I do not tend to use YouTube, in my mind it is mostly a collection of homemade videos of people doing really stupid things that likely resulted in a visit to the hospital, or cutesy videos of cats and dogs behaving in some bizarre manner.

However I upgraded my opinion of the site yesterday. I was researching a completely different topic and one of the Google hits led me to YouTube. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I was in the wonderful world of Dave Cousins and The Strawbs.

For those of you not familiar with The Strawbs, sit back and let me tell you all about them, and the rise of the Folk“ Prog Rock genre of music in the late 1960s and 1970s in England.

Who actually started it is still a question in my mind. The marriage between traditional folk music and modern instruments was magic. What I do know is that there were three major players in the genre, Dave Cousins and his band The Strawbs, Fairport Convention, and Steeleye Span.

Drawing a family tree of these three bands would tax the ability of even the best genealogist, the same names keep popping up, and 40 years later, the same is true. What I do know is that these men and women were and are some of the very best musicians that I have had the pleasure to listen to, and in some cases talk to.

I first encountered The Strawbs in 1970 when they released Just A Collection Of Antiques And Curios. It was not their first album, but it certainly was a pivotal one for them. The band consisted of Dave Cousins, Rick Wakeman (yes the YES guy), John Ford, and Richard Hudson.

It was a line-up where everyone had a well defined role. Although in retrospect I think it was a sad loss when Sandy Denny left The Strawbs in favor of Fairport Convention. Her song Who Knows Where The Time Goes is a classic that Fairport recorded and many others have covered. But My favorite version is with The Strawbs.

Obviously this is a very folky and acoustic piece, and maybe it did not fit into the vision that Dave Cousins had for The Strawbs. Antiques And Curios took the band into a very different arena. The dark themes that Sandy Denny brought to the table were now married with some complimentary themed keyboards by Rick Wakeman.

The Antique Suite is a fine example.

In the track Martin Luthers Dream we start to really see the power of Rick Wakeman.

Antiques And Curios was gobbled up by Strawbs fans, but never received the wider attention that the band richly deserved. I do however think that it represents a turning point. It proved that in music, old folk traditions could marry with modern instruments.

It was back to the studio for the band, a new album was being born From The Witchwood, this one would set the corner stone for the future of The Strawbs.

More on that in the next article.

For more information about The Strawbs, they have a great Web Site Here.

Simon Barrett

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