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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Strawbs

Deadlines (Remastered and Expanded Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

This new edition of a classic Strawbs album is in itself, classic and classy. First, you get the remastered album along with a lot of bonus tracks. Then there is a DVD of a BBC concert that was filmed for television (technically that is the third disc). It also includes a second CD, which is the audio of that BBC show. There's a clamshell cardboard case, deluxe booklet and poster. I'd consider this to be one of the band's best albums, as originally released. So, with all this bonus material, it lands in the "must have" zone.

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Track by Track Review
CD One
No Return

Powering in with a killer prog jam, this has a mainstream rock vibe, but also plenty of progressive rock. This has some great hooks and exceptional instrumental arrangement. This is AOR rock in a lot of ways. It's also so strong. It was a great way to start things in style. I can hear hints of Kansas and Queen in the mix here at times. Yet this is decidedly Strawbs music. The powerhouse break later in the piece is full-on progressive rock.

Joey and Me
A bit less proggy, there are even some hints of punk rock in the mix here. It's arguably more folk rock tune than anything else. Then again, that's what Strawbs are generally known for doing. This is catchy, and a change from the opener, but not as strong to my ears. There are some hints of Cat Stevens type sounds here. I dig the piano jamming later in the piece.
Sealed with a Traitor's Kiss
Folk rock and prog merge nicely on this number. It's not a big change, nor a big surprise from this act. That said, it's very effective.
I Don't Want to Talk About It
There is perhaps a bit more prog on this than on the last couple. That said, this is a mainstream rock tune. It has a good energy and some solid hooks.
The Last Resort
An energetic piece, this has a lot more progressive rock built into it. There are some quick riffed sections. Yet, it also does a great job of representing that Strawbs folk rock side, too. The bridge is particularly hard rocking and prog based.
Time and Life
Now, this masterpiece is pure progressive rock. There are moments when the musical arrangement reminds me a bit of Yes. This is harder rocking and so cool.
New Beginnings
Piano starts this thing. The cut works out from there to a pop rock, proggy tune.
Deadly Nightshade
This is a folk-prog powerhouse and one of the highlights of the set. It really manages to capture the Strawbs sound so well. It has both exceptional instrumental moments and great vocal hooks.
Words of Wisdom
Synthesizer starts this and dramatic progressive rock textures rise upward as it continues. When it works to the song proper it reminds me of the Moody Blues in some ways. Then again, they have a tendency toward the same kind of folk prog that is the zone in which much of Strawbs' music lives. This is a strong closer for the album proper.
Bonus Tracks
Midnight (Out-Take)

A harder rocking tune, this is energized and proggy. It's also a great number. It's a real powerhouse.

No Return (Acoustic Demo)
Stripped to its most basic form, this still works pretty well here. I definitely prefer the final version, but this is an interesting variant.
Sealed with a Traitor's Kiss (Acoustic Demo)
This is strictly a piano and voice demo. Again, I prefer the final version, but this is an intriguing variant.
Time and Life (Acoustic Demo)
Very folk based, this is a pretty acoustic guitar and voice arrangement.
Deadly Nightshade (Acoustic Demo)
Another acoustic guitar and voice based arrangement, I like this one a lot, really.
Words of Wisdom (Acoustic Demo)
I like how the intricate guitar shines on this demo. The vocal arrangement is a too far up in the mix, but then again, it is a demo.
The Chosen Ones (Acoustic Demo)
Another that's based on acoustic guitar and voice, this works alright in this configuration, but not great.
Sealed with a Traitor's Kiss (Band Demo)
Although I prefer the final version on the album, this demo rendition is quite strong.
No Return (Dublin Production Mix)
I like this alternate mix a lot. It almost seems stronger than the final version. Then again, the song is so good that it works well in either format.
Joey and Me (Dublin Production Mix)
There are some hints of country on the track in this mix. I prefer the one that made the album, but this is an interesting twist.
Deadly Nightshade (Dublin Production Mix)

Now, this one might be better than the mix on the final album. It has some powerhouse prog sound and hard rock in the mix.

CD Two
BBC Radio One "Sight & Sound in Concert" 18th February 1978
Lay Down

About the first 30-seconds of this are taken up by a spoken introduction. They launch out into a folk rocker that's very cool after that. They get into some seriously hard rocking territory as this carries on further down the road.

The Last Resort
Here we get a hard-edged, powerhouse rocker. This has a bit of a punk edge to it. It's a smoking hot rocker.
This prog based tune works pretty well on the choruses, but the version sections feel a bit off here. I'm not enthralled with the vocals on this live take, either. The faster paced prog jam works quite well, though. This number does have some cool changes and decidedly progressive rock based material along the road. The vocals work better in some parts than in others.
No Return
This prog rocker gets a killer live performance here. It's a smoking hot tune that works so well in this live rendition.
In a similar vein as the previous cut, this is a powerhouse prog rocker. I love the synthesizer soloing on this thing. The whole cut work so well and showcases a great contrast between more rocking and mellower sections.
Sealed with a Traitor's Kiss
Although this is (as stated in the spoken introduction to the piece) mellower than the last couple, it's no less proggy and no less potent. This is a strong number and solid performance.
Simple Visions
There are hints of punk rock and space rock in the arrangement here. This is quite a powerhouse tune with a lot of contrast between the mellower and more rocking parts. It has some great guitar soloing, but don't overlook the synthesizer work.
Cut Like a Diamond

This has more of a folk rock vibe to it, but there are some prog things at play, too. There is a raw rocking edge here, as well.

Out in the Cold
In some ways this reminds me a bit of The Band. The cut works well in a more folk rock based way. It has some hints of The Grateful Dead at times, too.
Round and Round
The synthesizer leads it out into a full-on progressive rock jam. They work out from there into some killer territory. This is a great combination of the folk rock and prog elements. There is a bit of a punky art rock thing later weird, but cool, bridge.
Hero and Heroine
This Strawbs classic gets a great live delivery here. There is some powerhouse jamming built into it. The balance between mellower and more rocking works well. This has some of that punky art rock thing at play, too in a rather crazed way. This really is a great closer for the concert.
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