Not originally intended for release as a single, John Hawken's flowing piano intro marked out the third section of the haunting opening track of the album "Autumn" as a possible single success and was rushed out accordingly.
Released on 31 May 1974, the B-side was the track "Where Do You Go" recorded at the same time as "Shine On Silver Sun", also as a possible single release. "Where Do You Go" was also included on the next album, Ghosts.
UK promo release
A&M were getting slightly cost conscious - instead of a promo sleeve like the old days, this came with a typed insert.
US & Canada - probably not
Given the number of folk who have come up to Dave Cousins and said they used this song in their wedding celebrations, it is astonishing that A&M didn't release this in the US or Canada, but it seems not to be the case - unless anyone knows different......
The German release uses the "white tie and tails" photo from the back of the album.
First and only known 45 release in Brazil, in an "Industrias Electricas E Musicais Fabrica Odeon" company sleeve which includes A&M, London, EMI, Probe, Capitol and Harvest logos.
Thai EP releases
In Thailand, the single seems to have come out in a number of different releases (with some doubt as to whether all were properly licensed).
The Cashbox release came out with three tracks by other artists, one by Bad Company and two by Neil Young. Strawbs made the cover though, which is a poor quality colour repro of the cover of the US album (you can see the US album number in the bottom left hand corner by the A&M logo) with the album title sno-paked out, and "The Winter Long" substituted, almost certainly in handwritten lettering! The label has typed bare info "The Winter Long (Strawbs)". Nice packaging [grin]. Not certain whether this was a legitimate release or not.
The "4-Track" release uses a Joni Mitchell painting of CSN&Y to illustrate the Neil Young track "See The Sky About To Rain" (which also appeared on the Cashbox EP). Other titles here are strange bedfellows for Strawbs and Neil Young - Johnny T. Angel's "Tell Laura I Love Her" and "When Will I See Her Again" by the Three Degrees!
This release matches Strawbs' "Winter Long" with Bad Company's "Ready For Love", Eric Clapton's "I Shot The Sheriff" with Blue Swede's (who?) "Never My Love" (who ?)
This is what arrived in the post - sadly the Thai seller who sent it never agreed that his packaging was totally inadequate - what a shit!
What looks like a kaleidoscope image turns out to be a very saucy cover indeed. This release also has two Bad Company tracks, Movin' On" and "Ready For Love", Neil Young's "See The Sky About To Rain".
Yet another Thai EP - where did they all come from ? - this one featuring John Denver. Neil Young's "See The Sky About To Rain" stays the course, but with two Denver tracks, "Sunshine On My Shoulder" and "My Sweet Lady".