Strawbs: Prognostic

Potent new collection of antiques and curios.

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Dave Cousins himself has compiled this album to showcase the Strawbs as a “prog force to be reckoned with”.

Back in the early 70s they were an eclectic band with a rootsy backbone and pop star aspirations, but a song like Tomorrow from Grave New World (1971) shows that they could out-prog most of the competition. They gave this side full rein on 1974’s Hero & Heroine, represented here by a live medley recorded in 2010. Prognostic covers a lengthy time span but forms a coherent collection. Cousins was always adept at writing longform song-suites like Blue Angel from his 1972 solo album. Two Weeks Last Summer features Rick Wakeman on piano, who also appears on Deep In The Darkest Night, a 2005 collaboration with Conny Conrad on bass and programming. The highlight though is Heartbreak Hill, the title track of a 1978 album left unreleased when the band first broke up. Recorded at their 40th anniversary concert in 2009, its instrumental energy and flamboyance is matched by a particularly intense vocal performance, as Cousins vows never again to visit that existential landmark.

Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is the author of Captain Beefheart - The Biography (Omnibus Press, 2011) and A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s (2020). He was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Prog, Mojo and Wire. He also plays the drums.