Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby slightbreeze » 28 Jul 2021, 17:13

"Grave new world" is a fine album, but suffers because it opens with "Benedictus", one of their finest ever songs. The rest of the album seems to be playing catch up. Still, a strong album, definitely in my top 5. Maybe top 4. Maybe ....top 3

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 28 Jul 2021, 23:22

Image

Anybody else find it the ugliest of all Strawbs covers?

As usual, the irony is thick. The irony followed them for their entire career. This is easily their most successful record. It spanned not one but two giant hit records, made #2 on the UK album charts (again only reaching the lower reaches in the US, but at that time their most successful yet), and propelled them to basically one of the most successful bands in the UK.

It also tore them apart (perhaps inevitably) into two factions. The simplified version is that it was a battle between Cousins' epics and Hudson/Ford's (as they were now one entity legally) hitmaking ability. But it was never quite that simple.

Years later, with cooler heads prevailed, all sides have said it could have been worked out - to quote Cousins, their management "should have banged our heads together and told us to work out a solution." But at the time, they were too busy having a gigantic hit that was suddenly everywhere - and it was not written by Cousins.

I try not to resent it. God knows Hudson and Ford had earned the right to have more of their songs grace the albums, and I like the albums they did after departing, and "Heavy Disguise" is a wonderful (and even very Strawbs-like) song. But probably still to this day there are music fans going..."oh yeah, Strawbs. Weren't they the "Part of the Union" guys?" They were even marketed as a glam band, which, while they did have a certain sense of style, and Hudson and Ford were capable hit makers, and Lambert had that legendary blonde flash, was never going to be much of a fit musically.

The worst part of it for me is, despite the absurd marketing (which only worked in the short run), it's a great record. The 'other' Hudson/Ford song (they had just formed the entity, and like Lennon/McCartney, it was an agreed to 50/50 partnership regardless of who wrote what), "Lady Fuschia," is lovely, the "prog epic" this time, "The River/Down by the Sea" (banded separately, and in reverse order on the LP, but done together, and in that order, ever since) is glorious, complete with Robert Kirby's most powerful orchestration yet, and the 'renaissance rock' suite, "Tears and Pavan," is to this day one of their most popular numbers:



The second hit, "Lay Down," is a common onstage encore to this day, and it's often forgotten that it was a pretty huge hit too. But for me "the one that got away" is this one, which I think might have been a single too but didn't do as well as the first two. It's a great song (about, as I hear it, a hike under the influence of psychedelics) and for those who thought Cousins was exclusively about the epics, it's pretty dang poppy:



It's only in retrospect that it's looked back on as the record that tore them apart. Cousins has categorically denied there was any tension in the making of it, only in its aftermath. And new guitarist Lambert fitted in quite well indeed, and was appropriate for the sound they were going for (and as wonderful as he was, Tony Hooper was most certainly not).

They were suddenly on top of the world. Then just as suddenly, they were in complete chaos.

The UK would never again be quite as warm to them. But their reputation in North America (they were probably always bigger in Canada than the US) was growing quickly.
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby slightbreeze » 28 Jul 2021, 23:44

Even R.E.O. Speedwagon would have rejected that cover

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Mike Boom » 29 Jul 2021, 03:48

Listened to this today. Horrible cover yes, which is a pity because it’s great. Love “ Stormy Down “ ,”The River “, “Down by the Sea” and just how great is “Lay Down”. Always sounds better than you think it will because of that cover. Still not even sure what they were going for there.

