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Dancing to the Devil's Beat

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Album Review

Few bands from the classic rock era that had some commercial success, yet never attained true stardom, have maintained such a steady release schedule in the 21st century as the Strawbs have. About 40 years on from the release of their debut, Dancing to the Devil's Beat finds them still at it, with a lineup in which all but one of the members served with the group back in its heyday. It would be quite unusual for a band with such a long career to be making major stylistic departures at this point, and the record has the kind of bittersweet, somber, narrative songs for which the Strawbs are known, as well as their characteristic mixture of folk and progressive rock. Both wistful regret and muted anger at the vagaries of war and conflict are voiced in the lyrics. The musical settings within the Strawbs format do vary over the course of the disc, taking in delicate acoustic folky arrangements and a bit of lightly swinging jazz (on "The Ballad of Jay and Rose Mary") in addition to the more rock-oriented tracks. Finishing the CD is a new version of "Oh How She Changed," which they first released on their first album 40 years prior to this disc.

Dancing to the Devil's Beat, Strawbs
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