Aclaración...

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Y no te confundas, no nos interesa la piratería, lo nuestro es simplemente desobediencia civil y resistencia cultural a favor del libre acceso al conocimiento (nuestra música es, entre otras tantas cosas, conocimiento).

jueves, 23 de junio de 2016

Strawbs - Hero And Heroine (1974)


El Mago Alberto nos manda un viejo nuevo conocido, y sumamos más Prog Folk en el blog cabezón, desde mi puinto de vista uno de los subgéneros más disfrutables del progresivo, y quizás éste sea uno de los mejores discos de Prog Folk aunque esté alejado del folk que habia marcado los inicios del grupo y es un disco mas progresivo y simfonico. Les pido que lean los comentarios en inglés que anexo al review de Alberto, van a ver que hay gente que considera a éste disco como uno de los mejores en la historia de la Música (en mayúscula). Directamente imperdible!!! Discazo alucinante en una una orgía mellotrones...

Artista: Strawbs
Álbum: Hero And Heroine
Año: 1974
Género: Prog Folk
Duración: 44:14
Nacionalidad: Inglaterra


Lista de Temas:
1. Autumn: Heroine's Theme, Deep Summer's Sleep, The Winter Long
2. Sad Young Man
3. Just Love
4. Shine On Silver Sun
5. Hero And Heroine
6. Midnight Sun
7. Out In The Cold
8. Round And Round
9. Lay A Little Light On Me
10. Hero's Theme
11. Still Small Voice (Previously unreleased - Bonus track)
12. Lay A Little Light On Me (Early version - Bonus track)

Alineación:
- Dave Cousins / lead & backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, co-producer
- Dave Lambert / lead & backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars
- John Hawken / piano, electric piano, organ, Mellotron, synthesizer
- Chas Cronk / bass, synthesizer, backing vocals
- Rod Coombes / drums, percussion, backing vocals
With:
Clare Deniz / cello (6)



Este disco no será una sorpresa porque es casi un clásico, pero si es un lujo que engalana la Biblioteca Sonora cabezona. Aunque sonsiderando que muchos aún no los conocen por éstas pampas, seguramente varios caerán de culo al empezar a escuchar esta joyita deliciosa, un disco que fluye de principio a fin sin ningun corte malo que socabe la unidad del disco.


Strawbs (o The Strawbs) es un grupo británico de rock, fundado en 1964 por el guitarrista y cantante Dave Cousins, principal compositor y líder del grupo. Aunque la banda comenzó su andadura como un grupo de bluegrass, Strawberry Hill Boys, pronto ampliaron su paleta, explorando otros estilos, como el folk rock, el glam rock y el rock progresivo. (...) En 1967 el grupo abrevió su nombre a Strawbs y grabó su primer disco, con composiciones folk-rock de Cousins y la voz de Sandy Denny, más tarde vocalista de Fairport Convention. A principios de los 70, la banda contó con la colaboración del teclista Rick Wakeman, famoso más tarde por su trabajo con Yes, grabando en directo A Collection of Antiques and Curios (1970) y elaborando el disco conceptual From the Witchwood (1971). Tienen un tono claramente progresivo los discos siguientes, Grave New World (1972), Bursting At The Seams (1973) and Hero And Heroine (1974). A finales de los 70 su estilo evolucionó hacia un rock más convencional, para volver más tarde a un sonido folk-rock, que siguieron explorando en sus discos posteriores.
Wikipedia

Los seguidores de grupos como Caravan, Fairport Convention o Jethro Tull recibirán con los brazos (mejor dicho, con los oídos) abiertos a éste grupo. Pero no me adelanto tanto y les dejo el comentario del Mago Alberto que es quien nos engalanda con esta obra de arte sonora.

Quien se precie de escuchar y conocer el genero progresivo, sin lugar a dudas conoce y recontra conoce este disco, seguramente muchos habrán tenido el vinilo y lo habrá dejado echo pomada, en alguna colección que seguramente olvidó en alguna mudanza, así que mucho no hay para reseñar, solo diremos como referencia que esta banda supo de los dedos de Rick Wakeman en sus comienzos y que el grupo fue un icono en la época dorada del progresivo y este trabajo fue y será su obra más festejada.
Esta versión es la remasterizada del año 1998 con bonus tracks y se escucha muchísimo mejor que la original, existe también una versión nueva del año 2011, no remasterizada, sino una grabación nueva del disco pero con un Cousins con una voz tan avejentada que le quita toda expectativa a la nueva iniciativa.
Los Strawbs tienen muchísimos buenos discos, en especial los acústicos, pero esta obra quedará impresa en la historia como la mas novedosa e inspirada del grupo.
Para los muchachos que recién se prenden al estribo del tren, éste es un proyecto muy interesante para conocer. Para los viejitos piolas seguramente una buena puteada saldrá cuando renueven sus oídos con estos conocidos sonidos setentosos. Se te pianta un lagrimon, ¡no??
Mago Alberto