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 29 Jul 2021, 04:39

Also, the bonus tracks on the Bursting CD are probably the best ones of any of the A&M albums. Gorgeous version of "Wild Mountain Thyme" (they call it "Will You Go") with, possibly, Cousins' best singing ever. The tone when he sings "surely I wiiilll find ano-therrr!!" Gives me chills. B-side of "Part of the Union" (I actually purchased a copy of the UK single just to get this well before it was released on CD):



Then there's the B-side of "Lay Down." I'm not sure what to say about this one. :lol: I guess it's amusing. Cousins making fun of his old Hounslow Arts mate David Bowie. It's certainly unlike anything else they ever did, and another Strawbs irony - the closest they ever got to being an actual glam band was in a parody version. (The single was actually credited to "Ciggy Barlust and the Whales From Venus." Umm...OK...):

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


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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Neil Jung » 29 Jul 2021, 09:53

Was Cousins making fun of Bowie? I’ve always thought it a pretty unpleasant song.

I didn’t think much of Cousins solo album apart from Blue Angel. I’ve owned it for decades. Maybe I’ll give it another play.

Bursting At The Seams was I think the seventh LP I ever bought and I love it to this day. The Winter And The Summer and Lady Fuschia are both gorgeous. The epics Down By The Sea and The River are just, erm, epic. Of course there is a clunker. There’s always one. It finishes with Thank You, Dave and some school kids. Why?
[indistinct chatter]

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby C » 29 Jul 2021, 12:59

Part of the Union is a disgrace

No wonder Cousins had a breakdown



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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Neil Jung » 29 Jul 2021, 18:23

C wrote:Part of the Union is a disgrace

No wonder Cousins had a breakdown
.


I’ve seen them live many times, probably more than any other artist with the possible exception of Steve Hackett. They do occasionally play Part Of The Union live.
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Neil Jung » 29 Jul 2021, 18:29

There’s a copy of Dave Cousins biography on eBay.co.UK for £84! I’d like to read it but not at that price.
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 29 Jul 2021, 18:32

Re: PotU - There's actually an officially released live version with Cousins singing! I don't think he hates it. I think he's found his peace with it.

I'm not convinced he had a breakdown. He certainly had a temper tantrum, which he admits to in the book. It happened in LA! And cost him thousands of dollars. He basically kicked all the poolside furniture into the pool at a Beverly Hills hotel upon being told that he was fired from Strawbs. Hudson and Ford and management were sitting in the pool with a tray of champagne floating between them to celebrate that decision. I think many people would have reacted similarly.

Speaking of the book, if you can ever find it for less than a mint (which is pretty hard to do - I got lucky) I highly suggest reading it. It's well-written and entertaining. And part of the reason for that is that he doesn't always portray himself as the hero. He admits to a lot of stubbornness, philandering, mistreatment of others, and bad decisions, including said tantrum. In between bragging a lot about his high-powered friends and great successes, of course. :D

I've never met the man (has anyone here?) but the book made me like him more as an artist but probably less as a person.
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 29 Jul 2021, 18:40

Neil Jung wrote:There’s a copy of Dave Cousins biography on eBay.co.UK for £84! I’d like to read it but not at that price.


Damn cheap compared to most of the prices I've seen. I got it for less than that, but I REALLY lucked out.

I also really want to own "Secrets, Songs and Stories," which is the complete lyrics along with more autobiographical details tied to them (and a CD of him doing a reading of some of the lyrics and a couple poems) but it is similarly prohibitively expensive.

Dying to read it, but for $400 and up? No.

If you're in the UK, it can be found in some libraries. Trinity College in Dublin has two copies! :D
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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 » 29 Jul 2021, 18:57

I met DC after a gig at High Wycombe Town Hall. Of course I thanked him for all the wonderful music and I asked him how he chose which songs to play live. He gave some vague reply and didn’t seem interested in talking to me. I was disappointed and haven’t risked meeting or talking to any other of my heroes since.
Chris LMG had a long talk with him once, DC being interested because Chris hadn’t discovered Strawbs until recently. I expect he’ll pop along to relay the tale shortly.
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Hightea » 29 Jul 2021, 19:56

Neil Jung wrote:I met DC after a gig at High Wycombe Town Hall. Of course I thanked him for all the wonderful music and I asked him how he chose which songs to play live. He gave some vague reply and didn’t seem interested in talking to me. I was disappointed and haven’t risked meeting or talking to any other of my heroes since.
Chris LMG had a long talk with him once, DC being interested because Chris hadn’t discovered Strawbs until recently. I expect he’ll pop along to relay the tale shortly.


