It's the music that counts
W. Schmidt | Beaverton, Oregon USA | 05/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The production values are barely above a home video (although the audio quality is good), but some of the performances here are very strong, better on the whole than the "Acoustic Strawbs" studio CD. Mellotron anthems like "Autumn" and "Hero and Heroine" work surprising well in these "stripped to the bone" guitar versions, and Cousins' voice is in really good form for this show, better than much of what he's released in the last few years. Other standouts are "Simple Visions", "Hangman and the Papist" and the "bonus track" (whatever that means) of "We'll Meet Again Sometime" from Cousins' "Two Weeks Last Summer" album. The real knockout, however is their rendition of Sandy Denny's classic "Who Knows Where the Time Goes", uniquely interpeted and a touching tribute.
An interesting extra is the segment "In the Beginning", where primarily Cousins takes us to important locations in the band's formative years when they were The Strawberry Hill Boys. It's fun, but it makes you wish that he'd had reminisced about the evolution into The Strawbs, with it's folk prog heydays in the '70s.
If you still have an interest in this band (and you probably do, if you're reading this) the DVD is a good addition to their studio CDs and one of their stronger releases of recent times."
If you liked the Acoustic Strawbs CD, there are more great t
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, the first topic on the agenda would be why you would check out "Acoustic Strawbs Live in Toronto" if you already have the CD "Acoustic Strawbs: Baroque & Roll." Both feature Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert and Brian Willoughby on acoustic guitar (and banjo for Cousins at one point as well as an electric guitar for Lambert on one song) so it is the same trio playing the same type of music. The answer is that there is remarkable little overlap between the two play lists. Both have "Remembering/You and I (When We Were Young" and "Ghosts," and that is it. The CD has "Tears and Pavan" and the Strawbs encore duo of "The River" and "Down by the Sea" from the old days, but I think the songs on the DVD provide a better selection overall of songs, recorded at Hugh's Room in Toronto in 2003. "Autumn/Deep Summer's Sleep/The Winter Long" stands out as does "Flying" and "Out in the Cold/Round and Round" along with "Hero and Heroine" (with Lambert on bodhran no less to really turn it into a high energy folk rock song).
In fact, the boys seem to be going out of their way to do some of their best songs form the period when John Hawken was playing awesome mellotron for the Strawbs to show that they work just fine stripped down to acoustic guitars (or there about). I even like "The Hangman and the Papist" without the driving drums. I have maintained for some time that the Strawbs were at their best when Hawken played with them and that when he left the group took a noticeable nose dive, but listening to these songs played just on acoustic guitar does give me pause (I will not change my basic position, but it is hard to argue with the effectiveness of these performances: try remembering that "Hero & Heroine" is a big time keyboard piece once you hear this version). There is also a poignant tribute to the memory of Sandy Denny when Cousins sings "Who Knows Where the Time Goes."
The DVD begins with Cousins taking a trip down memory lane in West London to show where he grew up, how the band got its original name of the Strawberry Hill Boys, and some of the places they played. During the concert part of the DVD there are some exterior shots and on "You and I (When We Were Young)" we flash back to Cousins and Lambert on stage a quarter-decade back; they still sound the same and Lambert still has the frosted lock of hair, although Cousins is now shaved and gray. The Acoustic Strawbs are pretty impressive, and now the final item on the agenda is when will they release a second album, live or in the studio again, that puts more of what is on this DVD on a CD album, because clearly playing the old songs this way is not simply a change of pace for a one time appearance on MTV, but a new stage in the evolution of the group."