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Blue Angel

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Album Review

Blue Angel was the Strawbs' first studio album of new material featuring the full band in over ten years (since 1991's Ringing Down the Years). What exactly constituted the full band named the Strawbs at this point wasn't entirely straightforward, with several different lineups, including three drummers and two bassists, playing on various tracks. The core, however, was Dave Cousins, Brian Willoughby, and Blue Weaver, and Cousins remained the driving creative force, taking lead vocals and writing or co-writing every song. The traits that established the Strawbs' style three decades prior to this release are in evidence, with ambitious songs that tell involved stories and wrestle with involved weary self-reflection, particularly on the 11-minute, three-part title track. It's also typical Strawbs in its combination of folk-rock and progressive rock melodies and arrangements. After all that, though, the material isn't too exciting, and sometimes the production (particularly some grandstanding muscular guitar solos) is too consciously modern to suit the songs. Frequent guest female backup and harmony vocals, particularly by Mary Hopkin, do add some needed texture to the singing. As a bonus track, the CD tacks on the 1980 recording "The King," with Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span contributing vocals.

Blue Angel, Stawbs
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