Strawbs
Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios


4.0
excellent

Review

by e210013 USER (93 Reviews)
March 21st, 2017 | 30 replies


Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is almost an unknown and an underrated piece of Strawbs. But it represents the beginning of Strawbs as a prog band.

“Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious” is the debut live album of Strawbs and was released in 1970. The line up on the album is Dave Cousins, Tony Hooper, Rick Wakeman, John Ford and Richard Hudson.


Strawbs is a rock band founded in 1964. The group started out as a bluegrass group, but in the late of the 60’s they turned as an acoustic folk band. However, they eventually moved on to other styles such as folk rock, progressive rock, and glam rock. They started with the name of Strawberry Hill Boys but in 1967 the name was shortened to Strawbs. The group was always guided by their leader, the most active songwriter, guitarist and singer, Dave Cousins.

In 1969 and 1970 Strawbs released their first two studio albums, “Strawbs” and “Dragonfly”, with guitarist/vocalist Dave Cousins, guitarist Tony Hooper and double bassist Ron Chesterman. Those albums are pretty much firmly in the folk-rock vein. Curiously, then they weren’t never released outside of the UK, despite being released on A&M, a major American label. After that, the band witnessed a big shakeup in their line up, with Chesterman have gone, and the coming of drummer/percussionist Richard Hudson and bassist John Ford, with keyboardist Rick Wakeman now in full-time. Supposedly, he was a guest musician on “Dragonfly”. Wakeman was at the time known as a session musician. He was best known for the mellotron work on David Bowie’s second studio album, “Space Oddity”, where he performed that instrument on the title track. With this decision, the leader of the group, Cousins, showed that he had far higher ambitions for the band and soon hired the then unknown Rick Wakeman to turn the group into a more progressive rock musical direction. And thanks God he did it. With that decision he proved that he was a man of great musical vision.

In July 11th, 1970, this new line up performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Of those recordings the group released their album “Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios”. In reality, “Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios” was their third album, but their first interesting one from a progressive point of view. It was actually a live album. And for their benefit, this album got released outside of the UK, including the United States, giving them international exposure. It might seem a bit strange a live album should be the first Strawbs album that people outside of the UK heard. But it has to be pointed that, aside from “Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth”, an original track of their self-entitled debut album, all of the material presented here is brand new. Mainly, the band was still sticking to their folk-rock roots, although thanks to Wakeman, the progressive rock elements were starting to surface on the band’s music.

About the tracks and as I said before, with the exception of a very extended version of “Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth”, which is a live version taken from their eponymous debut album, all the tracks were new ones. The band’s desire for becoming more progressive is best heard in the 12 minute track, “The Antique Suite”, which is divided into several good parts dominated by Wakeman’s harpsichord, Richard Hudson’s congas and Cousins’ very distinctive voice that always has been one of Strawbs’ best trademarks. The earlier mentioned version “Where Is This Dream Of Your Youth” features a long and fantastic organ solo from Wakeman that easily is among his best ones. The album also included a pure solo piece for Wakeman in form of “Temperament Of Mind”, which is basically a medley of several classical themes played on piano. This was the track that made the music press for the first time declaring Wakeman as a keyboard wizard. The rest of the album consisted of three folk ballads, where “Song Of A Sad Little Girl” is the best one. The lyrics of the track “Martin Luther King’s Dream”, are interestingly enough and represents the last speak he ever performed before he was assassinated, while “Fingertips” is a slightly psychedelic piece of music with some nice sitar work from Hudson. The album was only the beginning of Strawbs’ evolution towards progressive rock and is therefore only a transitional work. Anyway, this is still a very enjoyable album where all the material here is really good.


Conclusion: “Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curious” is a great live album. From the restraint on the part of the rhythm section, to the track selection, to the fusion of folk and classical influences, this album has a really incredible collection of tracks. Unfortunately, this is almost an unknown and an underrated work. But despite Wakeman’s presence, you have to bear in mind that this isn’t Yes, or one of his solo efforts. Strawbs have their own sound and identity. While many people look towards the albums Strawbs made between 1971 and 1975, “From The Witchwood”, “Grave New World”, “Bursting At The Seams”, “Hero And Heroine” and “Ghosts”, this early album is great too, even if there’s only minor progressive rock tendencies on it. “Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios” is without any kind of doubt one of the best of their early albums, and I much highly recommend it to everybody who likes great music.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



Recent reviews by this author
Il Bacio Della Medusa Discesa agl'inferi d'un giovane amantePeter Banks Two Sides of Peter Banks
Jon Anderson Olias Of SunhillowAnderson Bruford Wakeman Howe An Evening of Yes Music Plus
Yes YesshowsYes Yessongs
user ratings (10)
Chart.
4.3
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
March 21st 2017


2002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Finally I decided to edit a review of one of my favourite prog bands, that we can say that they belong to a kind of a second league of prog, one of the best indeed, with other names like Renaissance, Supertramp and Caravan, only to mention three of them.

