Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

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trans-chigley express
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby trans-chigley express » 20 Aug 2021, 05:14

I never heard any Strawbs album beyond Ghosts (which I love) though I do have a comp with a few cuts from Nomadness. The reviews so far suggest I'm not missing much.

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Neil Jung
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Neil Jung » 20 Aug 2021, 15:53

trans-chigley express wrote:I never heard any Strawbs album beyond Ghosts (which I love) though I do have a comp with a few cuts from Nomadness. The reviews so far suggest I'm not missing much.


Odd that you loved Ghosts but didn’t buy any more after that!
[indistinct chatter]

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby C » 20 Aug 2021, 16:15

trans-chigley express wrote:I never heard any Strawbs album beyond Ghosts (which I love) though I do have a comp with a few cuts from Nomadness. The reviews so far suggest I'm not missing much.


That's it Ray

Ghosts is the last corker and Nomadness has some good tracks but is only a tad better than adequate.

Downhill from there methinks




.
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 » 20 Aug 2021, 16:38

C wrote:
trans-chigley express wrote:I never heard any Strawbs album beyond Ghosts (which I love) though I do have a comp with a few cuts from Nomadness. The reviews so far suggest I'm not missing much.


That's it Ray

Ghosts is the last corker and Nomadness has some good tracks but is only a tad better than adequate.

Downhill from there methinks
.


So you’re saying they should have stopped recording in the mid 70s, yet with a few gaps they’ve carried on for another 45 years!
[indistinct chatter]

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby C » 20 Aug 2021, 20:35

Neil Jung wrote:
C wrote:
trans-chigley express wrote:I never heard any Strawbs album beyond Ghosts (which I love) though I do have a comp with a few cuts from Nomadness. The reviews so far suggest I'm not missing much.


That's it Ray

Ghosts is the last corker and Nomadness has some good tracks but is only a tad better than adequate.

Downhill from there methinks
.


So you’re saying they should have stopped recording in the mid 70s, yet with a few gaps they’ve carried on for another 45 years!


No my friend - I am not saying that.

It is just that up to Ghosts the albums were robustly great and after that not so much.

Ditto Jethro Tull up to Crest of the Knave

Ditto Pink Floyd up to...(?)

The Rolling Stones up to....(?)

etc

None of the above I would begrudge carrying on but the latter albums didn't have the same/any appeal




.
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 » 21 Aug 2021, 00:25

Image

Image

The timeline gets a little wonky here, as the last record Strawbs released before the above-mentioned hiatus waited almost 20 years for full release. But it started life as their second Arista album. I can't say Heartbreak Hotel, either as conceived, or as eventually released, is a great album, but for Strawbs' prog fans, it's a pretty satisfying one, as it probably stands as their proggiest album, the slick pop sensibilities of Lambert almost nowhere to be found.

This is because Lambert himself was in fact nowhere to be found, having left after recording the lead guitar on lead track "Something for Nothing." Jo Partridge and old pal Miller Anderson fill in nicely, but neither wanted to join permanently. It's also the final Strawbs album produced by Tom Allom.

Any acoustic textures were pretty much completely gone, and Strawbs finally had a full band who were all well-acquainted with keyboard (rather than guitar based) music, time signature and key changes, and more show-offy playing. The best example to my ears is this, which actually reminds me of Relayer-era Yes. It's even over ten minutes long and, though it has 'parts', it's not a multi-part epic, but rather a complex, self-contained song:



Not released at the time, as discussed, but would eventually see the light twice more, once just last year as it was re-released with bonus tracks by Cherry Red Records, who have put out their last several.

Flash forward half a decade (from the recording, not the original release), and Strawbs were invited to reunite to headline the Cambridge Folk Festival, which they did with a lineup consisting of the Grave New World lineup plus Brian WIlloughby. Cousins was still working in radio as his 'regular' job, but Strawbs continued to do the occasional show. As Blue Weaver was unavailable to tour, he was replaced with Hudson-Ford keyboardist Chris Parren, as John Ford moved to the US (to Long Island, where he resides to this day), he was replaced with Rod Demick, Welsh-born and Belfast raised bassist/guitarist, whose first brush with success was on this, which years later would appear on Nuggets 2:



With a lot of interest still remaining, though more in 'pockets', and with a much lower budget as a result, the Cousins/Hooper/Willoughby/Parren/Hudson/Demick band went back into the studio to record the other album shown above, which I'm including because it includes a few of the same songs. There are times when the lower budget makes it simpler and more understated, which is a good thing. Other times it means that bold tracks are less bold; less fully realized. I'll leave it to you to decide which version of this is better, but I imagine at least in its original guise, it was thought of as the 'single.':





But the best track on either, imo, is this, the final track on Don't Say Goodbye, written in the waning days of Strawbs, and containing some of Cousins' best-ever lyrics. Is the retreat from a bad relationship, or a metaphor for him leaving Strawbs behind? It wouldn't surprise me a bit to find the answer is 'yes'.



