydor (Oyster's parent label), played guitar on one song, packed his bags and left for LA(!) to record his album. Cousins didn't hear from him, he claims, for 20 years. So Jo Partridge and Miller Anderson took over.

Cronk stayed on board, as did drummer Tony Fernandez (ex- of Rick Wakeman's band, he'd joined up for Deadlines).

For the first time in years they added a permanent keyboardist, Andy Richards. He would stick around to the bitter end, which would take three years to be finalized.

Cousins, who had worked for Radio Denmark in the earliest days of Strawbs, was starting to question whether he should just let the band die and pursue a new career in radio. Elton John's Rocket Records offered a $30,000 advance to finish up the album and pay Arista off. Elton was a fan, and had always been supportive. But Cousins, deep in debt and beyond frustrated with trying to hold his fracturing band together, turned it down.

And instead started a new career, working for Radio Tees.
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. Got Jimi's autograph after the show and went on to see him several times that year


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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby C » 11 Aug 2021, 08:27

Good write-ups Dave. Thank you

History can't be changed but Cousins should have terminated the band for good after Nomadness - they were clearly going in the wrong direction at that point





.
LMG wrote:Everyone I have ever met was at Baker's Airforce show where it was recorded. My boss, various ex-girlfriends, my postman was reminiscing about it the other day. My Mum went, my Dad and both sets of grandparents. I got stuck at home with a babysitter!

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Neil Jung » 11 Aug 2021, 15:39

C wrote:Good write-ups Dave. Thank you

History can't be changed but Cousins should have terminated the band for good after Nomadness - they were clearly going in the wrong direction at that point

.


....or before Nomadness!

Deadlines. Hmmm. Never really liked it. It’s very one paced and overwrought. But even so I seem to have on both vinyl and CD.

I’m surprised that Dave C and Dave L were ever out of touch! But I suppose it explains why he used Willoughby and Anderson etc.
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Neil Jung » 11 Aug 2021, 15:50

What happened to Dave Lambert’s solo album? Overtaken by punk / new wave perhaps.
[indistinct chatter]

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby C » 11 Aug 2021, 16:22

Neil Jung wrote:
C wrote:Good write-ups Dave. Thank you

History can't be changed but Cousins should have terminated the band for good after Nomadness - they were clearly going in the wrong direction at that point

.


....or before Nomadness!



Yes, maybe, but I didn't want to be unkind.

I'll give it the benefit of then doubt - there is some very robust stuff on it




.
LMG wrote:Everyone I have ever met was at Baker's Airforce show where it was recorded. My boss, various ex-girlfriends, my postman was reminiscing about it the other day. My Mum went, my Dad and both sets of grandparents. I got stuck at home with a babysitter!

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Neil Jung » 11 Aug 2021, 17:54

I’m playing Deadlines on vinyl, hoping the new cartridge will give it some zip. It doesn’t.
No Return. Lambert sings. It goes on way too long.
Joey And Me. Dense production. Chugging guitar. There’s a piano solo in the middle. Then more chugging. Again it outstays its welcome by at least two minutes.
Sealed With A Traitor’s Kiss. Just DC and piano to start. Better than the first two songs but it’s still a bit of a dirge.
I Don’t Want To Talk About It. Lambert sings. He really doesn’t want to talk about it. At length. He’s not a great singer. Better than Lee Jackson though. Maybe it’s Arista’s fault; other than Happy The Man they were always a useless label.
The Last Resort. More mid paced multi tracked vocals. I can see now why I never play this. It isn’t perhaps quite as bad as for example Wishbone Ash’s Locked In, which I use as the standard bearer for lack of interest and songwriting bankruptcy but it’s close.
Make it stop. And no I’m not playing the other side.
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 11 Aug 2021, 19:17

Image

This is the only linkable image I can find; sorry about the giant size.

Anyway, we can dispense with this one quickly: it's not very good.

Anyone thinking, as apparently producer Jeffrey Lesser did, that Lambert was the more natural front man in Strawbs, was probably set straight by this.

A song or two, or a few co-writes, within the context of Strawbs? No problem. An albums-worth of original songs? The cracks show rather quickly.

I will say - it's a hell of a band. Lambert had gotten very good at multi-tracking guitars. He was not a wildly attention-getting soloist, but he was tasteful and solid. Richard Bennett handled rhythm guitars. Denny Seiwell, ex-Wings, was a solid drummer. The bass is either top session man Lee Sklar, or...Lambert's childhood pal John Enwistle. So you can't blame them.

They were doing good work, but in the service of weak, cliched attempts at a commercial sound quite similar to what Strawbs had recently failed to find a place on the charts with.

This is, unfortunately, about as interesting as it gets. Not bad for what it is, but overlong, and not something a longtime Strawbs fan is likely to have any connection with. The guitars and vocal harmonies are nice:



That's my favorite, anyway. Any interested parties can, I think, find the entire album on Youtube.

He'd then disappear, not just from Strawbs, but from the music world entirely, at one point (it is rumored) to become a ski instructor.

He'd be back, and would arguably play a more important role than ever in the Strawbs story.
Footy wrote:
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. Got Jimi's autograph after the show and went on to see him several times that year


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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Neil Jung » 11 Aug 2021, 22:18

Wow, obviously I didn’t know that album existed. If I’ve never heard of it it can’t have sold many copies.
I knew Lambert had been a ski instructor - he was interviewed as such on tv once to my amazement.
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 11 Aug 2021, 22:58

Next up - that Cousins/Willoughby album that C posted - I think I learned about it about a year after release, but it helped rinse out the lousy taste Deadlines left - and The Monks (not to be confused with the American by way of Germany garagers), Hudson and Ford's "punk" guise, who had actual hits.

