DEADLINES : Strawbs (2CD/1DVD) Remastered/Expanded Edition
Firstly the issuer of this release Esoteric Records have done a masterful job (as usual) with the presentation of this set. Housed in a sturdy glossy clamshell box, inside containing 3 discs with individual artwork, a replica Tour flyer/poster and a booklet. Disc 1 contains the original album plus 11 bonus tracks. Disc 2 contains 11 tracks live from their concert at the Golders Green Hippodrome recorded on 18th February 1978 for BBC’s ‘Sight and Sound’ programme. Disc 3 is a DVD (all region) of the aforementioned ‘Sight and Sound’ beautifully remastered in…well..’Sight and Sound’! available here for the first time. The Strawbs originally formed in 1964 by Dave Cousins as a bluegrass band had by the 70’s moved through Folk, Folk/Rock, Prog Rock and had pop/rock hits memorably with ‘Lay Down’ in 1973 (a personal all time favourite’). By the time they recorded ‘Deadlines’ their last album of the 70’s they were all but done. Their previous album ‘Burning For You’ ended with ‘Goodbye Is Not An Easy Word To Say’ intended by Dave as his farewell song to the band. Lets remember that 1977 was the height of Punk and all that came with it, bands like the Strawbs, Yes, Asia, ELP etc etc were considered irrelevant dinosaurs and derided by the Punk movement. However management somehow convinced Dave to carry on. So it was that he took a flight to New York to meet with Clive Davis music mogul and founder of Arista Records. An unlikely label one would think known mainly (at that time) for its pop sensibilities with acts like The Bay City Rollers, David Cassidy, Gary Glitter, Dawn etc. However a deal was done with an enthusiastic Davis and ‘Deadlines’ was the result. As it turned out it would be the only album for Arista. Largely ignored by the Press on release and to a degree the record buying public it became the ‘lost’ Strawbs album. Did it deserve it? an emphatic No! The line up for ‘Deadlines’ consisted of Dave Cousins (acoustic guitar/vocals), Dave Lambert (electric guitar/vocals), Chas Cronk (Bass), Tony Fernandez (Drums) and new arrival Andy Richards (keyboards/moog etc). Recorded in Dublin and Air Studios London all nine tracks written by Cousins, Lambert and Cronk the finished album did in fact have a lick of Arista about it as the band moved at times to almost pop powerballadry. Kicking off with a stormer ‘No Return’ (an ironic title given the closing title of the previous album!) with the lead vocal taken by Dave Lambert as opposed to Cousins, great driving riffs and some electrifying keyboard wizardry by Andy shown to stunning effect on the live DVD (there’s another Andy (Q!) known to us all that would surely rate this) Track 2 ‘Joey and Me’ another uptempo catchy cut also features some impressive keyboards. Track 3 ‘Sealed With a Traitors Kiss’ is a heartfelt ballad and is a beautiful gem. Space precludes a run down on every single track but two other tracks standout ‘The Last Report’ becomes an earworm after one listening and ‘Deadly Nightshade’ is a pure madrigal winner. Disc 2 as mentioned is the live ‘Sight and Sound’ concert audio. Disc 3 is the DVD of said concert with the same tracks in the same running order and for me is the jewel in this package. Mixing old favourites with tracks from ‘Deadlines’ its a great and nostalgic watch and joy of joys blasts off with a spirited ‘Lay Down’ what more could you ask for! If you’re a Strawbs fan I urge you to watch this you won’t be disappointed. An excellent package, more please Esoteric! Enjoy.
For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/the-strawbs-deadlines-2cd-1dvd-remastered-expanded-boxset-edition/
Til next time…………Colin
Andy Qunta… Great review, Colin!
Neil Partrick… really interesting article, Colin.