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Music Reviews


This 2-disc release contains two Strawbs albums that were previously unavailable on CD, 1976’s “Deep Cuts” and 1977’s “Burning For You.” This release is made by the independent Road Goes On Forever label, as A&M Records apparently has no interest in re-releasing the entire Strawbs back catalog on compact disc. The original cover art of both albums is combined on this release and complete lyrics are included in the disc booklet. The result is an all-around excellent package design that obviously involved someone who cared about what they were doing.

Both albums are from the band’s more commercial-oriented years and contain legitimate attempts at producing a hit song. The long prog-rock suites are not here, with most tracks residing comfortably within the 4-minute, unwritten, limit for radio air play.

“Deep Cuts” is a bit mellower than “Burning For You” but contains some great songwriting efforts by the band, whose lineup consisted of Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert, Chas Cronk, and Rod Coombes. “My Friend Peter”, “Simple Visions”, “Charmer”, “Beside The Rio Grand”, and “The Soldier’s Tale” are all classic Strawbs tunes that should be in any Strawbs fan’s collection.

“Burning For You” was recorded by the same lineup as “Deep Cuts” and contains two tracks, “Cut Like A Diamond” and “Heartbreaker,” which could have been among rock’s classics. “Cut Like A Diamond,” in particular, represents the Strawbs at their rocking best. It’s a powerful band-driven song that emphasizes Dave Cousins excellent, but jagged, vocal style. It also happens to be a vocal style that he is still fully capable of performing live, as was evidenced on his last US tour in 1994.

“Deep Cuts” and “Burning For You” were both well-regarded by critics at the time of their original release but nonetheless failed to find a larger audience for the band. The Strawbs style, which can be best described as residing somewhere between folk and progressive rock, just didn’t fit into most radio formats. They were too progressive for the folk crowd and too folkie for the progressive rock crowd. Having an original style is great but it usually means that you don’t fit into anybody’s ideas about music formats, and are thus left out in cold. The Strawbs had an original sound and paid the price for not changing it. One of the benefits of being original is that your music always sounds fresh, even after the band is no more. The Strawbs entire catalog thus has a place in any serious prog-rock or folk-rock collection.

Independent releases are not always able to be kept in print, so if you’re a Strawbs fan I recommend that you pick up a copy of this one while you can. It can be ordered through most import dealers, through the Strawbs webpage (listed to the left of this article), or directly from Road Goes On Forever/Witchwood Collection, PO Box 12, Barnet Herts, EN4 8PT, England.