imagino que muchos conocerán al éste grupo y a éste disco a través de ésta entrada, es por ello que dedico el post a todos los gurrumines que hacen sus primeras escaladas por el grn Monte Everest que es el rock progresivo de todos los tiempos. Vamos ahora con algunos de los comentarios en inglés, y me llamó mucho la atención no haber encontrado comentarios en castellano, y quizás yo esté en lo correcto cuando digo que éste disco no es conocido por éstas pampas, peo lo ampliaría y diría que no es conocido fuera de los principales países de habla inglesa. Está muy bueno, entonces, que lo conozcan y disfruten.
Aquí los comentarios en inglés...


The group's ballsiest album to date, a surging, hard-rocking follow-up to Bursting at the Seams, which debuted a new lineup, Richard Hudson, John Ford, and Blue Weaver having left to form their own group. In their places, ex-Nashville Teens keyboardman John Hawken and the more muscular rhythm section of Rod Coombes and Chas Cronk make their debut, on what is the Strawbs' first fully electric album. Dave Cousins' songwriting (augmented by Dave Lambert, who also contributes some slashing electric lead guitar) is still as romantic as ever in various spots ("Shine On Silver Sun," "Deep Summer's Sleep"), but also boasts dark visions ("Round and Round") which, coupled with new band's muscular playing, made the Strawbs one of the hardest-rocking progressive bands in the world. They should have been able to blow acts like the Moody Blues off the stage, so what went wrong with this album and the tour? One suspects it was a little too serious and complex for kids who were just looking for a soundtrack to their drug experiences, and it rocked too hard for the "sensitive" English-major types who got off on Cousins' lyrics -- in a sense, the Strawbs were squeezed out of the middle in a very small-scale, subtle 1970s version of the old folk-versus-rock battles of the '60s. Hero and Heroine deserved better, being one of the best guitar-driven progressive rock albums of its period.
Bruce Eder

Although the STRAWBS may be better represented in the AOR category, I still love and want to make note of this album. H&H blends soft caressing vocals with some real gorgeous songs, surrounded by a solid band. The STRAWBS bring elements from folk to progressive into "Hero and Heroine" giving this album a complete feel to it. "Autumn" is their epic track and remains one of my all time favorites.
James Unger

When I listened this album by the first time, the first chords made me think I had discovered an essential masterpiece. The first track "Autumn", a fantastic mini-suite, deserves a place among the greatest symphonic prog gems, but the rest decays a little bit. There are beautiful moments beyond the mentioned track, i.e. the homonymous theme, but we can find some poppy cuts and the typical STRAWBS' AOR feeling, blending folk and rock elements. Nevertheless, IMHO, it's the best point to start with the STRAWBS discography and their closest approach to symphonic sounds.
Marcelo Matusevich

Heroic.
"Hero and Heroine" may be the Strawbs best album, but there again, I probably said that about "From the witchwood", "Ghosts", "Bursting at the seams", and "Grave new world".
What I like about "Hero and Heroine" is that it is a complete album, which flows perfectly from start to finish. The opening "Autumn" is wonderful, a three part piece which captures the mood of that season in a succession of melodious atmospheres, before climaxing in chorus I defy anyone to avoid singing along to.
"Shine on silver sun" was a minor hit single, but unlike the single "Part of the union" from "Bursting at the seams" stand proud as a classic Strawbs track. It is drenched in mellotron, with an uplifting, almost hymnal, chorus and a strong melody.
The title track is a lightning paced concoction of almost a cappella verses and a variety of instrumental "choruses". Cousins delivers one of his technically most accomplished vocal performances here, as he articulates the lyrics at great pace. The song is yet another venture by the band into uncharted territories, but it works superbly.
The two part final track, "Lay a little light on me/Hero's theme" has echoes of "Down by the sea" from the previous album, particularly in the chiming guitar, before ending with a backward recording of "Shine on silver sun".
Elsewhere, we have the powerful "Round and Round" with its disturbing lyrics; "I drew the blade across my wrist to see how it would feel", and the melodious "Out in the cold" complete with Cousins requisite adult lyrics.
There really is not a weak track here, the songs are generally straight forward and accessible, but with an underlying depth which belies their apparent simplicity. If you enjoy the music of the Strawbs and have not heard this one, you're in for a treat.
Bob McBeath

