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4.7 out of 5 stars19
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 16 November 2002
"Hero and Heroine" is considered by most fans to be the best album produced by the Strawbs. Certainly this album is a concerted group effort: keyboard player John Hawken provides the evocative "Heroine's Theme" that begins the opening "Autumn" suite, bassist Chas. Cronk teams with Cousins on "Midnight Sun," and while guitarist Dave Lambert's "Just Love" is the track that least fits the overall theme of the album, his "Hero's Theme" serves as a nice closing counterpart to the moody opening. Of course the prime tracks are those composed by Cousins, exemplified by the dramatic title track that may well surpass ""Down by the Sea" as the group's best work (pay attention to not just Hawken's organ work but what he does on the harpsichord) and the equally frenetic "Round and Round." For those who like Cousins more intimate work, there is "Lay a Little Light on Me" and "The Winter Long" finale of the "Autumn" suite. Following the final transformation of the group during the production of "Bursting at the Seams," the "Hero and Heroine" album solidifies the musical identity that the Strawbs would explore further in their "Ghosts" album. Of all the "progressive" rock groups of the seventies, the Strawbs were distinct in their willingness to produce music you would think of as darker or more moody, as they more than proved on their next album, "Ghosts." This version has a pair of bonus tracks, "Still Small Voice" and an earlier version of "Lay A Little Little On Me." These are nothing special, but is it always nice to get a little extra with a CD than you had with the original record.
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on 5 November 2001
This is the Strawbs masterwork. Hero and Heroine is a brilliant concept album that flows seamlessly from cut to cut creating an aural landscape for the imagination and ear alike. The musicianship is uniquely rich, creating complex instrumental themes without succumbing to mindless noodling or tangential dead ends. The only weak moment is Dave Lambert's Just Love which would have been better suited for No Madness. Dave Cousins vision speaks loudly here as it is his songs that create the centerpiece and success of this curious and enjoyable recording. A 70's English prog masterpiece...Simon
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on 29 June 2011
Moving from dylanesque folk through gospel rock and finally to Progressive Rock, the Strawbs have one of the most colourful histories of any British band, and at last count were still going strong. This album is widely seen (by myself also) as their crowning glory, smoothly combining a bunch or short catchy single-length songs with concept-spanning epics. With the recent departure of the formidable songwriting duo Hudson Ford, responsible for many of their early hits, Cousins and Lambert had to strtech their talents to a full album between them, enlisting along the way the assistance of pianist Hawken, previously responsible for the original 1969 Renaissance line-up. The album marked a creative peak after which continuing line-up changes and the changing commercial requirements of music industry bosses saw this kind of music getting thrown out like the baby with the proverbial bath water. Out of a string of acceptably excellent albums, this was the one the 2011 line-up re-recorded afresh, confirming what we already know that it is their finest achievement.
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on 24 March 2013
I am a casual Strawbs fan, having heard most of their albums up to about 1980. Of those, this one is my favourite, to me it is a great and lovely album. The mood of the songs run well into each other so there is a sense of continuity and there is a masterful use of synthesizers, and some lovely melodies and evocative choruses. To me a lovely and memorable record.
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on 28 October 2003
"Hero and Heroine" is considered by most fans to be the best album produced by the Strawbs. Certainly this album is a concerted group effort: keyboard player John Hawken provides the evocative "Heroine's Theme" that begins the opening "Autumn" suite, bassist Chas. Cronk teams with Cousins on "Midnight Sun," and while guitarist Dave Lambert's "Just Love" is the track that least fits the overall theme of the album, his "Hero's Theme" serves as a nice closing counterpart to the moody opening. Of course the prime tracks are those composed by Cousins, exemplified by the dramatic title track that may well surpass ""Down by the Sea" as the group's best work (pay attention to not just Hawken's organ work but what he does on the harpsichord) and the equally frenetic "Round and Round." For those who like Cousins more intimate work, there is "Lay a Little Light on Me" and "The Winter Long" finale of the "Autumn" suite. Following the final transformation of the group during the production of "Bursting at the Seams," the "Hero and Heroine" album solidifies the musical identity that the Strawbs would explore further in their "Ghosts" album. Of all the "progressive" rock groups of the seventies, the Strawbs were distinct in their willingness to produce music you would think of as darker or more moody.
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on 11 October 2003
"Hero and Heroine" is considered by most fans to be the best album produced by the Strawbs. Certainly this album is a concerted group effort: keyboard player John Hawken provides the evocative "Heroine's Theme" that begins the opening "Autumn" suite, bassist Chas. Cronk teams with Cousins on "Midnight Sun," and while guitarist Dave Lambert's "Just Love" is the track that least fits the overall theme of the album, his "Hero's Theme" serves as a nice closing counterpart to the moody opening. Of course the prime tracks are those composed by Cousins, exemplified by the dramatic title track that may well surpass ""Down by the Sea" as the group's best work (pay attention to not just Hawken's organ work but what he does on the harpsichord) and the equally frenetic "Round and Round." For those who like Cousins more intimate work, there is "Lay a Little Light on Me" and "The Winter Long" finale of the "Autumn" suite. Following the final transformation of the group during the production of "Bursting at the Seams," the "Hero and Heroine" album solidifies the musical identity that the Strawbs would explore further in their "Ghosts" album. Of all the "progressive" rock groups of the seventies, the Strawbs were distinct in their willingness to produce music you would think of as darker or more moody.
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on 14 August 2013
This album may not have the song-writing highs of previous album Bursting at the Seams but it is consistently well-written and interesting. Strawbs had suffered a traumatic loss of personnel the previous year losing songwriters Hudson-Ford and keyboard whizz Blue Weaver. Nevertheless, new boys John Hawken, Chas Cronk and Rod Coombes acquit themselves very well here. Every track has merit and the band do not fall into the trap of including "filler" or songs which seem out of place, something they have always been prone to do.