I met both DC and Lambert - DC just signed the CD and wanted nothing to do with me. We talked to Lambert for a good 10 minutes including about Guinness Stout and about the beautiful town they were playing in (Sparta -western NJ) it was right on Lake Mohawk.

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Neil Jung » 29 Jul 2021, 20:12

Hightea wrote:
Neil Jung wrote:I met DC after a gig at High Wycombe Town Hall. Of course I thanked him for all the wonderful music and I asked him how he chose which songs to play live. He gave some vague reply and didn’t seem interested in talking to me. I was disappointed and haven’t risked meeting or talking to any other of my heroes since.
Chris LMG had a long talk with him once, DC being interested because Chris hadn’t discovered Strawbs until recently. I expect he’ll pop along to relay the tale shortly.


I met both DC and Lambert - DC just signed the CD and wanted nothing to do with me. We talked to Lambert for a good 10 minutes including about Guinness Stout and about the beautiful town they were playing in (Sparta -western NJ) it was right on Lake Mohawk.

Image


I’m glad it’s not just me then! I forgot to mention that I also met Dave Lambert at the same concert and he was friendly, as was the late Tony Hooper when I met him on another occasion.
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Hightea » 29 Jul 2021, 20:23

Neil Jung wrote:
Hightea wrote:
Neil Jung wrote:I met DC after a gig at High Wycombe Town Hall. Of course I thanked him for all the wonderful music and I asked him how he chose which songs to play live. He gave some vague reply and didn’t seem interested in talking to me. I was disappointed and haven’t risked meeting or talking to any other of my heroes since.
Chris LMG had a long talk with him once, DC being interested because Chris hadn’t discovered Strawbs until recently. I expect he’ll pop along to relay the tale shortly.


I met both DC and Lambert - DC just signed the CD and wanted nothing to do with me. We talked to Lambert for a good 10 minutes including about Guinness Stout and about the beautiful town they were playing in (Sparta -western NJ) it was right on Lake Mohawk.

Image


I’m glad it’s not just me then! I forgot to mention that I also met Dave Lambert at the same concert and he was friendly, as was the late Tony Hooper when I met him on another occasion.

My brother was the house photographer and its typical to get the band after the show to pose for a picture. Cousins was a pain in the ass to him too and he had to get the manager to get them together.

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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 30 Jul 2021, 01:38

Image

And now, for your complete one-stop Hudson-Ford evaluation! The above is new, and is probably all you need. There's one post-A&M album that I'm aware of, but it's not very good as I remember, and is hard to find on top of that.

Fresh from the hugeness of "Part of the Union," the newly-formed duo left Strawbs, signed a multi-album deal, and in short order had their first (and only) top ten hit. All parts allegedly played by the duo, despite the hilariously bad mime here:



I've always loved it, from the percussive bass to the simple four-on-the-floor beat to the Lennon vocal imitation, complete with reverbed "ah-ah-ah." It probably wouldn't have worked as well in the context of Strawbs.

There is plenty on the first album, Nickelodeon, however, that would, from the pub singalong "Hello, I Thought You Were Dead" to the Cousins-esque epic "Dark Lord" (with rather sillier lyrics than Cousins would allow to make the cut, probably), to the Hudson eastern influence that informs the lovely "Solitude."

The second, Free Spirit, is more of the same combo of folkie melodies, Beatlish pop and prog moves. It did produce one minor hit. it's...nice:



The last, Worlds Collide, muddled by some vague science-fiction concepts, is a lot less interesting, but it does have this credible Bee Gees imitation:



The duo also had a couple future hits in other guises, as well as occasionally (mostly separately) returning to the Strawbs fold in the ensuing decades. But more on that later.
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


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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby toomanyhatz » 30 Jul 2021, 18:41

-INTERMISSION-

Comments on the above are of course still welcome, just letting you know that what I consider 'the big change' happens here and I'm going to give it some time before continuing with the original albums. Hero and Heroine is a pretty important one.

As for the departed members other than Hudson and Ford:

Well, we know what happens with Wakeman.

Tony Hooper stayed in the music business in a low-key way - in publishing and production - for many years after. He would return to the Strawbs fold, and his second stay was actually longer than his first! So more on him later. He died late last year.
Ron Chesterman joined Noel Murphy in a band called Draught Porridge (future Elton guitarist Davey Johnstone was also a member) and later became an archivist in his home town of Chester.
Blue Weaver joined the Bee Gees and was their keyboardist throughout the very profitable 'disco years.' He has some song credits, so I imagine he doesn't need to work another day in his life if he chooses not to. He produced the Strawbs' most recent album recorded in lockdown. (Which will be covered, of course. But it'll be a while.)
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


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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby Neige » 31 Jul 2021, 07:38

toomanyhatz wrote:Then there's the B-side of "Lay Down." I'm not sure what to say about this one. :lol: I guess it's amusing. Cousins making fun of his old Hounslow Arts mate David Bowie. It's certainly unlike anything else they ever did, and another Strawbs irony - the closest they ever got to being an actual glam band was in a parody version. (The single was actually credited to "Ciggy Barlust and the Whales From Venus." Umm...OK...):



Never heard that before - the song, the story, the credit. Cheers, hatz, I really enjoyed that! :P

I starts out like a rather rocky but typical DC storytelling song, next comes a real nice guitar break and then it simply peters out instead of reverting to the chorus.

And backside - Uranus - haha :roll:

And thanks for reacquainting me with Hudson Ford, I think I'll buy the set if I find it cheap.
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Re: Strawbs & the Many Lives of Dave Cousins

Postby C » 31 Jul 2021, 23:25

toomanyhatz wrote:




Hudson: 'No, honest Dave, we've written some really fab songs that'll sit nicely between the likes of Hangman and the Papist and Benedictus'

Cousins: 'Sounds exciting - let me have a listen'

Ford puts on the above track:

After 20 seconds....

Ford: Richard, I think Dave has fainted

Hudson: He has John but his whispering something

Ford puts ear to Cousins's lips

Whispering Cousins: Fucque me, this is absolute bollocks!

Hudson & Ford in unison: 'get a grip cloths-ears, it's a guaranteed hit....!

Exit stage to ring 999








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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 » 02 Aug 2021, 08:17

It was certainly clear to all that it wasn't working. Blue Weaver had enough and quit. Good move. Hudson and Ford left to do Hudson-Ford. Also good move, at least for a while. Lambert expressed a preference to go with the other Dave, under the condition that (and this is quoting Cousins) "It not be Dave Cousins and his backing band." Cousins has observed this ever since, always making sure all the musicians he worked with have a hand in the songwriting. Frankly it's not always for the best.

Nonetheless the fractured group carried on. After brief consideration of adopting Ten Years After's rhythm section, the duo of Daves added bassist Chas Cronk, former Nashville Teens keyboardist John Hawken (most famous for, in addition to being a fabulous classically trained pianist who played beautifully on the first Renaissance album, being hung out a window by Sharon Osbourne's father), and former Stealer's Wheel drummer Rod Coombes. They were more chops-oriented players than the previous rhythm section (though Cronk has a really inobtrusive style and has done some very lyrical playing for Strawbs). Though there'd continue to be a fair amount of diversity in the music, they officially become a prog band here.

The two Daves met Cronk, at least, on this. It's Barry DeSouza on drums, but Cousins, Cronk and Lambert are all on what might be my favorite Wakeman solo piece ever. Cousins does the electric banjo solo bit around 1:37, and Cronk and Lambert are on bass and rhythm acoustic respectively. It boded well for the upcoming Strawbs album, which they started recording in late 1973.

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?