Excellent follow up to Bursting at the Seams, what a great time to enjoy The Strawbs too. Hero and Heroine another great concept album. OK it is fragmented in parts with one off gems which negate what a concept album is truly about but the important thing is it still has that feel about it. ' Autumn' is an eight minute classic with thumping bass and slowly builds to Cousins singing in his prime with all the emotion he can muster.The Cousins/Lambert/Coombes/Hawken ( of Renaissance fame) and Chas Cronk is probably the strongest line up they had although some argue that Wakeman's brief time with the bad plus Hudson/Hooper and Ford were equally as important.' Shine on Silver Sun' and ' ' Midnight Sun' are two more excellent songs as is the frenetically psychotic ' Hero and Heroine'.' Round and Round' and ' Out in the Cold' are also great really challenging your emotions as is Cousin's strength of lyrics. All this beautifully blended with the finest crop of musicians.
Chris S.

"Hero & Heroine" showed Strawbs stepping away from their folk influences and moving further into the Progressive Rock terretory. This, of course, made the rythm-section on their previous albums Hudson-Ford leave the band because they weren't quite satisfyed with the direction the band was about to take. They were greatly replaces though, by Chas Cronk and Rod Coombes. "Autumn" is the best track here and it's a wonderful opener and a truly classic and beautiful Prog-Rock epic. It is nicely followed by "Sad Young Man", another song that I appreciate very much. The rest is mostly very good too, despite a few weak moments inbetween. Pure folk-rockers might be a tad disappointed with this one, but otherwise, I would say that this album is welcome to any comprehensive Progressive Rock collection.
4/5 stars.
Björnar Lunde

Even though we are constantly (and rightly so) forewarned to award 5 stars ratings only to the truly deserving "generals" and not to every half decent prog recording, there are some undeniable exceptions when dealing with Prog, as it's the most personal of all musical genres due to the huge variety of various influences within the grooves.There are albums that are so deeply seared into each progfan's psyche and musical soul (for whatever personal reason) that even 31 years later , the circumstances around the purchase remain vivid to this day! I ,for one, can still recall the when & where of buying Dark Side , Selling England, Hamburger Concerto, El Dorado, Phaedra, Fish Rising etc... Such is the case with the seminal "Hero & Heroine" , my all time #2 behind the obvious "In the Court of The Crimson King". In the glorious vintage Prog year of 1974, this piece of vinyl struck a very deep personal chord (I was in love for the first time and paying the price for it!), soothing the bewilderment and addressing the melancholia of the times thanks to the opening bars of "Autumn" : swirling and uplifting mellotron washes, marshalled by that steady and simple beat, leading to the 9 minute suite of grandiose proportions. The following flowing songs are sad (Sad Young Man), solemn (Midnight Sun, Lay A little Light) ,bitter (Out in the Cold), angry (Round & Round, Hero & Heroine) & hopeful (Its just Love, Shine On Silver Sun). David Cousins' voice, not always the easiest to digest, is plain perfect here, never better before or after. Dave Lambert's crisp guitar playing also elevated his reputation at the time, plus a rock solid rythm section and of course John Hawken's keyboards all weave together to make this an undisputed classic. The production by Tom Allom -more reputed for his work with heavy rock artists- also deserves some serious applause as the entire disc is a glowing affair, combining delicacy and power, heavily orchestrated with the glorious mellotron leading the charge. What can be said of the cover art , a misty classic bathed in a shimmering white haze and evoking a unique dreaminess that is the exact artistic interpretation of the music inside. I often return to this "friend", especially when in need of comfort and nostalgia. Which is why I have asked to have it in my casket (along with a few other albums) , so that I can truly Rest In Peace, whenever that day arrives! No collection is complete without this masterpiece.
5/5 Midnight Suns
Thomas Szirmay

Strawbs' most popular album from the pop scene, Hero and Heroine does not disappoint after the great bursting at the seams. Starting with the three movements song ''opus'', the band uses its usual folky approach to music while creating a more spacy feel than before. However, it is the only song on the album with that feel. It is a mini-suit in the great tradition of 70's prog. As the rest of the album, it is a love or hate situation. It is probably the most electric album made up to that point, wich is probably why it is their most acclaimed by the public. The usual cousins' style of writing is still present, and a new, stronger rythm section, helps the band build this new kind of folk. It definitely has its flaws, but this is still a really sound effort by cousins ans co.
Philippe Rodriguez

