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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 18 February 2004
I saw the Strawbs in concert way back, when Part of the Union had just got to number 1 in England - happy days! Great then to hear this CD in all its glory rather than on a clapped out tape!
It's hard to be objective when you know the songs so well, but Down by the Sea still sends a shiver down the spine, and now in digital sound...
This is an album that manages to mix some very varied musical styles, but does so because of great songwriting, excellent musicians and a fabulous production. Stills sound as good now as it did when my hair was much longer!
If you are new to the Strawbs buy this album, you will not be disappointed.
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on 26 May 2000
The commercial peak of the group in UK, 'Bursting at the Seams' shows the group combinig folk (Lady Fuschia), pub songs (Part of the Union), folk-rock(Lay Down) and prog epics (Down by the Sea). The central piece is the magnificent 'The River/Down by the Sea', easyly one of my all-time favourite songs. Strongly recommended.
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on 16 April 2007
The album that marked Strawbs' greatest success and highest profile in Britain. Subsequent albums attracted greater following across the Atlantic. Two chart hits - Lay Down being the far superior and again (sorry about the over-use) one of the greatest and most genuinely uplifting pop-songs of all time. Most of Bursting is sheer life enhancing magic - haunting and disturbing - Down by the Sea, and The River. 'Tears and Pavane' is the track that has stayed with me for thirty years - an exquistite masterpiece. In fact Strawbs are still about and often tour as an acoustic trio, still performing Tears, while the rest of life stands still for six and a half minutes.

Of the bonus tracks, their working of 'Will You Go' is the most worthwhile.

All who know Strawbs will claim they were the most underated band ever - it's a mystery - although I have my hunches.
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It is ironic that "Bursting at the Seams" was the break through album for the Strawbs because it marked the last major transformation of the group as Lambert replaced Hudson & Ford as the secondary creative force behind David Cousins. Hudson & Ford provides the diverse offers of the airy "Lady Fuschia" and the pub favorite "Part Of The Union," while Lambert's first offering with the group, "The Winter and the Summer" is his best for my money. Hudson & Ford also team up with Cousins on the Pavan half of "Tears and Pavan," which is a personal favorite (I used it as music for scene changes in a one-act production of Christopher Fry's "The Lady's Not For Burning").
"Down By The Sea" is not only one of the first big hits for the group, but perhaps their biggest as well. One of the DJs in Albuquerque gave the song some serious airplay and as a result the group was able to do a concert in that particular neck of the woods. "Flying," "Stormy Down" and "Lay Down" are the other major Cousins efforts on the album, featuring his diverse vocal stylings, which always tended to remind me of Cat Stevens for some reason, but admittedly not everyone hears the similarities.
One interesting retrospective quirk to note: when the Strawbs performed in concert their encore usually consisted of doing "The River" to set up the pounding notes of "Down By The Sea." On the album the songs appear in the reverse order, so just program your CD player accordingly. The bonus tracks are okay, although they do take away from the children singing the last track, "Thank You," one of the more interesting ways to end an album since "Abbey Road."
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on 30 October 2001
The sheer sublety of the Visconti production spent many a year waiting for CD, and waiting to be digitally remastered. It was so far ahead of the game. The songwriting is par excellence, the perfomances likewise. A classic, which I have bought 3 times (2 vinyls worn out, and one CD bought).
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on 30 June 2011
One of a string of big hit albums by the Strawbs, their sudden fame brought on by the single Part of the Union, which any true Strawbs fan will tell you, is about as unlike the rest of their musical output as you can get. That track is here and rather sits out on its own among its brethren, a sort of melodic glam prog. I'd never actually liked that song until recently, when someone told me it isn't actually a rabble-rousing beerglass-smashing call to arms, but rather a very subtle tongue-in-cheek poke at the state of the Unions in the early 1970s. The remastering has given the guitar work a fresh acid sharpness and brought out details only muffled before. Down By The Sea marked an epic new direction for Cousin's songwriting, while Lay Down really should have been the international mega-smash that the Union song became. One of a very few albums that will never go out of fashion, however pop and rock music may evolve today and tomorrow.
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The Strawbs were mightily popular back in the 1970s, being a kind of 'prog folk rock' band with an international appeal. To my mind BATS is musically their most consistent album, with an atmosphere all its own - lush, romantic, windswept, its orchestral (or at least synth-backed) arrangements a perfect backdrop to the warm and whiskered tones of singer Dave Cousins.
Their biggest hit Part of the Union is a rude interruption bang in the middle of proceedings, but their other hit from BATS, Lay Down - here in all its lengthy glory as well as its trimmed single version - is here too, so all is not lost. (I have nothing much against POTU, but it really does break the mood.)
Not all the songs are sung by the distinctive Cousins, The Winter and the Summer being a Dave Lambert song which he sings very nicely indeed.
This isn't a record which has particular 'highlights' or best tracks, though I have a special fondness for the hauntingly urgent, ominous, wild and wanton Stormy Down with its jittery refrain:

Oh, I was high on Stormy Down
thinking of my friends below

It`s a great track which, having played it, I invariably need to go back and hear again. A 'desert island disc' in fact. There`s something West Country about it, which is odd since it describes a night on a hill in South Wales!
Lay Down is another great song, a deserved hit for this mainly album band.
Thank You rounds off the LP (well, it was an LP when I first owned a copy) and is a ditty sung by DC with a group of children. It's a curiously affecting - and, it must be said, mercifully brief - way to end the album.
The three extras on this welcome remaster consist of a pleasant re-imagining of Wild Mountain Thyme, here called Will You Go, the excellent Backside, and the single version of Lay Down - good to have both versions of this classic, and a fine and storming way to end the CD.
I`d give BATS about 9 out of 10, but let`s be generous. Nothing else could sound quite like Cousins and his crew on this lush and lovely suite of Strawberry sumptuousness.

For me, their best LP/album/CD!
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on 16 October 2008
I absolutely adore this album. It has to be one of my favourite albums of all time. Admittedly I only came to Strawbs in 1998 (when the first batch of remastered CDs hit the market) but I feel i've known this album for many more years.
Elegant, emotional and enlightening - I can't describe it any fairer than that. It is hard for me to pick any particular song here that stands out. They all do. Lady Fuschia, Tears & Pavan and The Winter & The Summer are all bursting (sorry for the pun) with feeling. I escape to a better place when playing this album.
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on 11 October 2009
One of the best Strawbs' albums along with Grave New World. A tremendous mix with Lay Down and Part of the Union being the most commercial and up-beat and with Tears and Pavan and Down by the Sea more moody and dark. But really there is not a bad song on this album. One thing does disappoint and that is the sleeve notes. Although they give great background info they do not give the words to the songs whereas the original vinyl did (same complaint for Grave New World).
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on 14 August 2009
I was looking through my collection to restock the car with music (longish drive to work) and had a what happened to them moment. imagine my joy when I found this in cd form. This album for me, is the blend of folk-rock that can only be English. If the medeival bards had a rock band as backing group this would be the sound. Fantastic. Eyes glued on the letter box, can't wait.
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