And again, with all the talk above about when or how Strawbs 'lost it', I will state that I enjoy every single studio album they made after this more than I do Deadlines. But more on that later.
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 21 Aug 2021, 06:07

Oh, I should not fail to mention that Don't Say Goodbye also contains the first appearance of this lovely song, which would stay in the Strawbs repertoire, particularly the acoustic version, for many years to come. And guess who sings it? Evidence that, as proggy as things were getting, they were not ready to leave behind what Tony Hooper brought to the proceedings. This is likely the closest they got to 'old school' Strawbs in the 80s.



It's also co-written by Don Airey (later to replace Jon Lord in Deep Purple), who was also in Strawbs for a very short time.
Footy wrote:
The Who / Jimi Hendrix Experience Saville Theatre, London Jan '67
. Got Jimi's autograph after the show and went on to see him several times that year


1959 1963 1965 1966 1974 1977 1978 1981 1988 2017* 2018 2020!! 2021?

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 21 Aug 2021, 08:41

Image

The Parren/Demick/Hudson version of Strawbs actually went on to last longer than any other combination in their history, though they only recorded one other album during that stretch, and it was a Canadian release only (Strawbs as well as every Strawbs offshoot band, continued to be more successful in Canada than anywhere else). It's another Strawbs-related release that's very rare and expensive as hell if you can ever actually find it, so I haven't hear the whole album.

The title track is, of course, the Sandy Denny tribute.



There doesn't seem to be any video of it, but Cousins later performed it at Cropredy backed by Fairport.

It also features this, though as I've never heard the album I don't know whether it's a different version or not. This one features Maddy Prior, so It's of course glorious.



The year it came out, however, there was a flurry of Strawbs reissues, including the Hannibal (Joe Boyd's label) version of Sandy and the Strawbs, and this CD which I actually have, that goes back to their earliest days:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preserves_Uncanned

Cousins still held a dual career for much of this time, but the occasional Strawbs tour (including one for their 25th anniversary in 1993) with a stable band can't have been too unpleasant for him. But again I say - the best was yet to come.
Footy wrote:
The Who / Jimi Hendrix Experience Saville Theatre, London Jan '67
. Got Jimi's autograph after the show and went on to see him several times that year


1959 1963 1965 1966 1974 1977 1978 1981 1988 2017* 2018 2020!! 2021?

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 21 Aug 2021, 08:49

By the way, for the Canadian only album, to fit Canadian union rules requiring a certain amount of Canadian content, Strawbs did one of the few covers they'd ever performed. For reasons that are not quite clear they chose to cover this, by what I'm told is a legendary Toronto band (I can't find the Strawbs version anywhere).:

Footy wrote:
The Who / Jimi Hendrix Experience Saville Theatre, London Jan '67
. Got Jimi's autograph after the show and went on to see him several times that year


1959 1963 1965 1966 1974 1977 1978 1981 1988 2017* 2018 2020!! 2021?

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby trans-chigley express » 23 Aug 2021, 05:53

Neil Jung wrote:
trans-chigley express wrote:I never heard any Strawbs album beyond Ghosts (which I love) though I do have a comp with a few cuts from Nomadness. The reviews so far suggest I'm not missing much.


Odd that you loved Ghosts but didn’t buy any more after that!


I never bought their albums in chronological order, but in a somewhat random sequence as and when I saw them so I probably just wasn't aware that what albums came after Ghosts. I would have bought Ghosts many years before I bought Dragonfly for example.

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby C » 23 Aug 2021, 12:10

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 » 28 Aug 2021, 21:02

Just to get us up to date through the 90s -

Image

There was a second Cousins/Willoughby album released on Road Goes on Forever in 1994. I've never heard it. That's because it was a limited release that, once it sold out, joined the list of Strawbs-related items that were very expensive - if you could find them. But it's practically a Strawbs album, considering how many members (plus Mary Hopkin) guest on it.