Hero And Heroine is a marvellous album from strawbs with a more intense played mellotron than the previous. Hero And Heroine, some drugs' obvious connotations apart, is the epic of tragic lovers. I think that Autumn (8.27 mns) and the title track are excellent reasons for a five star rating! The last in particular because of the "grandeur" of its start and the explosive/symphonic arrangements. Other high contributions from Strawbs are the beautiful ballad Shine On Silver Sun, the catchy Round And Round and Lay A Little Light On Me. I can't believe that this band doesn't have the adequate consideration in progarchives. Now it's up to me to express my great appreciation.
Andrea Cortese

After the enormous commercial success of Bursting at the Seams, the musical differences in the band between Cousins and Hudson and Ford became irreconcilable, resulting in fragmentation. Blue Weaver left to become a Bee Gee and Hudson and Ford formed their own, more commercial outfit. Lambert and Cousins recruited a new rhythm section in ex Stealers Wheel drummer Rod Coombes and respected session bassist Chas Cronk, completing the line up with ex Renaissance keyboard wizard John Hawken. At first, Cousins had difficulty getting him to play other keyboards than piano, but eventually he warmed to the mellotron, Hammond and moog. And thank God he did, because this album is characterised by some wonderful, mellotron drenched songs and glorious synth. It's a sad album, with a theme of love and abandonment. It also marks the final abandonment of their folk influences and emergence as a full blown prog band.
Autumn, a three part track, kicks off the album with the instrumental Heroine's Theme, a slow, synth/ bass/drum intro, followed by swathes of sweeping mellotron behind a guitar line. It softens into Deep Summers Sleep, with a Cousins lyric lamenting the end of summer, then changes abruptly to a Lambert-fronted epic with a glorious chorus, melodic guitar solo and the curtain of mellotron. Delicious.
The rest of side one is good but not special: Sad Young Man is a pleasant Cousins ballad, Just Love is a fairly raucous, typically rocky Lambert effort and Shine on Silver Sun was a minor hit single.
Side two is simply magnificent and reflects Cousins' depressed state of mind at the time. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES LISTEN TO IT IF YOU ARE DEPRESSED.
Hero and Heroine features Cousins at his most dramatic, with crashing mellotron and epic guitar over a lyric about desertion. It flows into Midnight Sun, a gentle, beautiful song about hopelessness. Out in the Cold is an erotic song about passionate love and loss. Round and Round, with its insistent synthesiser riff, is about suicide and features Cousans and Lambert on top form. Lay a Little Light on Me is about seeking a way out of depression and lamenting the failure of religion to provide answers. Hero's theme concludes the album with a repetitive, rousing, motif and chorus.
The musicianship is consistently good, the rhythm section blending effortlessly into the background yet underpinning the songs perfectly whilst the three lead instrumentalists work their magic. I bought this album on its release date in 1974 and love it as much as I ever did. Side 1 deserves 4* but side 2 easily lifts it up to the rank of masterpiece.
Tony Fisher

The numerous line up changes (and musical directions) have placed ai strain on the Strawbs audience and critics. The group no longer was a folk trio. And after the complete break up of the last line up a lot of people seemed to be losing their patientice with Dave Cousins. After all, Burstin´At The Seams was their most successful record up till then, and yet it did not prevent an almost total disband. Only David Lambert was retained. But in the end it was a good move, since the new personel was Strawbs best.
And what about the album? Hero And Heroine is a transitional work, Cousins is not at his best, which does not mean the songs are not good. They are good. Sometimes very good, like the opening suite, Autumn. This is great prog music and unfortunatly does not repeat on the rest of the LP. On the other hand, no song here is really weak or bad. It is a CD you can hear without any problems and the arrangements are always very well done.
Strawbs would do their best ever work in the following year, with Ghosts, but Hero And Heoine gives hints they were going in the right direction. The title track and Autumn suite are certainly classic songs. Recommended.
Tarcisio Moura

It's a long way from the folk approach of the earlier Strawbs, but this is absolutely great prog rock album. First, I think that the departure of the song-writing rhythm section Hudson and Ford to follow their own unique path did good, because I've alwayd preferred Dave Cousins' style - and this is HIS band after all. One of the new members is ex-Renaissance (1969) man John Hawken on keyboards, and his work is just excellent here. The band rocks a bit tighter than before but it's charming, bright and warm too.
The only song I don't like is 'Just Love'. Neither is 'Round And Round' among my favourites even if it's regarded by many as a prog highlight with its daring synth work. But the rest is very enjoyable all the way. Four of these tracks I first heard on Strawbs compilations and they're still my favourites: 'Autumn' is a gorgeous two-part song with washes of Mellotron, and the atmosphere of shivering autumn and cosy winter reaches your bones. 'Hero & Heroine' is a sharp prog rocker. Generally I'm not much into heavy rock playing but this kind of power in a song is fantastic. 'Shine On Silver Sun' and 'Out In The Cold' are mostly in the ballad category with strong choruses, that are very emotional without being sentimental. The nice little song 'Lay A Little Light On Me' (its faster version is served as a bonus) is tied up with an instrumental 'Hero's Theme' to end the album in a prog manner. I love this brilliantly crafted album for 5/5 stars!
Matti P.

