As Strawbs move gracefully into their fifth decade of music making, it is still difficult to categorise the unique sound that has made them Britain’s most successful international progressive folk-rock band.
David Cousins, who leads the group, has been described by the influential All Music Guide as: “the most talented Dylan influenced songwriter to come out of England”. Strawbs are often mentioned in the same breath as progressive rock bands like Yes, King Crimson, and the Moody Blues. It is well documented that Rick Wakeman left Strawbs to join Yes but returned to appear at Strawbs 40th Anniversary Celebration.
However, beyond progressive rock, Strawbs have another key component in their complex and intricate songs, in that they emerged out of the British Folk movement of the mid-1960s. The band started life as the Strawberry Hill Boys playing bluegrass, before moving into the mainstream by making the first Strawbs album with Sandy Denny in 1967, a year before she recorded her first album with Fairport Convention. The recording with Sandy attracted the attention of A&M Records in Los Angeles who signed Strawbs as the first British band on the label!
Strawbs has a devoted fan base that continues to grow on the strength of albums like Grave New World, Bursting At The Seams, Hero And Heroine, and Ghosts, and classic songs such as Lay Down, A Glimpse Of Heaven, and Benedictus.
Acoustic Strawbs comprise David Cousins, along with lead guitarist Dave Lambert, and the astonishingly versatile Chas Cronk, who together formed the front-line of the classic 1970s line-up of the band.
Acoustic Strawbs shows receive rave reviews:
“Carefully selecting their repertoire from less than obvious sources
they invest the rarely performed material
with considerable energy and thoughtful arrangements.”
“Hearing the brilliant Strawbs [at the Edmonton Folk Festival]
was like a tutorial in UK folk music
from the past 40 years.
“Unlike many groups that are past their commercial prime and churn out inferior,
dispirited versions of the hits from their glory days,
the Acoustic Strawbs stand out as a band that performs their old material
with passion and precision. Furthermore, they have broken new ground
by harnessing the power of their electric incarnation in an acoustic setting.”
“Tell me what you see in me revealed it to be a virtual blueprint
for the harmonies and arrangements of the entire Styx catalogue.
Oh how she changed, similarly, sounded like a vocal model
for latter day bands like Fleet Foxes.”
(Schenectady Times Union)