In 1995, RGoF also finally issued Heartbreak Hill. There were also four live albums released: Greatest Hits Live, recorded in 1990, Strawbs in Concert and Concert Classics, both drawn from 1970s BBC shows (given Cousins' dual career in radio, it shouldn't be too surprising that the band appeared numerous times on the Beeb), and finally, The Complete Strawbs, from their 30-year reunion show in 1998. It is not complete as far as repertoire, but rather of representation, as most previous band members of every era took part. John Hawken, Andy Richards and Rick Wakeman did not attend due to previous commitments, but Adam Wakeman, Rick's son, did his first show with Strawbs. It wouldn't be his last. Original bassist Ron Chesterman and late-70s drummer Tony Fernandez were there but didn't take part (in the case of Fernandez, it was allegedly because a left-handed drum set could not be found!)

The 30th Anniversary show, was videotaped in addition to being recorded, so a commercial DVD was also released in 2002.

Cousins muses in his book that between 1965 and 1980, he had written upwards of 200 songs, but between 1980 and 2000, the total was about seven. But between Cousins and WIlloughby's reconnection with the folk scene and the big anniversaries, other than a slight lull during the early 2000s, there's been an active Strawbs ever since.

It seemed like rotten luck at the time, but when Cousins fell and broke his wrist sometime around the turn of the millennium, leaving him unable to play guitar for a planned tour, it ushered in (imo) their best period since the 70s. Dave Lambert came back to the fold, turning the Cousins/Willoughby duo into a trio, and with Cousins limiting himself to vocal duties, toured with the newly formed Acoustic Strawbs. Once Cousins recovered well enough to play again, they would go on to record what is some of my favorite Strawbs-related work with a blend of just acoustic guitars and voices.

Fortunately, this particular trio was quite good at it.
Footy wrote:
The Who / Jimi Hendrix Experience Saville Theatre, London Jan '67
. Got Jimi's autograph after the show and went on to see him several times that year


1959 1963 1965 1966 1974 1977 1978 1981 1988 2017* 2018 2020!! 2021?

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby C » 08 Sep 2021, 16:40

toomanyhatz wrote:Oh, I should not fail to mention that Don't Say Goodbye also contains the first appearance of this lovely song, which would stay in the Strawbs repertoire, particularly the acoustic version, for many years to come. And guess who sings it? Evidence that, as proggy as things were getting, they were not ready to leave behind what Tony Hooper brought to the proceedings. This is likely the closest they got to 'old school' Strawbs in the 80s.



It's also co-written by Don Airey (later to replace Jon Lord in Deep Purple), who was also in Strawbs for a very short time.


Yes - delightful

Robust and full off music

[Evidence that it was co-written by Airey please Matt...]



.
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 » 14 Sep 2021, 07:11

I didn't hear it till a few years later, but this is what reignited my interest in Strawbs (or most of it, anyway):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmWoy_lIQLo&list=PLdktF-lL0yEbLgTww3o7OArY7lC0y2azO

I will be back to say more about it, but it may be one of only 2 or 3 Strawbs releases on which I at least like every single song.

It must have been 2004 when I saw them at the Bottom Line in New York. They were great. They were not as great at McCabe's a few years later, after Brian Willoughby had been replaced by Chas Cronk. But Acoustic Strawbs turned out to be a great move for them. It got Cousins writing again, and they could travel more steadily and cheaply.
Footy wrote:
The Who / Jimi Hendrix Experience Saville Theatre, London Jan '67
. Got Jimi's autograph after the show and went on to see him several times that year


1959 1963 1965 1966 1974 1977 1978 1981 1988 2017* 2018 2020!! 2021?

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby C » 14 Sep 2021, 17:42

toomanyhatz wrote:It must have been 2004 when I saw them at the Bottom Line in New York. They were great. They were not as great at McCabe's a few years later, after Brian Willoughby had been replaced by Chas Cronk. But Acoustic Strawbs turned out to be a great move for them. It got Cousins writing again, and they could travel more steadily and cheaply.


Yes, a very good album.

I saw them twice both times with Chas (although I did see Cousins & Willoughby years earlier as mentioned elsewhere)

Robust stuff




.
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!