And I did this right now, becuase it seems to be very apropiated in this moment, next to my previous reviews about the two live albums of the isle of Wight. All these albums are live, all are of the beggining showing their initial career, all were, somehow, very important for all these bands and above all, all three are a bit unnoticed for the people in general, even to the prog fans.

So, I hope you enjoy it.

I count with your comments.

e210013
March 21st 2017


2002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ Jethro

As I told you on my comment of the review of Jethro Tull of the isle of Wight, when you mentioned to me all those names trying to guess what would be my next review, I wrote that one of them would be reviewed, soon, very soon, because its review was already ready. So, here it is.

I hope you enjoy it, because I know you love the album. And it seems that this time, you love it even more then I do. Ah, Ah, Ah,...

Jethro42
March 21st 2017


15439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, it's rare that my ratings are getting higher than yours, there must be a mistake hahaha.

Album is rather short and is running fast with these 6 songs. Among the bonus tracks, there is ''Vision of the Lady of the Lake'' which is one of my favorite songs by them. The original one is even better though.

I never noticed there were only the last song to be found on an album. That song rendition is better than the original, thanks to the keyboard solo by Wakeman. I love every songs here. Fingertips is my least favorite but it's still good. Because of that song, I was near to rate the album at a 4 myself. A lot of From the Witchwood songs would not be out of place into that live album. Songs are of the same mood and of the same style.

I wish there were more fans of Strawbs here on Sputnik.

Great review, bro. And it's cool that you covered that live album.

Divaman
March 21st 2017


2445 Comments


An album I'm not familiar with, but a band I love well. Thanks e.

Digging: Loreena McKennitt - Lost Souls

TwigTW
March 21st 2017


3264 Comments


I'm only familiar with one Strawbs album, Deadlines. After listening to this, I wonder how accurately it represents the band's sound. I like the singers voice and Rick Wakeman sounds great too. I gave the original version a couple of spins today, but I'm looking forward to hearing the whole thing with the bonus tracks tomorrow.

Digging: Israel Nash - Israel Nash's Silver Seasons

Jethro42
March 22nd 2017


15439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Twig; Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios has many similarities with the transitional folk rock album From the Witchwood. Band would later evolve into progressive rock in the form of prog folk, so they partially kept their folk roots. So through all their classic period (Grave New World, Bursting at the Seams, Hero and Heroine and Ghost), we can detect traces of this live album and of From the Witchwood as well.

e210013
March 22nd 2017


2002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ Jethro

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that must be a mistake, probably mine.

Now, seriously. About ''Vision Of The Lady Of The Lake'' I agree. This is also one of my favourite tracks from them. This is even most impressive becuse originally the track was recorded on their second studio album "Dragonfly", a truly prog track on an album which isn't properly a prog album.

I also agree that many of the songs of their third studio album "From The Witchwood" would not be out of place into this live album, if they were already written. And yes, the presence of Wakeman gave another life to the music of the band.

In relation to the lack of love to Strawbs on Sputnik, you're right, it's a pity. However, I can see right now, that there are some here beyond we both, Divaman and Twig. So, we aren't alone.

Thanks, bro. You're welcome. As I told you before, I intend review many of the great albums, especially those who were released in the 70's.

e210013
March 22nd 2017


2002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ Divaman

You're welcome man. As you love the band you must check it soon as you can. First, because this is great album, the first great album from them. Second because this is the album that presents to the world a young keyboardist, which perhaps became the best rock keyboardist of ever.

Thanks too, dude.

e210013
March 22nd 2017


2002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ Twig

Jethro said practically all I want to tell you about Strawbs. In short, all the albums released before this one and until 1975 are great and belong to their classic golden era. I'm talking about "From The Witchwood", the last album of Strawbs with Wakeman on board before he be member of Yes, "Grave New World", "Bursting At The Seams", "Hero And Heroine" and Ghosts". Of all those albums, "Grave New World" and "Hero And Heroine" are considered their greate masterpieces.

About "Deadlines" is a good album but is far way in terms of quality when compared with the others mentioned by me. It's the same with "Nomadness", "Deep Cuts" and "Burning For You", all albums of the 70's. These albums are more rock and electric when compared with the others more folk and acoustic, which really represents the truly ADN of the band. By the other hand, the two first albums "Strawbs" and "Dragonfly", most aren't properly prog rock albums but are two good albums. However and as I mentioned before on my comment to Jethro, "Dragonfly" has one of their best and most prog tracks ''Vision Of The Lady Of The Lake''.

I hope my comment can be useful to you, dude.