Hero and Heroine was the first song I heard by Strawbs, while exploring some prog folk samples a while back. After a succession of albums by the band, and a long search for the spirit and grandeur of that song, it is ironically (or perhaps naturally) on the song's own album I finally find it.
With Hero and Heroine it feels like Strawbs finally has matured enough to offer a through-and-through enjoyable release. With a new line-up at hand, Dave Cousins and friends take a big step into symphonic territory, leaving behind the folkier and poppier influences of the past. It still doesn't mean that what we've got here is some kind of avant-prog. Far from it. It's a brand of accessible and deeply emotional music, rich and warm for most of the part. The music relies a lot on atmosphere, often created by a heavy use of Mellotron and other keys but also on very strong melodies. In many of the songs you find a catchy refrain, easy to sing along to. In fact, Strawbs biggest strength lies in this inherent skill of creating both interesting and catchy music while never going to extremes with one of the two, thus blending two of my favourite genres - 70s 'classic' rock and progressive rock.
Disappointing as it might be for the folk lover, Hero and Heroine doesn't offer much music in that direction. The few remnants of it are most easily detected in outbursts of acoustic guitar, like those found on the title track. This is mostly a symphonic effort, thick with bombast. The previously mentioned Mellotron is used powerfully here, together with forceful guitar and bass. Wall-of-sound is a great expression and it sure fits here. The use of short solo runs from a warm e-guitar and acoustic textures provide the defining Strawbs character to the music, Lovely indeed. Dave Cousins behind the microphone is peaking here, amazing performance altogether, emotional, soothing and technically a lot better than on the previous releases.
Just as with Ghosts, two songs stand out from the rest. Autumn and the title track are among the best Strawbs have ever done. The first songs begins with a dark, synthesised bass theme set to an eerie, ambient landscape with screeching, echoing e-guitar coming in and out in the soundscape. All of a sudden an orgasmic Mellotron appears out of nowhere, sweeping the listener away to a mellow interlude of acoustic and electric guitar interplay. This theme continues over the melancholic vocals until that beloved Mellotron returns to take the song in to its 'refrain', which only builds up in power until the choir-laid end. Epic proportions. Hero and Heroine (the song) isn't very varied. Basically, it's built on two alternating segments, but what segments they are! Never have I been so totally blown away as by the bombast of the Mellotron used for this song. Drums, guitar, bass and keys work together in forming something so big that it quite possibly beats the bombast of ELP. Naturally in a good way. The nervous, unique verse (structure of vocals!) features folkish, fast guitar that underlines the frenzy of the song and its lyrics. Another treat.
There are some flaws on the record, no doubt (especially Just Love), but nothing really annoying, especially if you've got a taste for the more mainstream rock of the 70's. The only general problem I have, and that concerns all of Strawbs' output, is that I sometimes lack some instrumental excitement. Yes, it can get too pleasant.
But without hesitation: 4/5 stars
Linus W.

Strawbs' finest hour
This beautiful album is a perfect blend of Prog Folk and Symphonic Prog. The whole album works as a suite as the songs more or less flow into each other which makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts. The melodies are gorgeous and the lead vocals and lyrics of Dave Cousins are deeply moving and often haunting.
The music of Hero And Heroine is romantic, emotional and reflective but at the same time also rocking. It very successfully combines the different sides of the band: the folky side, the hard rocking side and the progressive, symphonic side. The combination of acoustic instruments like acoustic guitars, piano, harmonica (uncredited), flute (uncredited and very discrete) drums and percussion, as well as lovely harmony vocals, on the one hand, and electric guitars, various keyboards and bass guitar, on the other hand, is very effective. The keyboards are played by John Hawken and include electric piano, organ, mellotron and synthesisers. All this creates a very full and powerful yet beautiful sound without ever sounding bombastic. It feels very genuine.
In my view this is the ultimate line-up of the band with Cousins on vocals and guitars, Dave Lambert on guitars, Hawken on keyboards, Chas Cronk on bass and Rod Coombes on drums. And Hero And Heroine is their finest hour.
It is difficult to compete with Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick, but Hero And Heroine is one of the best albums in the Prog Folk genre and a masterpiece of progressive Folk rock.
One of my favourite albums!
Fritz-Anton

