Strawbs – Ghosts (1975)

FrontCover1Ghosts is the 7th studio album by English band Strawbs.

Ghosts was the last album by the Strawbs to appear while the band was on its upward curve of commercial success; a more lyrical follow-up to Hero and Heroine, it was the group’s last thrust at wide-audience appeal, with a hoped for-hit (“Lemon Pie”) that didn’t materialize. The group’s mix of acoustic guitars, electric lead and bass, and Rod Coombes’ heavy drumming was very compelling on this, their smoothest album. The title track introduction, mixing multiple overdubbed harpsichords, acoustic guitars, and church bells was a gorgeous beginning, and the melodies only got better further into the album. The hauntingly beautiful “Starshine/Angel Wine” was a magnificent successor to “Lay Down” off of Bursting at the Seams, with a moment of Led Zeppelin-like flash from Dave Lambert’s playing in the break, while “The Life Auction” was a bigger, bolder follow-up to “The Hangman and the Papist.” The original finale, “Grace Darling,” is probably the prettiest tune Dave Cousins ever wrote. Alas, Ghosts would be the group’s last record to be released before the changes in music — with the introduction of punk rock in the middle of the ’70s — began hemming them in, and they never again put out an album with as much panache as this. Previously available on CD only from Japan, in 1998 Ghosts was reissued by A&M in England with a sharp, clean digital sound that greatly enhanced the rich textures of the playing, and one bonus track, Coombes’ unexpectedly lyrical “Changes Arrange Us,” which had previously been available only as a single B-side (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Rod Coombes (drums, percussion background vocals)
Dave Cousins (vocals, guitar, recorder)
Chas Cronk (bass, guitar, background vocals)
John Hawken (keyboards, harpsichord, synthesizer)
Dave Lambert (vocals, guitar)
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Claire Deniz – cello on “Starshine/Angel Wine”
Robert Kirby – choral arrangements

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Tracklist:
01. Ghosts (Cousins) 8.31
01.1. Sweet Dreams
01.2. Night Light
01.3. Guardian Angel
01.4. Night Light
02. Lemon Pie (Cousins) 4.03
03. Starshine/Angel Wine (Cronk) 5.15
04. Where Do You Go (When You Need A Hole To Crawl In) (Cousins) 3.02
05. The Life Auction 6.52
05.1. Impressions Of Southall From The Train (Cousins/Hawken)
05.2. The Auction (Cousins/Lambert)
06. Don’t Try To Change Me (Lambert) 4.28
07. Remembering (Hawken) 0.54
08. You And I (When We Were Young) (Cousins) 4.04
09. Grace Darling (Cousins) 3.55
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10. Changes Arrange Us (Coombes) 3.55

(Unusually, Rod Coombes sings lead vocals on this track and plays guitar)

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The Strawbs – In Concert At The Paris Theatre London (1971)

FrontCover1This concert is known to be the last with Rick Wakeman on keyboard, before he joined Yes, replacing Tony Kaye. Not a bad thing he left I must say, since he’s often totally out of subject with his progressive-epic approach of keyboards, more Keith Emerson than Matthew Fisher. Recorded one year after the Queen Elizabeth Hall concert that gave the Antiques and Curios album, it shows how the band grew confident, often not for the best, some versions being quite weak. Others are great such as “The Shepherd’s Song”. But it’s clear that the band was going away from his folk roots, and it’s no surprise Tony Hooper was living his last months with the band. All in all, an unavoidable addition to any Strawbs collection. (by dkandroughmix-forgottensongs.blogspot)

This is maybe not the best period of The Strawbs … but even in this difficult Phase (you know Rick Wakeman leave the band to join Yes 1), it´s a superb album from a real great band !

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Personnel:
Dave Cousins (vocals, guitar, banjo, dulcimer)
John Ford (bass, vocals)
Tony Hooper (guitar, vocals)
Richard Hudson (drums, Percussion, vocals)
Rock Wakeman (keyboards)
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Tracklist:
01. Hangman And The Papist 4.19
02. Martin Luther King’s Dream 3.00
03, A Glimpse Of Heaven 4.00
04. Witchwood 3.13
05. In Amongst The Roses 4.17
06. R.M.W. 5.06
07. Flower And The Young Man 5.11
08. Fingertips 5.56
09. The Shepherd’s Song 4.52
10. When You Wore A Tulip 2.08
11. Sheep 11.18

All Songs written by Dave Cousins

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