Deep Cuts. I remember being very pleased when I bought it. It seemed to be a strong return to form after the uneven Nomadness in retrospect I now see that much of Nomadness is actually excellent, and "Hanging In The Gallery" and "Absent Friend" are works of genius, but the scatterbrained "To Be Free" put me off from the start. This is an excellent track, and the two Daves perform so well together; Lambert's guitar work and powerful vocals combine so well with Cousins' rather more downbeat performance.
Great opener to the album, received a tremendous amount of airplay and seemed assured of returning So Close And Yet So Far Away - Strawbs - Deep Cuts Strawbs to the top of the charts. Track Two, "Turn Me Round". I loved this when I bought it and I still love it now. The verse "Turn me round, let me see the tracery of the lines upon your face, as I kneel in contemplation of your majesty and grace. For the eagle in his sorrow is a man of sure disgrace" is so beautifully done, and then to be followed by the power chords and Cousins spitting out "My dove, my mediator, may you flourish in your solitude" etc.
Change of pace for track three, "Hard, Hard Winter". This is again beuatifully performed, an excellent tune which conjures up images of Canada Then, a downer. Don't like it. Never have.
Never will. But, back to form on track five, the outstanding "Soldiers' Tale". Fantastic lyrics, a real Strawbs classic in my opinion, right out of the tradition of long story songs. And I really like the rock arrangement, although it was originally aintended as a more folky song.
Side Two opens with the marvellous "Simple Visions". Again, one of my all-time favourites. I sing this all the time!! Starts in a straightforward, sing-along fashion but explodes into a guitar-led rush through wonderful lyrics. The instrumentation intrigues me on this - what creates that high pitched note that starts half way through and runs to the end, is it guitar, keyboard or fluff on my needle?
This also feels weak - it would have been better placed straight after the drama of "Simple Visions". Then "Beside The Rio Grande" - this really is straight out of the tradition of long story ballads. I think I prefer it as an acoustic song rather than as an electric number the reverse of "The Soldiers Tale". Great lyrics, great song. Should have finished the album on that mournful note "and left his weary bones to bleach Actually a good song, it feels shallow following the drama of the Rio Grande.
So, Deep Sire - Rosendo - Canciones Para Normales Y Mero Dementes is a flawed masterpiece. One poor track and some inappropriate track placings detract from one of the band's strongest albums.
It really deserved to sell in trillions. Such a shame. Even now I feel a pang at the injustice of it all I first paid any attention to Deep Cuts back at the end of the '70s, when the Strawbs had already issued Deadlinesand then a series of Best ofs, at a time when the dawn had really started to fall for the So Close And Yet So Far Away - Strawbs - Deep Cutswhich was only the shadow of itself.
I had stopped minding about the group's productions well before that. A girlfriend of mine had bought Deep Cuts and told me she liked some of it, although she did not know any of their previous work and had not the foggiest idea that this group had initially made albums at the antipodes of Deep Cutssuch as From The Witchwood or Dragonfly. She was about as eclectic in her tastes as me, as she was digging McCartney's Venus and Mars as well as 'classical' French songs Sex Crime (1984) - Eurythmics - Live 1983 - 1989 big "B"s: Brel, Brassens, Barbara,etc.
I had seen the record on her turntable, and did not dare to ask her to Erie Canal - The Weavers - Greatest Hits it for me. So as she went out to buy some wine, I played a bit of every tune, but felt nothing, nothing. The magic was gone. True, I had already purchased Burning For You which came after, because 1 I found the cover really nice!!
Perhaps with a title like Burning For Youand with the sentimental young man that I was at 22, I tended sometimes to identify myself with the fragile and sensitive man that I saw in David Cousins. Behind the flatly pop tunes on the album, I felt a worrying So Close And Yet So Far Away - Strawbs - Deep Cuts of doom and gloom, a sense that the end was near for the group, that Cousins was not doing what he wanted to do, but was caught by the commercial constraints of the time.
I listened to BFY perhaps 4 or 5 times, put it aside at the end of my chronologically ordered series of Strawbs vinyls, and then gave it to my sister who also loved the cover. And I did not even feel a regret for it. My interest for the Strawbs had started big time with Grave New World. Needless to say, I had effortlessly bought and fallen desperately in love with the whole Strawbs opus, including Bursting At The Seamsand ohyes!
I also lent Ghosts to my younger sister, but she never gave me back what I was lending her. Anyway, I didn't ask her to give me the record back, which meant that it was not such a big loss after all. Remember, we were still in the vinyl album era, and I did not really want to record on cassette the 3 or 4 tunes that I really liked on each of these albums.
For instance, after the brilliant, very Cousinesque!!! GhostsI would have to suffer through "Lemon Pie" which was as distasteful as a Betty Crocker's one. No, I just could not BELIEVE Cousins singing that song notwithstanding the sexual sous-entendus, the music was simply just plain flashy pop rock aiming at the charts, period.
So, very sadly, I looked at the covers of Nomadness. That alone should tell how disappointed I was. Well produced, very professionally played, a very catchy country rock beat, but definitely not inspiring. Shania Twain could do the song very well today, with a nice navel in bonus. Very catchy. One problem I have with it is that it simply does not match the strength of the lyrics. Had I never heard Cousins sing So Close And Yet So Far Away - Strawbs - Deep Cuts poetry before, I would perhaps had not noticed how much better a song a Cousins could have made with it had he been free from some need to "sound' commercial.
The way DC screams these words out of his thorax, it just sounds overblown to me, and there were plenty of arena rock groups at the time who would have sung the song better than Cousins, although they would never have been able to write such good lyrics to their tunes.
But we're supposed to like the Strawbs because they were different from the herd, aren't we? Now that Cousins was supported by an extremely competent band of pop rock musicians with Lambert, Cronk, Coombes and Kirby, although the poetry was still there, it has a lollypop effect rather than the tenderness that only Dave Cousins knew how to bring to a love song. BTW, another reference to State Of Shock - Various - Top Disc Sound 23 lady of the midnight sun" in the song: the same Swedish girl who was still haunting Dave?
My only question: who could possibly care? Major bump in the stream of my consciousness. Perhaps one of the worst songs by the Strawbs, but that subject was already discussed many times before Cousins strains his voice way too much on that one.
The lyrics are delightfully hermetic as only DC knows how to forge them, but again, I relate to the song by any stretch of imagination because of the music and the way it is played. Another so-so Danse Slave From Le Roi Malgré Lui - Paray* Conducts Chabrier* & Roussel* - Paray Conducts Chabrier song with very good lyrics.
At last and at least there IS something satisfying that really works. The pop rock flavor at its best cherry, for me. An excellent rock song, to rank at the sides of other excellent Strawbs rockers "Cut Like A Diamond" or "Heartbreaker". One more example of something that Cousins and consort, folk rock flavor, would have done in a so much more interesting way. Another one that works, effortlessly. Musicianship is also excellent. A number about which I really wonder. So, what is there to remember from Deep Cuts?
A peak in musicianship for whoever appreciated that brand of rock music. But to me, it's merely a collection of mostly good to excellent lyrics in a good Cousins vein, trying to reach us on music that bears little relationship with the subject at hand, if one compares to the treatment of similar lyrics on BATSfor example. Cousins had managed to assemble a band of excellent musicians for the purpose at hand: to make the charts. Unfortunately, a number of factors did not play in favor that latter goal: to me and to a number of their followers initiated to their music with the folk rock flavor, it was the feeling of disorientation.
To those who liked the pop rock flavor, may I suggest that Cousins' voice Sonata In E Major L33 - Dinu Lipatti - Piano Recital: Bach, Scarlatti, Chopin, Ravel rock numbers does not sound appropriate most of the time on Deep Cuts except perhaps on "Simple Visions"despite excellent musicianship to support him?
May I suggest that one reason why the Strawbs lost their fans with their last productions was that pop rock was not the natural medium in which Cousins' work best flourished? No matter how hard he tried, and God, did he try hard! I think that Deep Cuts is, together with Burning For You a better album than Deep Cutsin my opinion the most technically achieved album, the slickest and most polished production, with a better balanced sound So Close And Yet So Far Away - Strawbs - Deep Cuts of the overdone arrangements common to previous albums.
The main problem, and a major one, is that Strawbs was anything but a pop rock group, deep down inside. I see Deep Cuts as a well-made curiosity, as remote from Cousins' philosophy and typical style as anything else they had done thus far. Too bad. Rather meager interest, I must admit. And BFY follows, with a better string of songs.
I love this album. Yep, it's that good. The production is absolutely flawless and as perfectly in tune with the prevailing musical trends of as Bursting At The Seams - which it closely resembles in feel- was in This is important, I think. Ghosts is a classic album-out-of-time. The group was right to alter its sound. Nomadness and Deep Cuts both showed that change was possible without sacrificing the essential Strawbs sound.
Various - For Ya Mind - Volume One, The Minstrel Boy - Frank Patterson - My Dear Native Land, Hot Rod - Kitten - Diamonds, Love On A Greyhound Bus - The Dinning Sisters - Best Of The Dinning Sisters, Jewel Box (SSL Edit) - Various - Sunshine Live Volume:027