What does it sound like?:
In the “Two Weeks” booklet that’s part of this re-mastered set Cousins explains that he was keen to record songs that he couldn’t interest his Strawbs band mates in, or had “drums and electric bass too high in the mix” for the folk fans that had lapped up the Strawbs “Grave New World”. This meant he could bring in Roger Glover, re unite with Rick Wakeman and have the Keef Hartley Band’s Miller Anderson play guitar.
Nonetheless, it’s not a rock opus. The title track is a twinkesome and frothy, whilst the vocal only “October To May” would fit any folk album, as would the simple piano of “That’s The Way It Ends”. Cousins stretches out more on “The Actor” which has in your face wah guitar from Anderson, but is ruined by a vocal that’s been run through some kind of oscillator. Luckily on one of the bonus tracks you get a version with unprocessed vocal that shows how good the song otherwise is. Wakeman does a splendid job on “Ways and Means” although sadly the vocals are once again phased and flanged to no beneficial effect, and this time the bonus alternate take provides little relief. All in all, a bit of a mixed bag.
Both “Two Weeks” and “Deep Cuts” include “Blue Angel”. It’s appearance on the re-master of the latter is as a bonus track, as it was shelved from the original release. The re-recorded version is sharper and bolder but across 10 minutes it does sometimes feel that it’s trying just a little to hard to be epic.
So whilst “Two Weeks” wasn’t a hard left turn to rock n roll, by the time of “Deep Cuts” original release (just four years later) the Strawbs were approaching an adjacent post code. A middling popish start with “I Only Want My Love To Grow In You” (really?) makes way for the chugging guitar of “Turn Me Round”. The vocal is a bit oversold but at least it isn’t flanged. There’s some whimsy in the shape of “Hard Hard Winter” and “Wasting My Time”, although this one grows on you in a “When I’m 64” kind of way.
”My Friend Peter” channels “Tobacco Road” whilst “Simple Visions” guitar signature ended up becoming a real ear worm. Best cut on the album is the prog flavoured “The Soldiers Tale” which gallops along with Dave Lambert’s guitar featured. Cousins describes “Deep Cuts” as “the best sounding album the Strawbs ever produced” and for me sits far better than their earlier work.
What does it all *mean*?
I wasn’t familiar with either album. Now I’m pleased to say I am. Well, “Deep Cuts” anyway.
Goes well with…
A Tunnock’s teacake.
Out now in all good music shops
Might suit people who like…
Either folk or rock but probably not both.