Strawbs have had some excellent keyboard players over the years but Hawken remains my favourite. He pens opener "Heroines Theme" with its menacing Moog bass lines and soaring mellotron washes. This track segues into the melancholic "Deep Summer Sleep". This is a perfect example of Dave Cousins's pastoral writing and he sings it in a suitably gentle, Autumnal way. The song reprises Heroines Theme before morphing into the anthemic "The Winter Long", another Cousins composition, superbly sung by guitarist Dave Lambert. This concludes this three part track with the overall title of "Autumn".

Drummer Rod Coombes shows his writing ability with the wistful "Sad Young Man", a slightly sad little piece which nonetheless fits perfectly. Cousins sings the verses with Lambert taking the middle eight - something they've done with other songs which I feel works well.

The mood is then lightened by "Just Love", a rocker written and sung by Dave Lambert. The middle eight to this song is delightfully unexpected with piano and mellotron from John Hawken. Lambert's compositions have been criticised for seeming out of place on some albums but I feel that this works just fine here (though not as well as "The Winter and the Summer" on Bursting at the Seams).

Side one (of the original vinyl album) concludes with another Cousins composition "Shine on Silver Sun" featuring some excellent harmony vocals from bassist Chas Cronk. This was actually released as a single but failed to trouble the top 30 (surprise surprise).

The title track actually started life as a bluegrass number with a banjo-like picking underlying the verses. However Lambert and Hawken stick the boot in with a fantastic guitar and mellotron driven riff which turned it into a bit of a progressive rock classic.

"Midnight Sun" has Dave Cousins and Chas Cronk writing together for the first time. The pair would go on to write many songs for later albums. Alumnus Claire Deniz plays the 'cello which underpins the track. I suspect Cronk played 12-string here and sang the lion's share of the harmony vocals.

"Out in the Cold" starts with some uncredited harmonica playing (I'm not sure if they ever used this instrument again) and sets the stage for the oddly syncopated introduction to "Round and Round". Hawken's Moog once again features here with some solid guitar chords from Dave Lambert. Dave Cousins sings this perfectly, especially the sinister semi-spoken part near the end.

The album proper concludes with "Lay a Little Light on Me", a typical Cousins composition interleaved with a crunching guitar riff "Hero's Theme". "Oh save me someone" cries Dave C and you believe him. I also love the quirky reversed vocals at the end. This song appears in an early form as a bonus track, arranged with quite a different feel. Thank goodness they changed it!

I quite enjoyed the other bonus track "Still Small Voice". Shame it was never completed.

Unlike many other Strawbs albums (even their classics Bursting at the Seams and Grave New World), there is absolutely no dead wood on here at all. Buy this album now.
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on 16 August 2013
Was one of the best albums of the 70s which has stood the test of time very well. Hard to believe its 40 years old. So five stars for the music, but the remastering seems to be extremely bright and quite a few of the tracks suffer from ths quite badly. I bought the remastered version of Crime of the Century around the same time and this has definitely benefited from its aural tidy up. Maybe there will be a new version released for the 40th anniversary. Despite my misgivings on the sound this is one to add to your collection if you are a fan of 70s prog rock.
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on 23 April 2014
I saw this band live in the 70s....I had seen many famous bands in that time....but I will always remember the clear clean sound this group had !!
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on 26 June 2016
Another brilliant effort by The Strawbs. Especially the opening song, Autumn, is wonderfull.
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