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Dancing To The Devils Beat CD

4.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

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Product details

  • Audio CD (24 Aug. 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: WITCHWOOD MEDIA
  • ASIN: B002D6EWXA
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 238,189 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
2009 sees the 40th-ish anniversary of the Strawbs. I say "ish" because it's actually the 40th anniversary of their first record which isn't really the same thing, as they actually began life five years earlier as a bluegrass band called the Strawberry Hill Boys. In fact, to be scrupulously accurate, their first record came out in June 1968, with their first album coming out in 1969. Whatever... this year sees a couple of special live shows lined up which will see five different lineups of the band performing the music of yore. So what better time for the band to put out a brand new studio album?

Their bluegrass period didn't last once main man Dave Cousins started writing, and they quickly became mainstays of the UK folk-rock scene. However, once Rick Wakeman arrived on keyboards, alongside a new rhythm section consisting of Richard Hudson and John Ford, they added a progressive rock edge to their sound on albums like the live "Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios" and the studio sets, "From The Witchwood" and "Grave New World". The prog edge largely vanished once Dave Lambert arrived, something that coincided with the pop success of singles 'Lay Down' and 'Part Of The Union' and album "Bursting At The Seams".

After their most successful lineup imploded, Cousins and Lambert put together a new Strawbs, which concentrated its attentions on the USA, and it's the nucleus of this version that is back together in 2009. The band went on hiatus in 1980 when Cousins departed for a career in radio, but there have been a few reunions over the years including headlining the 1983 Cambridge Folk Festival with the "Grave New World" lineup, a twenty fifth anniversary tour in 1993 and a thirtieth anniversary celebration.
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Format: Audio CD
Simply stunning! Where this gorgeous album has come from, I can't begin to imagine, especially after the disappointment of last year's "The Broken Hearted Bride" but, frankly, I'm not going to worry about it, and shall simply enjoy the music!

In "Dancing to the Devil's Beat" The Strawbs have produced another great progressive folk-rock album, reminiscent of "From the Witchwood", which harks back nearly forty years. It's perhaps strange then that the keyboard player on this album should be Oliver Wakeman, son of the very famous Rick, who of course played on that iconic album. There might be nothing quite as strong as the fabulous "Hangman and the Papist" on this album but Oliver's keyboards playing, and choice of keyboards, is perfectly suited to the music, often enhancing it significantly, in a similar way to his dad's playing many years ago.

The album begins with a couple of moody, rocky numbers that Oliver Wakeman really brings another dimension to, making them fizz with his keyboards, before the album takes on a folkier slant which lasts virtually to the end. It's superbly performed, with Dave Cousins at the top of his game.

The folky "The Man Who Would Never Leave Grimsby" has a slightly different feel in that it is written and sung by guitarist Dave Lambert - of course, having various songwriters and vocalists is nothing new to The Strawbs; it is indeed a feature of their music, and cements the comparison with the "From the Witchwood" era, which had Tony Hooper and Richard Hudson off-setting Cousins's writing and vocal.

Another song with a slightly different feel is "The Ballad of Jay and Rose Mary", which has a very late-night-jazz club feel about it.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A strong album from the current Strawbs lineup - which is the Hero and Heroine lineup minus John Hawken but with the addition of Oliver Wakeman. The styles range from ballads (Copenhagen, about the time when Sandy Denny was in the band) to multi part prog rock epics (Pro-Patria Suite, about the first world war.) Dave Cousins voice may be an aquired tasted, but it has lost none of its bite and his lyrics are up to their usual high standard, and not afraid to tackle politcal themes. The songs are varied and hark back to the Strawbs long history - opening track is a proggy, violin driven epic, The Man Who would never Leave Grimsby is an acoustic ballad, while the following track, the ballad of Jay and Rose Mary has a blues shuffle to it, a reminder of the band's early work and the tracks from later albums in the 1970s. The only weakness is when the band attempt an out and out rock track in the title track in the style of Deep Purple. Even so, this is driven by some an excellent organ and guitar playing.

Absolutely recommended for anyone who dabbled with any era of the Strawbs eclectic back catalogue - and those who haven't may be surprised to find that there's plenty to enjoy here.
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By M. Ash VINE VOICE on 31 Aug. 2009
Format: Audio CD
My initial reaction to this album was one of disappointment. It just didn't strike me as being anywhere near up to the usual high quality of the band's work, and my initial review here reflected that.

A few months later and I've been giving this album another chance, aided by the fact that I've now got a different hi-fi set-up. Now I understand why the album has received positive reviews from other listeners, and it goes to prove what a difference a better quality hi-fi can make. Suddenly what sounded like poor production now comes across as nothing of the sort. The sound is excellent with Dave Cousins' vocals nicely up-front and plenty of detail from the rest of the band.

With the clarity of the sound sorted, the songs come over much more convincingly and the instrumental playing seems ideally suited to them. I still don't think Oliver Wakeman is on anything like his Dad's level (listen to 'From The Witchwood' for evidence of Rick Wakeman at his absolute peak) but he certainly brings something new to the table.

'Revenge (Can Be So Sweet)' gets the album off to a strong start with a memorable chorus and a similar overall sound to parts of 2008's brilliant 'The Broken Hearted Bride' album.

'The Man Who Would Never Leave Grimsby' is particularly fine, with some fine vocals from Dave Lambert. The lyrical reference to the band is tastefully done and the tale keeps you listening, which has long been a quality of Lambert's writing.

Another song I like is 'Copenhagen', although as a tribute to Sandy Denny I still prefer 'Ringing Down The Years'. Nevertheless the intimate production brings Cousins right into the room, and, as always, his singing pulls you right into the song and defies you not to listen.
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