This album is another good mix between symphonic rock and some folk atmospheres (but not too many).
When you listen to Autumn, only one thing can come to your mind: the great ITCOTCK. Same mellotron lines, a superb melody. It is a really emotional song which sounds so beautiful (even if the closing section features weak vocals). It is one of my favourite of the band. It is a masterpiece and a bloody good opener. Give me more like this one!
It is true to say that their folk period is well over by now, but I tend to prefer their symphonic period. And I can only be pleased with Sad Young Man which offers another very pleasant keys moment as well as fine vocals arrangements.
I have to admit though that when the band is trying to rock, I am not too much charmed (Just Love). It seems that they are somewhat forcing too much, and it doesn't seem to be a natural move for them. The best part of this song is again the short and melodic break which takes place in the middle.
It is not untrue to compare some songs from this album with some Moody Blues ones. Shine On Silver Sun is probably the one that is closely related with the Moodies. Maybe somewhat too childish.
Fortunately, the title track follows. It is an enjoyable and upbeat song which holds bombastic elements (mellotron) as well as a very optimistic tone. It is another very good song actually.
Strawbs get back more towards their folk sound of their early days during the acoustic Midnight Sun but the addition of keys is a positive point as far as I'm concerned. But to be complete, I must admit that I have never been over-enthusiastic about true acoustic folk music like Out In The Cold.
The band is also combining pop elements with some symphonic ones during Round & Round. It is maybe not all that extraordinary but at the same time is confirms their new orientation. Same applies for the two closing tracks which are a nice way to end this album. Hero's Theme holds again a powerful theme and bombastic passages. It is another very good song from this album.
I wouldn't say that this album is a masterpiece; it doesn't hold enough great songs for this. I would say seven out of ten and I will upgrade it to four stars thanks to Autumn.
Daniel

Many parallels exist between "Grave New World" and "Hero and Heroine" in both circumstances and conceptual unity. Both were recorded during a major change in group personnel, with "Hero" being even more dramatic. Gone are Blue Weaver, Richard Hudson and John Ford, replaced by John Hawken, Rod Coombes and Chas Cronk respectively. Both sport an irrepressible flow from one track to the next, which is ultimately seamless even if it does not appear that way on first listen. Both find the group effecting a major alteration in style and substance, although one could argue this was the case for every album from 1971-1976.
What is different with "Hero and Heroine" is the submersion of overt folk tendencies some meters below the typically colourful surface and the greater emphasis on hard rock in the progressive mix. It's still undeniably Strawbs in sensitivity and sense of beauty, but in a package that simply pummels the contemporary competition in intensity and harnessed power. Even if UK fans, expecting more accessible prog and high quality if straightforward rock like on "Bursting at the Seams", were bummed out by the drastic metamorphosis, North American, and particularly Canadian (and even more strikingly, French Canadian) audiences became converts in pretty large numbers for a cultish prog group. In fact, this went gold in Canada.
The album opens with one of the group's defining tracks, the three part "Autumn" suite. Beginning with reflective synths by Hawken and lonely seagull calls, actually approximated on electric guitar, the instrumental first part plunges into a mellotron fest not seen since "Epitaph". The second part is Cousins at his most lyrical, waxing at turns both awed and depressed by the change of seasons, to a gentle tron backing and punctuated by fine interplay between acoustic and lead guitar. The third part is Strawbs at their most melodic and romantic, a simple timeless folk melody starting on piano, joined by Lambert on vocals (with plenty of backing), that builds to its final mellotron choir crescendo. Given its time period, this is what the doctor ordered for those suffering from Moody Blues withdrawal, although Strawbs retained the advantage of the authenticity of their folky DNA.
Rod Coombes entry, "Sad Young Man", is a wholly successful welcome to the group, with its echoey vocals, crisp organ, and icy simple lead guitars. Here, as on the heavenly "Shine on Silver Sun", like an update on "Benedictus", the darkness of the Copenhagen November, where the album was recorded, must have been having an effect on the mood. In between, "Just Love" provides the simple rocking levity that is required, albeit with a mellotron suffused middle break that provides continuity.
The use of echo on almost every vocal track after "Autumn" is striking in this album, no more so than on the title cut's second verse. This track is a whirlwind epic in 3:20, featuring jig like verses, mellotron horns, and breathless vocal rants. It also began Side 2 of the original vinyl, which can lay claim to being the most powerful side in group history. The theme is generally regarded to be an indictment of hard drug use, but I also see an allegory to sex role stereotypes.
While the beautiful mellotron-flute laden "Midnight Sun" and the gentle if graphic "Out in the Cold" draw from the folk well, "Round and Round" and "lay a Little Light on Me" are both flat-out progressive rock with plenty of synthesizers, heavy guitars, and alternating quiet and bombastic sections. Cousins' angst reaches new heights even by his own standards, in parallel with an apparent crisis of faith. The fade out is the old trick of playing a chorus backwards, in this case that of "Shine on Silver Sun".
Of the two bonus tracks, "Still Small Voice" is more valuable. It is a piece that was apparently never completed, evidenced by the presence of only one verse, but the classical guitar, Cousins' Gothic voice (think "Tears" from "Bursting"), and a memorable tune all conspire to make this an essential listen. The other bonus is an early demo version of "Lay a Little Light on me" which lacks the subtle buildups of the original, being pretty much a pure rock track.
"Hero and Heroine" is as far away from Strawbs' first few releases as it is from any of the output by their British folk rock contemporaries FAIRPORT CONVENTION, PENTANGLE and STEELEYE SPAN, occupying a realm much closer to MOODY BLUES. BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, GENESIS, and KING CRIMSON, but in a style all their own. The bold steps taken to go from A to Z in a mere half decade show a willingness to explore that makes the so-called progress of the above bands (CRIMSON excepted) seem a trifle timid by comparison. For that Strawbs have attracted some criticism from both purist proggers and bearded folkies, which explains both their lack of total acceptance by both but also their ability to highlight festivals in both genres. No other album in their oeuvre is more likely to receive a hero's welcome among PA's prog elite.
Keneth Levine