Then we'll be able to breeze through the 80s fairly quickly, as not much happened, really...
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby slightbreeze » 11 Aug 2021, 23:37

Neil Jung wrote:Wow, obviously I didn’t know that album existed. If I’ve never heard of it it can’t have sold many copies.
.l

A lot of money must have been spent on the album cover. Anything up to £5

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 11 Aug 2021, 23:45

slightbreeze wrote:
Neil Jung wrote:Wow, obviously I didn’t know that album existed. If I’ve never heard of it it can’t have sold many copies.
.l

A lot of money must have been spent on the album cover. Anything up to £5


Photo taken on a freeway overpass in LA. In Hollywood, in fact, if it's the one I'm thinking it is.

The cover is only one bad taste offense. I'd say the perm fits under that category too...

I'm glad he preferred the quiet life. The Hollywood life was clearly not for him.
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. Got Jimi's autograph after the show and went on to see him several times that year


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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 12 Aug 2021, 23:24

Image

Hudson and Ford's "punk" guise.

Well, I couldn't very well not talk about it, could I?

Here is my sincere, honest opinion:

Hudson and Ford were a dynamite team. Both solid musicians on multiple instruments with more than serviceable voices. Occasionally they were even very good songwriters. Funny that should be in service of a novelty album in a 'punk' guise that is, as one Amazon reviewer says, to punk what the Rutles are to the Beatles, but Honestly, it's a fun record to listen to. I appreciate the absurdity of it. Any 'cred' they had would be immediately lost upon seeing what they actually look like, though Terry Cassidy is a hell of a singer - he does 'that voice' very well. But the resentment against them for being 'fake' punks is ridiculous. And I can't hate anyone who can do as good a job of skewering Johnny Rotten as they do here:



This was the hit. It became a hit by accident. Hudson and Ford might be wondering why every time they have a hit, someone ends up resenting them. Their reward for it was to be forever treated as a one-hit wonder.



Here's the thing. I don't think they're as good as the Rutles. But what they have in common with them is that they may be poking the music they're sending up with a stick, but they are doing it from a standpoint of actual affection for it. The musicianship is loose, spirited, and full of memorable little riffs. It's not world moving stuff, but I find it fun. And that's the truth.
Footy wrote:
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. Got Jimi's autograph after the show and went on to see him several times that year


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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 13 Aug 2021, 05:45

Image

Image

Back in the late 70s, pre-internet, you had to see a record in a record store or a catalog in order to know that it exists, unless you're seeing the artist on tour. I think I actually saw (and bought) this record in 1980, but I certainly had no idea what Cousins was up to at the time. Apparently, while Strawbs were still deciding how or if to get that last record released, Dave did what he hadn't done in quite a while - he hit the folk circuit, bringing along Lambert's official replacement in Strawbs, his old childhood pal Brian Willoughby.

Resulting in this particular record recorded quickly to have something to sell on the festival circuit. It's pretty much straight to tape, with Cousins and Willoughby on acoustics. Cousins' playing is great - he hadn't lost a step. Willoughby is still finding his way around the songs and overplays in parts, but when the blend is just right, it's a beautiful guitar orchestra. Cousins has always been good at this.

The songs are mostly Strawbs remakes, but it's a nice selection. This is probably my favorite version of this:



But the two that don't appear elsewhere are...let's just go with rather striking.





I particularly like Willoughby's playing on the latter. And I like the song too, though it's a bit mean-spirited.

Anyway, it was sure a godsend to me in 1980. Pretty much restored Strawbs (since I had no idea whether or not there was, or was to be, a Strawbs at this point) to my good graces.
Footy wrote:
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. Got Jimi's autograph after the show and went on to see him several times that year


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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 13 Aug 2021, 19:10

Cousins' last album credit for a number of years is this, of all things:



He also did this in the waning days of Strawbs (the vocal only, no instrumental or writing contribution whatsoever). According to Cousins, he was paid with a backgammon set. Which was seized by customs when he tried to take it on the plane home. More Strawbsish bad luck. Figures.



Cousins officially left Strawbs in June 1980 and started his full-time 'regular office' job with Radio Tees. Strawbs carried on for a couple months with Roy Hill replacing Cousins as singer (on Cousins' own suggestion), added John Knightsbridge on guitar and saxophonist Bimbo Acock, and did a couple of shows that way, before folding completely after less than two months.

The hiatus lasted three years. But it was far from the end of the story.
Footy wrote:
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. Got Jimi's autograph after the show and went on to see him several times that year


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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby C » 14 Aug 2021, 11:24

toomanyhatz wrote: it really properly begins once Cousins hears an angelic voice in a pub and asks her to join the Strawbs


I prefer this to the Pickwick earlier version - better track selection and the original strings put back in - a crisper sound too

Image





.
LMG wrote:Everyone I have ever met was at Baker's Airforce show where it was recorded. My boss, various ex-girlfriends, my postman was reminiscing about it the other day. My Mum went, my Dad and both sets of grandparents. I got stuck at home with a babysitter!

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Neil Jung » 14 Aug 2021, 18:33

I’ve got that Intergalactic Touring Band record. It must have been cheap.
[indistinct chatter]