For many (including me), this was the single that brought Strawbs to their attention, with several glam rock oriented appearances on Top Of The Pops, wearing make-up and miming outrageously. Based loosely on the 23rd Psalm, this is one of THE classic Strawbs tracks, one that is certain to be in any live set, no matter what else may take a holiday.
Many of the releases featured a track called "Backside", purported to be recorded by Ciggy Barlust & The Whales From Venus (an obvious piss-take on Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars).
13 Oct - Release of Lay Down
4 Nov - Chart position: 34
11 Nov - Chart position: 31
16 Nov - First appearance on Top Of The Pops, alongside other acts including Slade (with "Gudbuy To Love"), the Osmonds (with "Crazy Horses") and the mawkish "Clair" by Gilbert O'Sullivan. Full details at Popscene.
There's video from TOTP at:
(black & white)
18 Nov - Chart position 26
23 Nov - further play of the single on TOTP - over the closing credits
Other artists included Elton John ("Crocodile Rock"), veteran Neil Sedaka ("Oh Carol") and at number 1, Chuck Berry's dire "My Ding A Ling".
25 Nov - Chart position 20
30 Nov - yet another appearance on TOTP. Other featured artists included The Bee Gees ("Alive"), David Cassidy ("Rock Me Baby") and the first outing of the truly appalling "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool", by Little Jimmy Osmond, which Strawbs parodied as part of their live shows in the following year.
2 Dec - Chart position: 13
9 Dec - Chart position: 12 (highest position)
16 Dec - Chart position: 14
UK promo release
The promo version gives the release date as 13 Oct 1972 and promises that the song "will not appear on any future LP" ... well, strictly speaking, the version of "Lay Down" on the album is different .....
Autographed UK promo sleeve
Damaged, but nice to have, a fully autographed promo sleeve. Not certain whether the three autographs date back to 1973 or were gathered later on.
The scan above is the original single (variant 4, see below) I bought back in 1972, the first Strawbs record I possessed. It's a bit battered these days, and I have other playing copies. But this is what started off a lifelong musical obession after all......
For label spotters, there are actually four different versions of the standard UK label (the explanation being no doubt that A&M were printing to keep pace with unexpected levels of sales as the single climbed the UK charts).
Probably the earliest as it matches the promo copies, and probably the rarest as initially, before it started climbing the chrats, pressing numbers may well have been modest).
US promo release
The first of the Stereo/Mono promos as far as I know, intended to faciliate radio play (in those days stereo radio was not available and a mono mix sounded better on the radio).
US release (*)
Listed on Discogs. Released in early Summer 1973 to coincide with Strawbs US tour, the US single pulled Lambert's "The Winter And The Summer" from the album to serve as a B-side instead of therather British and quirky "Backside".
Canadian promo release
Released in early Summer 1973 to coincide with Strawbs US/Canada tour, the Canadian single also had Lambert's "The Winter And The Summer" as a B-side.
Canadian full release? (*)
Did this make it as a full release? Anyone have one?
European and Scandinavian Releases
A tasteful dark green sleeve. Release date almost certainly 1972. The back of the picture sleeve is identical except for some very small text at bottom right identifying the record company Ariola Eurodisc Benelux.
French release (*)
French A&M company sleeve, with "Distributed by RCA" on back..
A slightly garish design with the angular lettering of the song title at odds with the "GNW" Strawbs logo. Nice lettering for the fictitious Mr Barlust & Friends.
The strange goldfish bowl photo which the Japanese recycled for their "Part Of The Union" release. Cousins is pointing, Hud is cross-legged and Blue is clearly visible. You have to hunt to for John who's in the picture frame at centre-bottom of the pic, and the crouching figure to his right is probably Tony Hooper, though it may be Dave Lambert (my money's on Hooper).
Obviously the spoof Bowie track wasn't appropriate for the Spanish market, who went for "Tomorrow" instead. Despite the translation of title, the lyrics as sung are in English.
Picture sleeve using the same photo as the Danish release.
Asia Pacific Releases
Australian release (*)
Listed online in Australian Festival Records releases listing at Global Dogs Australian label discography site.
New Zealand release
No fancy sleeve for this New Zealand release, which provides "Flower And The Young Man" off Grave New World with its only 45 rpm outing.
Japanese promo release
Fancy clothes from the "tweed" photoshoot dominate the cover of this Japanese release. I have a white label promo, so I'm not certain whether this made it out on general release in Japan. Only two verses for "Lay Down" are transcribed .... not clear why.
Japanese release? (*)
Did this make it past a promo? Anyone got one?
Thai release (*)
Another cheapie Thai bootleg, with Strawbs partnered with Slade, Rod Stewart and Black Sabbath.
Peruvian release (*)
Listed online. Note the description "SOUL" under the catalog number.
South African release (*)
Listed as having been auctioned online at ebid.za. No further details. Anyone got one of these?