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Dick Greener
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Dick Greener

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A&M, 1972

Release date: 13 Oct 1972 (UK)

For a timeline of the single's trajectory up the UK charts, see Chart Timeline below.

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).

Chart Timeline:

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

There's video from TOTP at:
(black & white)
(restored colour)

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

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UK vinyl

"Lay Down"/Ciggy Barlust & The Whales From Venus: "Backside"
(AMS 7035, A&M, 1972)
Advance promo acetate (*)

Pye standard acetate label with handwritten details.

"Lay Down"/Ciggy Barlust & The Whales From Venus: "Backside"
(AMS 7035, A&M, 1972)
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.

UK release

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).

Variant 1
A-side "THE STRAWBS", B-side, music company "Copyright Control"

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).

Variant 2
A-side "STRAWBS", B-side, music company "Copyright Control"

Variant 3
A-side "THE STRAWBS", B-side, music company "Louvigny/Marquee"

Variant 4
A-side "STRAWBS", B-side, music company "Louvigny/Marquee"

US vinyl

"Lay Down [stereo]"/"Lay Down [mono]"
(AM 1451, A&M promo, 1973)
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). A date-stamped version has emerged, suggesting a release date of 3 Jul 1973 (which would have coincided with their 1973 tour).

Datestamped copy. Not certain that the bright yellow cover is contemporaneous - I bought this and the "Round And Round/Heroine's Theme" promo (also datestamped) and both came with these which I thought were later A&M covers. Nice though ....

"Lay Down"/"The Winter And The Summer"
(AM 1451, A&M, 1973)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".

Canada vinyl

"Lay Down"/"The Winter And The Summer"
(AM 1451, A&M promo, 1973) 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.

"Lay Down"/"The Winter And The Summer"
(AM 1451, A&M, 1973) Canadian full release (*)

Spotted online - anyone got one?

Europe vinyl

"Lay Down"/Ciggy Barlust & The Whales From Venus: "Backside"
(T-7265, Sonet, 1972)
Danish release

Lay Down Sonet cover
Lay Down Sonet Lay Down Sonet

"Lay Down"/Ciggy Barlust & The Whales From Venus: "Backside"
(12396 AT, A&M, no date)
Dutch release

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.

"Lay Down"/Ciggy Barlust & The Whales From Venus: "Backside"
(PR 002, A&M, France, 1972)
French promo release

French A&M company sleeve, with "Distributed by RCA" on back. The words "Tirage limite. Vente interdite au public" indicate this was a promo only release; not certain whether a full release was ever made. My copy has a stamp "Discotheques Europe".

"Lay Down"/Ciggy Barlust & The Whales From Venus: "Backside"
(12396 AT, A&M, 1972)
German release

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.

"Tiendete (Lay Down)"/"Manana (Tomorrow)"
(HS 897, A&M/Hispavox, 1973)
Spanish release

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.

"Lay Down"/Ciggy Barlust & The Whales From Venus: "Backside"
(006 94136, 1972, A&M)
Portuguese release

Picture sleeve using the same photo as the Danish release.

Asia Pacific vinyl

"Lay Down"/"The Flower And The Young Man"
(AMK-4927, A&M/Festival, Australia, 1973)
Australian release (*)

Came in a tattered A&M Festival company sleeve, but scanned in the better quality sleeve I have for the Australian "Part Of The Union">.

"Lay Down"/"The Flower And The Young Man"
(AMK 4927, A&M/Festival, New Zealand, 1973)
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.

"Lay Down"/"The Winter And The Summer"
(AM 186, A&M, 1973)
Japanese promo release

Fancy clothes from the "tweed" photoshoot dominate the cover of this Japanese release. Only two verses for "Lay Down" are transcribed .... not clear why.

Japanese release

Same insert as promo, comes with smart "plate" A&M company sleeve.

"Lay Down plus"
Thai release (*)

Another cheapie Thai bootleg, with Strawbs partnered with Slade, Rod Stewart and Black Sabbath.

Other Releases

"Lay Down"/Ciggy Barlust & The Whales From Venus: "Backside"
(AMS 7035, A&M, 1972)
Israeli release

A strange and anachronistic choice of photo, featuring the Cousins/Hooper/Wakeman/Ford/Hudson Antiques And Curios line-up (Israel did this for "Part Of The Union" too!)

"Lay Down"/Ciggy Barlust & The Whales From Venus: "Backside"
(AMS 7035/11767, A&M/Industriales Electricas Y Musicales Peruanas, 1972)
Peruvian release

A&M brown labels. Note the description "SOUL" under the catalog number.

"Lay Down"/"Tomorrow"
(AMRS 1038, A&M, 1972)
South African release

Brown label release. Interestingly the artist name has quotation marks whilst the songname hasn't! Came in nice A&M company "black ring" sleeve, with different typography to the UK or US versions.

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