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Strawbs: The Broken Hearted Bride (remaster + bonus tracks)

Released 13 years ago, that Strawbs’ 17th studio album, The Broken Hearted Bride has been out of print for some time is testimony to the die-hard nature of their music buying fans. Always ready to step into the breach when an album is proving difficult to find, Esoteric/Cherry Red have not only re-released the album but remastered the whole shebang and added three bonus track to boot! So, what’s all the fuss about then I hear you ask? And the answer I’ve come up with seems to change from song to song, what with The Broken Hearted Bride proving a decidedly unsteady companion through brilliance and ordinary.

Possessing what many see as the classic line-up of the band - David Cousins (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Dave Lambert (vocals, guitar), Chas Cronk (bass, guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, pre-production & programming) and Rod Coombes (drums) - there’s no denying the chemistry when everything clicks into gear, the album’s title track a pleasantly driven rocker that proves hard to resist, while the opening cut, “The Call To Action” pulses with a real sense of urgency that only builds as its Eastern themes head towards their crescendo. However, sandwiched in between comes the decidedly lacklustre “Too Many Angels”, where Cousins seems to struggle with the overtly saccharine delivery the song’s tweeness requires. Add in the punchless “Through Aphrodite’s Eyes” and you’d think this album comes near to toppling into nothingness, and yet “Shadowland” grows into a serious piece of 60s/70s rock of real intent and heft, before “You Know As Well As I” delights in a much more stripped back, acoustic setting. And then “Everybody Knows” veers off the tracks again and I’m left scratching my head at the inconsistency of it all.

Four bonus tracks add value, “We’ll Meet Again (retro track)” changing feel completely but in a most satisfying style, while the demo/retro takes on three of the main album’s tracks proves that in an alternative arrangement these songs tell very different stories.

Strawbs are very much a treasure to behold, and that they were still putting out music of such ambition some 39 years after their debut can’t be underestimated. The Broken Hearted Bride may not be my own personal favourite from the band, but when it’s good, it verges on being bloody well brilliant. It’s just a shame that it can’t quite maintain that high standard.

Track Listing
1. The Call To Action

2. Christmas Cheer (Everything’s Going To Be Alright)

3. Too Many Angels

4. The Broken Hearted Bride

5. Shadowland

6. Through Aphrodite’s Eyes

7. Deep In The Darkest Night

8. You Know As Well As I

9. Everybody Knows

10. Action Replay

11. We’ll Meet Again Some Time (retro track)

12. Too Many Angels (demo version) (retro track)

13. You Know As Well As I (demo version) (retro track)

14. Everybody Knows (demo version) (retro track)

Added: December 2nd 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Straws @ Cherry Red
Hits: 627
Language: english

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