Strawbs (or The Strawbs) are an English rock band founded in 1964 as the Strawberry Hill Boys. The band started out as a bluegrass group, but eventually moved on to other styles such as folk rock, progressive rock, and (briefly) glam rock.
They are best known for their hit “Part of the Union”, which reached number two in the UK Singles Chart in February 1973, as well as for “Lay Down”, a popular progressive rock hit from the same LP. Strawbs toured with Supertramp in their “Crime of the Century” tour, doing their own “Hero and Heroine” tour, which drew musical similarities and themes.
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
Find sources: “Strawbs” – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Strawbs formed in 1964 as the Strawberry Hill Boys while the founder members were at St Mary’s Teacher Training College, Strawberry Hill, London. The name was shortened to ‘The Strawbs’ for a June 1967 concert in which they wanted to display the band name on stage. Their long-time leader and most active songwriter is guitarist and singer Dave Cousins (guitar, dulcimer, banjo, vocals) (born David Joseph Hindson, 7 January 1945, Hounslow, Middlesex). In the early days Strawbs played with Sandy Denny (later lead singer of Fairport Convention and Fotheringay).
Although they started out in the 1960s as a bluegrass band the band’s repertoire shifted to favour their own (mainly Cousins’) material. While in Denmark in 1967, the Strawbs (Cousins, Tony Hooper and Ron Chesterman) with Sandy Denny recorded 13 songs for a proposed first album, All Our Own Work. It was apparently not issued in Denmark and the fledgling band could not get a UK record deal. (Meanwhile, Denny left to join Fairport Convention and the album was forgotten until it was issued on Pickwick Hallmark in the UK in the mid-1970s.)
They were the first UK group signing to Herb Alpert’s A&M Records and recorded their first single, “Oh How She Changed” in 1968, which was produced and arranged by Gus Dudgeon and Tony Visconti, who also worked on their critically acclaimed first album, Strawbs (1969). Between the first and second A&M albums, in 1969, a sampler, Strawberry Music Sampler No. 1 was recorded. According to the 2001 CD reissue, only 99 copies of the original vinyl LP were pressed up.
After the folk-tinged Dragonfly, Cousins and Hooper added Rick Wakeman on keyboards, Richard Hudson on drums, and John Ford on bass. The new line-up had their London debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, where they recorded their third album, Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios; the Melody Maker reported on the concert with the headline “Tomorrow’s superstar” in reference to Wakeman. Wakeman stayed with them for one further album, From the Witchwood, then departed to join Yes, remarking to the press that “I’m sure we’ll all benefit from the split because we were beginning to compromise a lot on ideas – like we’d use half of my ideas and half of theirs – and I don’t think it was helping what was eventually coming out. We ended up lacking challenge. Complacency set in, and for the last couple of months we just weren’t working.” (wikipedia)
From the Witchwood is the third album by the English band Strawbs. It was recorded at Air Studios in London during February and March 1971 and reached number 39 in the UK Albums Chart on 17 July 1971.
The album is the third and final album to include Rick Wakeman, including his appearance as a session musician on the 1970 album Dragonfly. The sleeve illustration was “The Vision of St. Jerome”, a tapestry from the Spanish Royal Collection. (wikipedia)
This album was originally the weak link in the transition of the Strawbs from an acoustic folk-rock outfit to a progressive folk band, being neither fish nor fowl and suffering from an anemic mix. The 1998 British reissue (A&M 540-939-2), however, solves some inherent problems that plagued both the original vinyl edition and the first CD reissues. The new remastering toughens up the bass sound, and brings out more of the sheer power of Rick Wakeman’s organ and synthesizer playing, accenting the harder side of the group’s sound that was obviously there in the studio but lacking in the analog mix. “A Glimpse of Heaven” and “The Hangman and the Papist,” in particular, benefit from the remastering, and “Sheep” finally has the musical fury to match its lyrics.
Dave Cousins’ voice also comes off as really close, and the effect is to make this a much more potent album than it previously seemed. Overall, it’s now far easier to visualize this recording as the step leading to full-blown progressive rock releases such as Grave New World, which followed. The disc includes one bonus track, John Ford’s “Keep the Devil Outside,” which has an acoustic opening and a hard rock break and finale, which was cut at these same sessions, and which turned up months later as the B-side of “Benedictus,” a single drawn from the next album. (by Bruce Eder)
Dave Cousins (guitar, vocals, dulcimer, banjo, recorder)
John Ford (bass, vocals)
Tony Hooper (guitar, autoharp, percussion,vocals)
Richard Hudson (drums, sitar, vocals)
Rick Wakeman (keyboards, synthesizer)
The Choir and Congregation of Air Strawb (choir on 01.)
01. A Glimpse Of Heaven (Cousins) 3.50
02. Witchwood (Cousins) 3.24
03. Thirty Days (Ford) 2.53
04. Flight (Hudson) 4.24
05. The Hangman And The Papist (Cousins) 4.12
06. Sheep (Cousins) 4.16
07. Canon Dale (Hudson) 3.46
08. The Shepherd’s Song (Cousins) 4.33
09. In Amongst The Roses (Cousins) 3.48
10. I’ll Carry On Beside You (Cousins) 3.10
11. Keep The Devil Outside (Ford) 3.02
The official website: