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STRAWBS - REVIEWS AND COMMENTS


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REVIEWS

STRAWBS - BONUS TRACKS - Previewed by Dick Greener

That Which Once Was Mine (session)

Slightly slower than the recorded version (I think) - cello a bit more to the fore and Tony Visconti was on hand to play recorder and act as musical director (according to Garner).

Poor Jimmy Wilson (session)

DJ talking over the intro - more spartan arrangement without recorders, just guitars and double bass with Cousins vocal on top. Acoustic Strawbs many years ahead of their time.

The Battle (session)

Organ (Rick Wakeman, a session player recruited by Visconti, almost certainly his first session with the Strawbs) and cello (Claire Deniz) quickly make their presence felt, over a thumping double bass from Chesterman which seems more prevalent than in the recorded version. Snare from Ronnie Verrall for the second verse and throughout. Dave's vocal is really expressive and the organ and cello pick up some of the brass parts from the recorded version.

Whilst we all love the recorded version, this is easily as good quality, performance-wise, and could have been included on the first album without a qualm.


I'LL MAKE OUT LIKE I NEVER KNEW - Review by Dick GreenerStrawbs

Anyone waiting the debut album of their much beloved folk trio must have been pretty surprised by what they got on the Strawbs "Tie Salad" album when it finally emerged in June 1969. It was a big jump from the repertoire of the two besuited guitarist/vocalists and double bass player who honed their skills playing first mainly bluegrass, with a touch of trad folk, in the clubs and pubs of West London (usually after work, hence the suits). Whilst the later sixties saw them featuring predominantly self-written material and fronting their own club and Arts Lab in Hounslow's White Bear pub, the gatefold album from major US label A&M's first UK signings went well beyond all of that, a foretaste of just how far their music would progress and develop over the years.

As aficionados will recall, on the strength of "Oh How She Changed"/"Or Am I Dreaming", the Strawbs now had their big advance from A&M and had set about making an album with very big ideas - a full-blown pop extravaganza, with some real nods to the Beatles (not least recruiting for the sessions cellist Lionel Ross who played on "I Am The Walrus").

So the boys headed for the studio and recorded a number of songs (some of which they'd already recorded with Sandy Denny in Copenhagen) which were to be connected together by brief spoken word pieces. But then – two bits of bad luck: first, Simon & Garfunkel beat them to the punch with Bookends, which employed the same connecting device so out went the links (apart from the intro to "Jesus" which survived the cull; secondly, the A&M people didn't like what they'd done! Having heard the first single A&M thought the boys were a gentle folky/acoustic slightly psychedelic outfit and weren't at all prepared for the full-on pop onslaught which was Dave and Tony's pride and joy. So back to the drawing board, some of the more pop-oriented tracks got sidelined and the boys headed back into the studio to record some additional songs more in keeping with the label's expectations.

Now, until the CD release of the Strawberry Sampler, which collected together those lost tracks, it was difficult to share what might have been, but now it is possible. So firstly I'll review the album as released and then in a subsequent mail, I'll review the "lost" album as I believe it may have first been presented to A&M execs.

The album as released starts out at a pretty frenetic pace – "Jesus", opening with the only retained spoken word piece – then-unknown actor Richard Wilson doing his Cockney vox pop over a traffic noise background. Thrashing acoustic guitars well up as he draws to a close, followed by a thudding electric bassline, pounding drums from Ted Heath Band drummer Ronnie Verrell and sidesman Nicky Hopkins' piano. As the story unfolds, they are joined by Alan Parker's fuzz guitar, first wailing, then distorted guitar then both. And that last long drawn-out sustained fuzz chord … blimey! Real power and energy delivered with astonishing conviction. And, being one of the earlier Strawbs songs from the old White Bear days, "Jesus" could have been one of the folkier numbers, but no, this is a cracking rock song despite its folk club origins.

(I have to confess that I'd always thought that this one featured Led Zepp's John Paul Jones on bass, but according to the personnel listings on By Choice - where it was remastered – it credits Alan Weighell on bass – in any event you do wonder what Ron Chesterman was doing whilst this was all going on …)

Next, one of my favourites and a change of pace. Visconti's recorded and strings presaging the cello-heavy folk motif of Dragonfly (unsurprising in that it came from the final sessions), but this time with more elaborate orchestral support. The central focus is however the weaving guitar figure, underlaid with Chesterman's jazzy double bass (in many ways Ron was essentially a jazz player who got beached in the folk world). And that last verse -

And my life is yet determined
By the span of what it holds
And the span grows ever shorter
As my lifetime folds away.

What I love most is that perky closing instrumental – I don't know what musical form (can anyone tell me) – an intricate counterpoint of recorder, double bass and guitars. Acoustic Strawbs – one crying out for your three guitar treatment, methinks.

"All The Little Ladies" is a Cousins/Hooper collaboration, with a stop/start variable tempo, pared back to the basic three-piece – two guitars and bass. One of Cousins' typical "story songs" of the period, in my view capturing perfectly the twilight world of sadness and loneliness these genteel aging ladies inhabited, a crystallised picture of sixties middle England, just like "How Everyone But Sam Was A Hypocrite".

Another favourite – "Pieces Of 79 And 15", again co-written by Dave and Tony, gives Tony Hooper given his first lead here, over the boys' guitars/double bass plus some lush, swooping Visconti orchestration, very Beatles IMHO. The swelling harmonies and separate parts remind me of "On My Way" and "All I Need Is You" on the Copenhagen recordings – and I've always particularly loved the understated Cousins line "pieces of people and places" which comes just after the middle eight instrumental – just before the backing sweeps across from one speaker to the other, again, very Beatles stereo trickery in style. The only faults for me are that the song isn't longer (an extra verse or reprise or two wouldn't have gone amiss) and that rather than having an ending, it sort of tapers out. Small caveats in relation to such a splendid song.

Plucked from the Omar Khayyam Arab restaurant off Oxford Street, so the story goes, (no doubt where Cousins and Hooper had enjoyed some good garlicky meals, as was their wont in those days) Nosrati and his Arab friends provide eastern fiddle and percussion backing for "Tell Me What You See In Me", a perfect foil for Cousins' open tuned guitar and vulnerable if understated vocals (maybe one of the tracks where producer Gus Dudgeon and Cousins argued over the volume level for the vocals – myself, I'd certainly have pushed them up a bit, particularly on the last verse where they do get a bit buried in the mix and it sounds like Dave sang it over the phone!). But the chorus has sweet Tony and Dave harmonies which couldn't be bettered, sitting just under the main Cousins vocal. Not certain again whether Ron had much of a role in this recording though he may be in there somewhere as he had been when this was recorded before, but it sounds like Nosrati had his own bass instrument in there too.

So, that very first Strawbs moment on vinyl: the single "Oh How She Changed". Harmonics, strings, then the pure voice of Tony Hooper – possibly his finest moment ever with the Strawbs. Cousins brings in harmonies on every other line and the first chorus line has a folky descant behind it. Then guitars, drums, tympani and Visconti's striking orchestral arrangement takes the whole thing to a new peak. The drums and cymbals are little distorted – no doubt recorded right up there in the red to get the biggest possible contrast between the sweet quiet sections and the noisy dramatic ones. Then another quiet section, the chorus again with strings backing, finally mounting to the closing "round" harmony chorus, with a swelling roll of tympani providing a stirring and abrupt ending. A truly remarkable track and a stunning first single, though I'd still argue that it was more "pop" than "folk", whatever the A&M folks said.

"Or Am I Dreaming" was more in the folky/psychedelic mould with not terribly deep, slightly trippy lyrics, gently delivered over the band plus lush Visconti strings, with woodwind, triangle (?) and the showband-style drummer underpinning it the whole thing , tap tap tap on the cymbals. Even then, in the middle eight both orchestration and percussion gather pace and the piece veers more towards pop than folk. Satellites were big in the pop world in the 60s and the lyrical style was much more redolent of some of the Copenhagen recordings than the more recent and much sharper material Dave was now writing) - Strawbs "Lite", definitely.

That riff on "Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth" is for me one of Cousins best intros ever, and I'd love to see Acoustics take this song apart and reconstruct it - with Cousins and Lambert on vocals it could work a treat, and maybe even Brian would sing (or maybe not ....).

Joined by hand drums, cymbals and drums and soon piano, there are weird vocal delays, oohs and aahs which make up a rich underlay. Then the end of the first verse and the striking multi-part closing line, modelled on the four part unaccompanied folk harmonies of the Young Tradition, but set against a backdrop of almost jazz-rock as the piano player takes the off-beat and the drums strike a similar note. (I think the piano player was from the Ted Heath Band, though it COULD have been Nicky Hopkins again or Alan Hawkshaw on keys - there seems to be an electric bass player in there rather than Ron, again making it most likely that this was recorded whilst the Ted Heath Band guys were around.) Another track where I think Gus Dudgeon did Cousins' lead vocal no favours in terms of volume. There's supposed to be an alternate mix of this knocking around too, but I've not heard it. The last four vocal lines build and build until the final echo-laden note of the chorus. Then the jazz players strike up the riff once more and play out to the end. Excellent.

Never a favourite of mine, the story song "Poor Jimmy Wilson" suffers from a trite set of words requiring Dave to adopt a slightly unnatural vocal phrasing. The instrumentation seems a bit twee, relying over heavily on the Visconti recorders, this time slightly overdone I feel. Apparently it originally had a much darker ending with Jimmy being befriended by a bloke on the common and never being heard from again, but I'd find it hard to mourn his loss. This is probably the track I'd have dropped from the album to reinstate one of the pop tunes - a much better story song would have been the unusually arranged "How Everyone But Sam", but more of that in the next installment.

No such reservations about the next track, probably my favourite on the album. The opening segment "Where Am I" has guitars and bass (and later tinkling top-end piano) behind Tony's beautifully sweet vocal. This echoes and fades and the song segues into the unusual open tuning guitars of "I'll Show You Where To Sleep" (unusual in that it involves the fingers of the left hand blocking the frets from above not below the guitar, apparently picked up Cousins from Joni Mitchell). Nice Cousins vocals on the first verse with multi-tracked harmonies from the two. The second verse and chorus proceeds in unison and chimes provide a nice pastoral backdrop for the middle eight. And lastly the third verse has Dave and Tony alternating between singing in unison and Dave striking out alone, again with oohs and aahs underneath. Again, like "79 & 15", over all too soon, and could have had more of an ending.

And finally, six and a half minutes of "The Battle", the first of many Cousins "epic" Strawbs tracks – a real harbinger of things to come, including the mellotron-soaked prog epics of the mid seventies. The song is on one level a description of a game of chess and on another the expression of Cousins' rejection of war and racial hatred; it succeeds on both. For many, it was the defining song on the album, enjoying good airplay and such an extremely positive media response that a single release was briefly contemplated (both almost unthinkable in the era of the three minute pop tune).

The orchestration is stunning, heavily featuring cello – presumably "Walrus" session man Lionel Ross and the whole thing pays homage (particularly in the alternate mix – see below - have I got you interested then ?) to the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby". (Could the recruitment a few months later of a full time cello player in Claire Deniz really have been that much of a surprise ?).

The music frequently describes the lyrical content: a flail on the acoustic guitars is intended to be the Bishop's men shivering in the damp and the trembling horses sensing fear, whilst the organ mimics the "headlong flight into the moat" of a soldier. Later, the brass section careers round the soundspace as the queen who "runs screaming round the walls" urging the men to fight.

Opening with just Dave's acoustic guitar, he's quickly joined by church-like organ, plaintive cello, double bass and marching brass. Martial drums join in with the second verse and Tony begins to support Dave on vocals. After the plainsong harmony communion, staccato organ stabs depict the rooks taking flight. The carnage of battle builds and builds, the brass section like a trumpet call, Dave's vocal becoming more bitter and strident. Then, the closing verses quieten down, with haunting strings balancing the acoustic guitars, reflecting the calm of the battle's aftermath, as those who are left lick their wounds and thank God for their survival. Appropriately therefore, Dave and Tony both sing the last verse, the last half of which takes on a churchy feel with multi-tracked plainsong harmonies and echoing ethereal organ. The track ends with the fading noise of the wind over the battlefield (I hear an echo, eight years later in the ending to "Beside The Rio Grande").

Wow! I've known the song for nearly twenty-five years now, and describing it here has made me realise just how clever it really is. Astonishing stuff. Lord knows whether it's folk or not, though.

Now, this alternate mix: such a thing does indeed exist. It pushes the elements of the song much more strongly to either side of the mix or firmly in the centre in the style of George Martin/Beatles stuff. I believe it was a possible inclusion on the abortive A&M/Universal Boxed Set and I've heard an CDR of an acetate of it, which I think is the same thing. It opens with guitars in the left channel, cello, organ etc, in the centre and Cousins vocals very clear indeed on their own over in the right channel. The "communion " section is very much clearer than the released version and signals all change on the mix – Cousins lead moving to centre stage to join the cello, the brass taking over stage right, again much clearer on its own. Drums and brass switch next to allow the brass centre stage for their "queen running round the walls". Organ in the centre for the last verse, but the dual vocals on the last half lack the power and presence of the release version, and there's no biting wind to fade. Overall, apart from a few passages, I think the release version is better, but let's hope this does one day come out on CD for all to compare.

How then to assess such an eclectic offering ? It certainly had great critical acclaim and sold pretty well for a debut - 25,000 copies or so. The thing which strikes me on listening to it over thirty years later is (a) apart maybe from "Jimmy Wilson", how little it has dated and (b) how varied it is.

As for datedness, well you listen to some pop 45s of the time and they are very much "of the period" - but listen to what Strawbs circa 1984 (and indeed at Chiswick) did to "Oh How She Changed" - there wasn't actually that much to update for it to fit in perfectly.

One of the most enjoyable features of Strawbs music is that variety - the band can switch from a folk strumalong to a banjo/dulcimer/sitar piece, then an organ-drenched epic, often in the same song or suite of connected snippets. There was always a variety of styles on offer on Strawbs albums in their glory days (less so the more their producers aimed at what we these days know as AOR). "Tie Salad" has that variety in spades.

In a lot of ways it is an obvious foundation for the band's later folk/rock and rock/folk development Wakeman first played with them on BBC sessions which included "The Battle", and "Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth" of course had a later incarnation as the triumphant Wakeman workout at the band's seminal QEH concert only a year later in July 1970, which, like it or not (and some early fans certainly didn't), broke them into the rock arena.

Folk, rock, or pop ? I'd argue that whilst, they had emerged, it is true, from the folk scene, the spread of music on this album transcends categorisation as folk, pop or indeed anything at all. They were then, as now, in a class of their own – not folk, not pop, not rock, not progressive: just "Strawbs".

Bugger to work out which record rack to put it in mind you ……

Strawbs

POP ART IN THE PUREST SENSE - Review by Richard Poulin

Strawbs: Strawbs, generally referred to as the Tie Salad album, as it really shows a Tie Salad on its cover (still one of my favorite Strawbs record covers - I think it's a cool picture, and it's pop art in the purest sense, I don't understand it but it is so colorful! Something Andy Warhol could have done, except that the ties would have a signature by a great designer or would make you dizzy like DC's shirts (that's what I heard about it, at least).

Now, to be serious. Strawbs was the second Strawbs record I could put my hands on, perhaps one week or less after I heard and then purchased their masterpiece Grave New World. Winter of 1972, it was. It was an A&M import (i.e. quite expensive for my student's budget at the time) and the radio DJ who had converted me by playing Grave New World non-stop one week before, gave it to me after I told him I was Jesus (LOL). No, I rather asked him whether he had anything else by the Strawbs. He said with a funny smile: yes, but that is all I have left, but I warn you: it's very different from GNW, but also extremely good. He then said that it was about the best folk rock music made in England at the time (I was not familiar then with Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span so a statement like this did not encounter much objections....).

First track, disappointment: I was not especially impressed by "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus" because it sounded too 'commercial pop music' and the lyrics sounded quite a bit trivial to me. Plus, the intro bass line reminded me too much of a well known VERY sexually oriented tune by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin called "Je t'aime moi non plus" (i.e. 'I love you, neither do I' ). I just couldn't help hearing the sensual organ melody that is so famous in all countries in the world where the song was a mammoth success. After 30 years, I got to like it a little bit, although I don't rank it among DC's most inspired efforts. It is sort of a quite standard Byrds-like verse/refrain thing: cute, but not something I'd like to use as an inviting introduction to the whole Strawbs universe for someone who doesn't know the group.

But then! I fell in love right away with the whole album starting with the next tune. That clean, liquid, precise, beautiful and fluent guitar playing on "That Which Once Was Mine", sustained by the perfect, efficient double bass lines of Ron Chesterman and the typical Visconti recorder bits. The haunting melody. Very catchy, wonderfully played and recorded. And the gorgeous, melancholic finale with the guitars that seem to talk to each other. That song immediately struck me with its very polished sound, its very romantic sound.

And then, almost blending with the previous number in its general style and arrangements, "All the Little Ladies", a number I liked almost as much as the one before. You can almost smell the perfume of these old ladies, you can visualize the absent look, you feel the void in their existence. A painting in music, another poetic gem with music perfectly supporting the words.

Already carried away by this, I then heard "Pieces of 79 and 15". My poor knowledge of English made this number very puzzling to me, but I could certainly fly on the melody with the surprising tone changes, and the harmonies. Yes, I was fond of good harmonies, and those were light-years ahead of the teeth-grinding efforts of supergroups like CSN or CSNY. As good as Beatles harmonies, but with a gentler effect, certainly due to Tony Hooper's voice. His voice sounds so fragile, so innocent that you want to do something good for him, like telling him he'll find love and a good life someday... And a dynamic beat with a sort of wall-of-sound made of guitar playing, with a kind of picking I was really much into (similar to Quebec groups you probably never heard such as 'Harmonium').

Next song, another universe: "Tell Me What You See in Me", a long, hypnotic song that almost always works in carrying me under a tent in some foreign desert in Morocco, Turkey or India (or whatever place Nosrati and his Arab friends want to bring you - it's clichι, but it had that soothing melody and the tight harmonies of the group). I just love that song, and this version is in my opinion far superior to the other existing ones by many leagues, simply because it's so much fun to go through this exotic mini trip that works so well in the middle of the song.

At the time, the next song, ''Oh How She Changed'' was making the end of side 1, so you paid more attention to it (think about it, vinyl veterans!). Tony Hooper, again so fragile, so melancholic (more so than DC could ever be: good song casting!). When I hear that song, I can see gray skies, an empty park bench where a couple was once kissing, garden alleys washed out by the rain, and the big lump you feel in a heart broken by its first true and eternal love that died without any reason given...

''Or Am I Dreaming?"..: how can a poet-singer make such a light and flowing melody with a merry rhythm with such long and complicated verses. But verses which at the same time work by their simple power of evocation:

The fragile gentle butterfly with multi-colored wings
Settles on the toadstools in the midst of fairy rings
Midsummer sounds of tinkle bells as sweet Titania sings.

I think only Donovan had such a rich palette of colors in his early song writing. As somebody said before about this song, it transpires a certain serenity, happiness that is not too often felt in Strawbs songs. I'm not quite sure how to interpret what it meant for the author. It sounds to my French-Canadian ears as a hippie vision of immediate natural surroundings without drugs, a feeling that primary sensations can get strong without (?) the aid of any chemical substance.

The version of ''Where is this Dream of Your Youth'' on this album is a great poem about lost illusions - a recurrent theme in DC's songs - and the guitar/percussion combination is simple but efficient. Strange that this the first song that the Strawbs decided to electrify (as far as I know, of course) and use as a jam session during the show recorded in Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios.

Some downplay "Poor Jimmy Wilson" as a quite ordinary, uninspired song with as much uninspired words. Again, words don't sound the same to me (because I can easily consider vocals as just another instrument if I want, and it's not difficult form me). Maybe ''Poor Jimmy ...'' is not a great lyrical song, but the way Dave Cousins sings it is so full of sympathy for the ugly duck guy that we all met in our life one time or another that it works in leaving me a sense of nostalgia and of compassion for mankind in general. And the Viscontization of the song helps a lot to do that. I would be very curious to see a video of the TV show where David Bowie was playing mime on that song, as I read in a recollection written by Dave Cousins (I think that's found in the liner notes of the Canadian-only Early Strawbs double album).

The mini suite that follows ("Where Am I'' being really just an unfinished song used as an intro to "I'll Show You Where To Sleep'') is a bit mystical, with unusual poetry. I understand the words as a way for DC to express a certain state of mind (again, with or without the use of drugs, I really don't know) in which I once was myself a long time ago, where the world and the weight of everyday duties are immaterial - youth, that is! People may find it phony, but I perfectly sense what state of mind Dave wants to convey in that song.

"The Battle" is, as somebody else also once said, the first epic song by DC with enough verses to get mixed up during a show. It is not a favorite of mine; I don't find the phrasing effects to make the bellicose passages of the song more aggressive a little exaggerated. It is otherwise a great poem that announces the future, more emotional epics and anti-war songs by DC. There is a great musical similarity between "The Battle", "The Vision of the Lady of the Lake" and "The Hangman and the Papist", and I tend to get those mixed up when I don't pay attention. I think that the chord and bar patterns of these songs inspired DC a lot, or that he found them too convenient to change to put these various epic poems into music.

Overall, I find in the Tie Salad album an extremely rich collection of songs, especially lyrically and it is probably the record with the most studio embellishments among all Strawbs records. It has lots of Visconti dressing in it, perhaps too much for certain tastes, e.g. the more folksy oriented type of Strawbs fan. One may dislike the too much pervasive presence of these arrangements, that contrast with the much more laid back sound of the second album, Dragonfly, I personally like what Visconti did with many records by folk groups or singers at the time (e.g. listen to Moonshine by Bert Jansch, an extremely Viscontized record but at the same time, a pure gem (of course, it all depends on your taste for Jansch's voice). Tony Visconti's arrangements give the distinctive musical quality to songs which might would have sounded much more ordinary with the modest 2 guitars, double bass of the original group. That is most obvious by comparing Strawbs with Preserves Uncanned, which contains most, if not all of these songs (with few gaps here and there in the songs). Notwithstanding personal tastes for this type of arrangements, Strawbs was a very powerful entry into the public for the group. I instantly fell in love with the album, with the cover, with Visconti recorders and most of all, with the intricacy of Dave Cousins' poetry. You're seldom blessed so much when you get an album like Strawbs after a Grave New World, despite the vast difference in maturity and total impact between the two albums.


COMMENTS FROM WITCHWOOD - the Strawbs Discussion Group

StrawbsPaul Brazier

Dick got it almost exactly right. We didn't know what to expect when Strawbs came out, but what we got was well worth the wait -- not very like the live band at the time, but I doubt that just three blokes, two voices and guitars and a double bass, would have made nearly as memorable an album. I haven't played the vinyl in a long time, and don't have a CD of it yet, but the tracks are inscribed on my heart, and I could hear them playing over as you described them.

I remember well the agony of the six months from hearing the album was coming to the day I went into the tiny Virgin Records store above the shoe shop in Oxford St and bought a copy. I took it home and put it on, and there were the sinister opening chords of "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus", and then suddenly bass and drums, and the needle jumped right off the record. I took it back the next day, and got another copy, and that wouldn't play either. Eventually, we got a second pressing that did play OK. I never liked that version of "Jesus", though, because the vocal is lost under the lead guitar. Now I can't remember whether it was the single or the album version that changed, or indeed if it is only remixed on a CD re-release, but somewhere the guitar has been shifted back in the mix so we can hear Dave's voice properly. But a great song, and an extraordinary augur of things to come.

"Where Am I/I'll Show You Where To Sleep" is my favourite track off the album too, and notable at the time for being something we had not heard in the club. I never liked "Pieces Of 79 And 15! all that much (another song we'd not heard before), and when I mentioned it to Dave at Haywards Heath earlier this year, he said "Tony Hooper wrote that". Hmm.

It's funny, but the version of "The Battle" on this album had been overwritten in my mind by another one that features Rick Wakeman very strongly. I have the ending of the song in my mind with Wakeman crashing out a swelling discord that tails off in a similar way to the wind howling in the Strawbs version, and I am very grateful to you for reminding me of that earlier, spookier ending. Trouble is, I can't remember where I heard the Wakeman version.

Finally, one tiny quibble. You mention somewhere the Strawbs using four part harmony similar to that of The Young Tradition -- I know they were a superb band, but how on earth did they manage four part harmony when there were only three of them? Or is there a manifestation of the band that wasn't just three?

DG: "Pieces" was credited (Cousins/Hooper), but as it's all about Tony's experiences in flatland in Hampstead/Swiss Cottage (where I work) he probably wrote the lyric. I've got somewhere the addresses that 79 and 15 refer to - even if we can't arrange a blue plaque, maybe I should get out there with me digital camera ....

You probably heard "The Battle" on the radio ... Wakeman did some BBC sessions with them pre-Dragonfly and definitely played "The Battle."

In relation to your quibble - absolutely right - I'll get my paper re-graded {grin}.

Adrian the Rock

For me the first album has always been a mixed bag, with several tracks I really like and some I've never been so fond of. Top of my list are definitely the two lilting songs "Or Am I Dreaming" and "Where Am I/I'll Show You Where To Sleep" and I would also love to see these included in a live acoustic set. Both ooze forth with a hope and optimism that is unusual for Strawbs songs, and I'm sure Tony must have been a key influence in these. But I also get the impression that DC has never been too fond of these songs - did I read something somewhere that suggests these were included more through A&M's influence than his own? If so, then I'm afraid I'd have to say that this is one occasion on which I think the record company, rather than the performers, showed better judgment.