Jethro42
March 22nd 2017


15439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Here's another great acoustic track found on Cousins' solo album Two Weeks Last Summer [1972], called ''Blue Angel''. Song was also appearing on Strawbs' Blue Angel album [2003] (the first version is more heartfelt). I'm sure you know that song, e21.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_KB0Ow4fVo

TwigTW
March 22nd 2017


3264 Comments


Thanks guys . . . I like Deadlines fine, but it never tempted me to dig any deeper into the band's catalog. This makes me want to hear more. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction with your album explanations . . . I could rate this a 4 right now, but I want to give it a few more listens to see if it grows into a 4.5 (I think it might). The album strikes the perfect balance between the band's folk guitar and Wakeman's keyboards. I love "Where is the Dream of Your Youth.'' What a great album closer! . . . listened to the album with the bonus tracks today. I liked them, but I think the album is great. without them too. Nice to hear ''The Vision of the Lady of the Lake'' after everything you guys wrote about it. I can see why you like it so much.

e210013
March 23rd 2017


2002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ Jethro

Unfortunately you're wrong. I really don't know that track yet. In reality, I can say that I'm an expert only on their albums of the 70's. But, I'm not very comfortable about their stuff released after that period. However, you whet my appetite for Cousins' debut solo studio album. I'll check it, I hope even today, and I'll tell you something later.

e210013
March 23rd 2017


2002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ Twig

Yeah, I'm glad you liked it. The album is really good, almost a lost pearl of the 70's. Do that, check their best albums. After this one, perhaps you can check, by this order, "From The Witchwood", a transitional album, still an album with Wakeman, followed by "Grave New World", perhaps their most acoustic stuff with great sonwritting and arrangements and in the next, "Hero And Heroine" where a classical sensibility can be perfectly combined with rock music. Finally, "Hero And Heroine" and in the end "Bursting At The Seams".

What you said before, in your other comment, about the voice of Cousins, I'm really glad you like it. As you know, he has a very peculiar voice, not to say strange, a voice I always loved too. However, it isn't for all tastes. We can say that he has one of the most peculiar voices of the 70's. Anyway, it isn't an exception. In this moment it come to my mind some other peculiar voices, such as the voice of Geddy Lee of Rush and the voice of David Surkamp of Pavlov's Dog, which has many common points. Even the voice of Jon Anderson of Yes isn't an acquired taste.

So, I hope you enjoy the other albums from the band, as I do.

TwigTW
March 23rd 2017


3264 Comments


I will definitely check that album with Wakeman next. I love him in this setting . . . Yeah, Cousins' voice has a nasal quality that I don't usually find attractive, but on him it sounds good. He knows how to use it to his advantage. Sometimes a peculiarity can make a singer's voice more distinctive and interesting.

e210013
March 23rd 2017


2002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree.

Jethro42
March 23rd 2017


15439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Twig; Given the fact you love this live album, From the Witchwood has to be the next to listen to indeed, since both have pretty much the same atmosphere. From the Witchwood is mostly acoustic folk rock, tinged of space folk and psych of the 60's and it already shows the things to come shortly after it; ambitious prog folk which is found in Grave New World, Hero And Heroine, Bursting at the Seams and Ghosts. (Go in that order). And if you want to take a look at the ''From the Witchwood'' thread, I just did a song ranking of the album there.

By the way, here is the original ''Vision of the Lady of the Lake''...It rules so hard!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKjbVzGuCNU

TwigTW
March 23rd 2017


3264 Comments


Thanks Jethro, everyone points to From The Witchwood, so that's my next stop . . .

Jethro42
March 23rd 2017


15439 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cheers Twig!

@e21, I think I listened to Dave Cousins' first solo album only once, couple years ago. Now I revisited it and I liked what I heard. I think Dave has enjoyed himself by doing that album. At some point, it's kind of a lost Strawbs album, except for couple of songs including a rock and roll one and a bluesy one. I could imagine almost the entire album positioned right after From the Witchwood. Take note that Rick Wakeman and Dave Lambert are on board.

The ''Blue Angel'' suite was considered as a missing epic Strawbs tune in those years, and it's the absolute highlight in there. The t/t, ''The Actor''and ''When You Were A Child'' stand out as well. In fact, there's only one song I don't care for, and it's ''Ways and Means''. The closer is a dated rock'n roll song, but it's well done.

TheIntruder
March 24th 2017


390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I never paid much attention to this band. Probably I'm wrong. So I'm going to check this album due to such nice references about it.

e210013
March 24th 2017


2002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Do that, man. You'll see that you'll not regret. They're really a great band. In my opinion they're the second best prog folk band of the 70'0s, right after Jethro Tull. Of course you must be careful with the voice of Dave Cousins. It isn't for everyone's taste.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy