Strawbs – Same (1969)

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Strawbs is the debut studio album by English band Strawbs. (The Sandy Denny & The Strawbs LP All Our Own Work released in Denmark is generally not counted.)

Not initially issued in the US, US A&M did issue two singles (“Oh How She’s Changed” b/w “Or Am I Dreaming”, and “The Man Who Called Himself Jesus” b/w “Poor Jimmy Wilson”). (by wikipedia)

The Strawbs had done an album with Sandy Denny handling many of the vocals, and had also done quite a bit of unreleased recordings (now on the double CD Preserves Uncanned) prior to 1969’s Strawbs. This is still their first proper album, but their wealth of prior live and studio experience most likely helped make it sound more confident and fully formed than many a debut effort. The group distinguished itself among the burgeoning school of British folk-rockers by delivering bittersweet folk-rock with a storytelling flavor. Dave Cousins’ songwriting was on the sober and occasionally over-earnest side, but nonetheless the record was strong and alluring enough to immediately establish the Strawbs as one of the better first-generation U.K. folk-rock outfits. Some of Strawbs1969.jpgthese songs had been around for a while, as the presence of some of them on Preserves Uncanned and Sandy Denny & the Strawbs attests. However, the group took big strides from bare-bones folk-rock in the studio by dressing these in arrangements — sometimes with light recorder, choral backup vocals, and orchestration — that gave the Elizabethan melodies a pastoral, quasi-classical feel at times, without losing sight of an acoustic base. “The Man Who Called Himself Jesus” and “Where Is This Dream of Your Youth” are among their best and most ambitious songs, and even if the compositions can sometimes take themselves too seriously, the music’s never less than respectable. (by by Richie Unterberger)

Strawbs are best known as the literate prog band in the early seventies that achieved some US success, but before that, they started as a cute little London-based bluegrass three-piece, The Strawberry Hill Boys, before falling into the psych scene, like everyone else, and putting out a pre-prog series of stunning psych-folk albums, of which this debut is a fine example. David Cousins was quite proudly poetic, wordy and a bit pompous in his exploration of Romantic, mystical and gothic themes. But he pulls it off with aplomb! The music is usually acoustic, slow, ponderous, and augmented by cello and other strings, giving a pastoral, pleasantly dated feel.

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There’s really not a duff track here, but it’s when sounding Brontë-esque and dark that the album’s at its best on songs like “That Which Once Was Mine.” Second guitarist Tony Hooper’s choirboy voice is featured beautifully on the symphonic “Oh How She Changed“. Cousins is at his worst in an overly long ballad based on a chess match (“The Battle”) but at his best when tripping out on the poppy “Where Is This Dream of Your Youth” and the Middle Eastern-music-influenced “Tell Me What You See in Me”. A longtime favourite of mine, this record doesn’t just transport me to 1969 with its mystical, misty vibe — it goes back way further! (by makeyourowntaste.com)

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Personnel:
Ron Chesterman (bass)
Dave Cousins (guitar, vocals)
Tony Hooper (guitar, vocals)
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Nicky Hopkins (piano)
John Paul Jones (bass)
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Richard Wilson (spoken words)
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Norati and his Arab Friends – Arab string section on 05.)

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Tracklist:
01. The Man Who Called Himself Jesus (Cousins) 3.56
02. That Which Once Was Mine (Cousins) 2.50
03. All The Little Ladies (Cousins/Hooper) 2.19
04. Pieces Of 79 And 15 (Cousins/Hooper) 3.00
05. Tell Me What You See In Me (Cousins) 5.01
06. Oh How She Changed (Cousins/Hooper) 2.55
07. Or Am I Dreaming? (Cousins) 2.27
08. Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth (Cousins) 3.08
09. Poor Jimmy Wilson (Cousins) 2.38
10. Where Am I? / I’ll Show You Where to Sleep (Cousins) 3.27
11. The Battle (Cousins) 6.34

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Much more great albums by A & M Records

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