Hero And Heroine has been another one of those pleasant surprises that the Prog Folk genre had to offer me so far, even though it's debatable whether this particular release actually follows the sub-genre's blueprint all that much.
From the first moments of the opening multi-part mini-epic we are transported to those magnificent realms of Symphonic Prog that dominated that music scene of the time. The luscious sounds of Mellotron enter the room and make me almost believe that Rick Wakeman had returned to the band for another go, which was unfortunately not so. The first melodic section of the composition does bear an uncanny resemblance to King Crimson's masterpiece Epitaph, but once Dave Cousins vocals come in they quickly remove all traces of that comparison, turning this into a minor masterpiece of its own!
Just like on all the classic the Strawbs albums, Dave Cousins dominates the scenery with his very beautiful vocal delivery, which I originally wanted to compare to that of Procol Harum's Gary Brooker's for its sheer originality, but I honestly can't help hearing that certain Peter Gabrielesque vibe in his voice here. Even though we don't get any more longer pieces throughout the rest the album the material still manages, for most part, to keep an excellent flow all the way to the end. The only notable exception to the rule comes with Dave Lambert's simple rocker called Just Love. This song brings nothing new or interesting to the band's already well established sound and only makes me wonder it actually made the cut.
It definitely shows that Cousins was on top of his craft since even the shorter, simpler tunes like Shine On Silver Sun and Out In The Cold sound almost as interesting as the more complex pieces. Speaking of complexity, the albums title track is another highly enjoyable progressive rock tune, featuring acoustic verse sections that only brings a slight reminder of the Strawbs Prog Folk roots.
Lay A Little Light On Me is where I honestly start to believe that Peter Gabriel was in the studio and recorded the lead vocals on the track. Of course, once the post-verse instrumental section kicks in it becomes clear that the Strawbs were in a slightly more sinister mood when composing this song. The transition into the album's final song, Hero's Theme, is just beautiful and brings a complete feeling of joy to my overall experience of this record.
Hero And Heroine was my first and most accomplished experience of this band's music featuring everything I would want of an excellent Symphonic Rock album with only a slight touch of Prog Folk added to it. Simply put, an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection!
Alexander Peterson