The Battle is also a favourite. It's a typically tuneful song which tells its story with evocative imagery backed by powerful musical themes, and its social comment is a timeless one. And I've loved the surreal 'Jesus' ever since the first time I heard it, which was when I bought By Choice as one of my first ever LPs.

I often find music I enjoy most is that which lets me escape the miseries of everyday life, and I loathe most forms of reality-based entertainment. So I have never much enjoyed 'Pieces Of...', 'All The Little Ladies' and 'Poor Jimmy Wilson', especially the last which unfortunately reminds me too much of my own childhood/adolescence when I frequently ended up the victim myself. Neither 'That Which Once Was Mine' nor 'Tell Me What You See In Me' have ever really made much impact with me, either for or against. But I do also enjoy 'Oh, How She Changed', somehow the refrain seems to click with me.

While this is not an album I often play right through, I do quite often come back to it for the tracks I do like, and in the days when I used to make up car tapes the songs I do like would often feature.

Joe Langer

I have always considered the songs on Tie Salad and Dragonfly to be a double album rather then single releases having bought them as Early Strawbs around the time of Ghosts release. After starting with GNW, then BATS, then Ghosts within a few months Early Strawbs blew me away, and the Strawbs have been my favorite band ever since.

The diversity of the music folk through prog to easy listening. If you are in a mood the Strawbs have a song to fit. A close relative was diagnosed schizophrenia and "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus" has become way to real. I played it for him recently but wasn't able to have the talk after listening as visitors came. Everyone knows a "Jimmy Wilson". "The Battle", "Or Am I Dreaming", "I'll Show You Where To Sleep" - great D.C. songs. "Pieces Of 79 And 15", "Oh How She Changed", Tony at his best.

On a whole a great album. Si-Wan did a great job on the CD. Still sounds fresh so many years later.

David Claridge

This was my second album purchased after Antiques. It still remains my favourite. It's acoustic guitars + Tony Hooper vox + Visconti recorders, add up to an English Summer's day. If anyone knows "Kew Gardens" by Ralph McTell, this evokes the same thoughts, along with Nick Drake and Donovan.

This group of albums/tracks offer a style that when I hear it feels almost instinctively familiar- if that makes sense. I defer to Richard Poulin's review which says it all in detail. "If in some capricious moment" - I love that line, and even more when I bothered to find out what capricious meant!

Tom Brooking

Tie Salad is great because it contains 4 or 5 classic songs - "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus", "Tell Me What You See In Me" (with a ravy Arab band to boot), a jazzy Nicky Hopkins dominated version of "Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth" and "The Battle". "That Which Once Was Mine" has a neat ending, "Poor Jimmy Wilson" and "All The Little Ladies" are sardonic and "Pieces Of 79 And 15" and "I'll show you where to Sleep float along nicely in the mood of the time.

All in all an impressive start- this band had potential and as Mark Plummer once remarked it's still a rock album despite some Incredible String Band orientation. Even "Oh How She Changed" has a delightful over the top feel, although I much prefer the rocked up Chiswick version. So in way this is more like BATS than any of the other earlier albums!, i.e they got more folksy after this.

Bjψrn Nilsen

The Man Who Called Himself Jesus: A song I have played many times through the years and I like the lyric and the melody. When I listen to this song I always wonder how would we react if someone showed up and called himself Jesus.

That Which Once Was Mine: I might be the only one in this group that get the feeling that this song should have been on Hummingbird. Here is a goldmine for R. Wakeman to use his musical skills.

All The Little Ladies: A song that remind me about my and other grandmothers

Pieces of 79 And 15: Good harmonies and a song with elements from Beatles. (Maybe only my imagination).

Tell Me What You See In Me: A mix of feelings in the beginning, and I feel that I am in India and a little later a gypsy playing his fiddle from heaven to hell and back again. Dave and Tony sing perfectly together and I strongly feel that this is Strawbs at their best.

Oh How She Changed: A great song where Tony sings with emotion and feeling. A very good song that I often listen to.

Or Am I Dreaming: If there is a song that I would like to hear with Acoustic Strawbs, then it has to be this one. A song that make me in a good mood on any day and at any time of the year.

Where Is The Dream Of Your Youth? I like the live version better on Antiques And Curios

Poor Jimmy Wilson: A song I learn to like over the years.

Where Am I/I'll Show You Where To Sleep: This is good music.

The Battle: I didn't know before Witchwood told me that this song was about a game of chess. Well, what a game/Battle.

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