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Strawbs: Dancing To The Devil's Beat

Through the years, the Strawbs have garnered a tremendous amount of respect in the progressive community and for good reason. It is a testament to the band that their new album Dancing To The Devil's Beat marks the 40th anniversary of their début single "Oh How She Changed" released in 1969. Even more impressive is the fact that the classic line-up remains in tact save for the replacement of John Hawkens by Oliver Wakeman (Korg keyboard, piano, Hammond organ, orchestrations), who weaves his magic throughout this disc. Let me start by saying this is a beautiful and heartfelt album retaining some of those classic progressive folk moments that has defined Strawb's music over the years.

Dancing To The Devil's Beat starts with the lilting "Revenge (Can Be So Sweet)" where Cousin's fragile voice ebbs and flows over a distinctive folk rock sound. "Beneath The Angry Sky" features Wakeman's organ and a rousing chorus. Lambert adds a short but sweet guitar solo and Coombe's drumming is impressive. The acoustic folk ballad "Copenhagen" is enhanced by crisp guitar and the fiddle work of Ian Cutler adds a layer of dreaminess to the sound. One of the album's best songs is the three part "Pro Patria Suite". The light and airy acoustics of part 1 is offset by the slightly more aggressive sounding part 2 where the rhythms have a little more crunch. Part 3 features a beautiful choral arrangement, one of the album's highlights.

The soldier tribute "Where The Silent Shadows Fall" is another fine slice of melodic folk rock ending with a dramatic build up that has all band members at their proggy best. The album ends strong with a reworking of "Oh How She Changed" that sees the band rocking out with excellent guitar from Lambert and Wakeman's fine orchestrations.

The final verdict – Dancing To The Devil's Beat is an excellent offering from the Strawbs. Progressive elements intertwine with lovely acoustic melodies occasionally taking us back to their classic period making this an album I can recommend without hesitation.

Track Listing:
1. Revenge (Can Be So Sweet)
2. Beneath The Angry Sky
3. Copenhagen
4. Pro Patria Suite
i) Back Along (We Were Young)
ii) All For Each Other
iii) Home Is Where The Heart Was Ever
5. Where The Silent Shadows Fall
6. The Man Who Would Never Leave Grimsby
7. The Ballad Of Jay And Rose Mary
8. Dancing To The Devil's Beat
9. Oh How She Changed

Added: October 31st 2009
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 2855
Language: english

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