I don't really subscribe to the casual assessment that the Strawbs are a folk band who became a prog rock band, thanks to Rick Wakeman. This, their first 'proper' album is a mixture of styles ranging from world music, pop and psychedelia as well as folk. In fact, I'd say that the Strawbs fall somewhere inbetween the Moody Blues and Jethro Tull on this record.
Opening track, 'The Man Who Called Himself Jesus' opens with a male voice chatting that turns out to be none other than Richard 'Victor Meldrew' Wilson, obviously long before he was famous. The song itself is a catchy satire that was banned from the radio due to it's subject matter, despite being quite inoffensive really. Having said that, it was the 1960s.
'Tell Me what You See In Me' is a slice of sitar driven, Middle Eastern flavoured psychedelic pop that wouldn't sound out of place on the Moodies 'In Search of The Lost Chord' album. Wonderful track.
'Where Is The Dream Of Your Youth' is similar in that respect, but points more towards the proggier direction the band would later take.
Closing track 'The Battle' is an excellent dramatic tale of war, as depicted through a chess board and its epic feel ends the album superbly.
The rest of the tracks have a nice, quintessentially English folk appeal, stuffed to the gills with jangling acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies of which the Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd-esqe 'Poor Jimmy Wilson' is a highlight.
This is a terrific 'debut' from a band that you can tell had already been making music in one form or another for a number of years prior, notably with future Fairport Convention singer, Sandy Denny.
A lot of people will obviously focus on the Strawbs connection with Rick Wakeman, which would begin with the follow up to this album; 1970s' 'Dragonfly'. This is unfair, because as this album proves, there is so much more to this band than Wakeman, especially with Dave Cousins' songwriting alone, which is top, top quality.