After a short tour to promote Deep Cuts, Strawbs' management had taken the decision to pull the band off the road, to record two albums in quick succession. So, the band headed over to Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeek, Holland to record the new album. Cousins, Lambert & Cronk commented in 1977:
"We decided to go off once again ... we do like going away to record, because it's dreadful recording in London ..... you get all these interruptions during the day, whereas if you go to Holland and nobody knows where you are and they can't get through because the studio's in such an obscure place, then you really get away from everything. We lived together in a strange little bungalow park in a funny little place, we had two houses .... Dave [Lambert] had a lovely little house in the forest with John Mealing .. they were the babes in the wood .... There we were in Holland and in a studio in the middle of the woods, in the middle of nowhere. The only thing it had was a bar in the studio and a safari park next door...."
During the making of Deep Cuts, the two producers Holmes and Lesser hadn't been seeing eye to eye, and that album was the last time they worked together. So Strawbs had to choose between the two to produce the next album. Cousins got on much better with Rupert Holmes, both from a musical point of view and in terms of personalities, but Lambert was still annoyed that Holmes had let him down over the solo single that had been intended to come out of the earlier sessions. So Jeffrey Lesser handled the production of the next album.
Lesser was convinced that a hit single was crucial, and that Lambert's songs and vocals were more likely to reach that goal than Cousins' was. Cousins was very disappointed during the making of the album, and at one point wrote home to manager Jim Dawson to say that he wanted to leave the band. Cousins later commented:
"We've always been pressurised by the record companies who said that with a hit single we'd be enormous. But I've got really fed up in a funny way with being associated with the singles market and the commercial end of the market, when the songs I believeve in most, in most cases are not necessarily the most commercially viable. But then of course you get into minority audiences again."
Released in June 1977, it was the second (and last) of the band's two Oyster Records albums, with the Kirby/Mealing team on keyboards, the album contains a number of classic tracks with real staying power - notably "Cut Like A Diamond", the band's sure-fire opening number for much of the 80s, and Lambert's powerful "Heartbreaker" guitar workout. The single "Back In The Old Routine" saw them back on Top Of The Pops - another shot at the UK singles charts, written in the studio.
Dave Cousins (vcls, gtrs)
Dave Lambert (vcls, ld gtrs)
Chas Cronk (bs, vcls)
Rod Coombes (drms, vcls)
Robert Kirby and John Mealing (kybds, orchestrations)
Produced by Jeffrey Lesser. A widescreen production
Recorded at Relight studios, Hilvarenbeek, Holland in March 1977
Engineered and mixed by Jeffrey Lesser with the assistance of Robin Freeeman
Equipment Co-ordination Rob Harvey
Design J. McGillicuddy, Roc Advertising
Concept Paul May
Cover illustration Patrick Woodruffe © Patrick Woodruffe. Taken from the book of his work Mythopoeikon published by Dragons World Ltd. Originally used for the book cover The Billion Years Spree by Brian Aldiss, published by Transworld Ltd
Printed and made by McNeil Press Ltd. in England
This sound recording was made by Strawbs Ltd. 74/78 Seymour Place, London W1H 5DB and was first published in the UK 1977
Record manufactured and distributed in England by Polydor Limited 17-19 Stratford Place, London W1N 0BL