This is probably my second favourite STRAWBS album after "Grave New World", but to be honest nothing i've heard from this band can quite compare to that one.The picture of the band in the edition I have is startling and not in a good way. Yikes ! I have an older A & M Records cd.
"Autumn" is definitely a top three track with the wondrous mellotron and I love the bass / drum intro too. From 5 minutes on it's not that great but this song has it's moments for sure. "Sad Young Man" is a top three as well for me. It's mellow with fragile vocals to start. It turns fuller rather quickly as contrasts continue. I like the guitar here. Nice organ later. Cool song. "Just Love" is uptempo with vocals. It settles before 2 minutes with piano and mellotron then kicks back in. "Shine On" is a ballad.
"Hero And Heroine" is a fan favourite. A Country flavour to this one though that i'm not fond of. The organ and mellotrn sections are good. "Midnight Sun" features strummed guitar with percussion and reserved vocals. "Out In The Cold" has some good intricate guitar to start. Harmonica and drums join in. Vocals a minute in. "Round And Round" is the other top three for me. I like how this builds and sounds. Vocals before 1 1/2 minutes. Spoken words before 3 1/2 minutes. "Lay A Little Light On Me" is ballad-like early. I like the expressive vocals that follow. "Hero's Theme" has a BEATLES vibe to it.
I get the feeling with this release that they tried to do something different, more of a Progressive Rock thing. And because of that (I suppose) I keep hearing things that remind me of other bands. That kind of bugs me but in reality this is a very good album. 3.5/5 stars.
John Davie

'Hero and Heroine' as well as 'Ghosts' are a pretty remarkable pair of studio albums released by the Strawbs in the mid-seventies. Both are well-written and arranged, musically progressive and reflective of the advanced level of the band's technical skill and professionalism. What makes them remarkable really is that they were ever even made.
Dave Cousins became the sole remaining original member even before 'Hero and Heroine' when Tony Hooper left in 1972 over 'artistic differences' with the more commercial (and therefore less folksy) direction Cousins and the former Velvet Opera rhythm section duo of Richard Hudson and John Ford were taking the band. Following a successful though stress-filled year long tour supporting 'Bursting at the Seams' Cousins once again found himself at odds with his band mates and the result was basically dissolution of the band, although in later years Cousins has characterized this period rather more charitably. Given the band's popularity and brand-name value though Cousins and Dave Lambert decided to carry on and form a new Strawbs lineup. Hudson and Ford found success right away as the creatively titled Hudson Ford, while Blue Weaver found a home with Mott the Hoople, another band that has just gone through a bitter breakup at the pinnacle of their career. Weaver would cash in on Mott's worldwide tour supporting 'All the Young Dudes' and even more so later as keyboardist for the Bee Gees during their late seventies disco run.
The lineup in the studio for 'Hero and Heroine' included two keyboardists, former Renaissance member John Hawken, and Chas Cronk who would remain with Cousins thereafter. Former Juicy Lucy drummer Rod Coombes replaced Richard Hudson on the heels of Coombes' own breakup story as a member of Stealers Wheel. Despite being rather thrown together the group sounds like a true band, at least based on this studio work. Everyone contributed to the content including songwriting chores, even Hawken with his penning of the somber opening instrumental "Heroine's Theme", a rather Alan Parsons Project-sounding bit of music. Cousins of course wrote most of the lyrics and much of the music but the loss of Hudson and Ford's writing skills seems to have not impaired the band much.
Musically this may be the best Strawbs album ever, and it is certainly among their most popular especially in the U.S. where it was released even before A&M launched it in the UK. Though the overall vibe is unmistakably British and still showing remnants of the band's folk-rock heritage, a group as cerebral and measured as the Strawbs didn't really stand much of a chance of making a huge splash in the U.S. mainstream market although the album did manage to break just inside of the Billboard Top-100. Songs like "Autumn" and "Midnight Sun" show the band was still capable of progressive arrangements, but given their tour billings and vaguely glam persona at the time made it tough for American audiences to connect.
Not to say the band didn't try, and the more rocking "Sad Young Man", "Just Love" and schizophrenic "Round and Round" surely held their own on FM radio long play sessions throughout the Midwest alongside more conventional rock groups.
The single "Shine on Silver Sun" would be the last hit for the band, and its easygoing blend of keyboards, choral vocals and measured tempo proved to be appeal to audiences back home while still being accessible enough to attract some singles play in U.S. markets.
Personally I much prefer 'Ghosts' to 'Hero and Heroine' but must admit Cousins and Dave Lambert did a masterful job of crafting a very solid band out of the ashes left in the wake of 'Bursting at the Seams'. While I'm going to give this album a four-star rating, I'll do so with the note that 'Bursting' and 'Ghosts' more easily achieved that rating. An excellent album nonetheless and recommended for all Strawbs fans.
Bob Moore

Despite occasional pastoral lyrics and instrumental passages, Hero and Heroine by and large sees the Strawbs moving away from the acoustic prog folk of earlier albums into lush symphonic prog drowning in Mellotron. The new direction was in part a consequence of new members joining the band, and is particularly on display on the opening three-part epic "Autumn", which contrasts dreamy summer idylls with cold winter yearning. Another particularly good pick is the title track, which offers some characteristically direct and cutting lyrics from Dave Cousins (backing away from the more oblique lyrics of Bursting at the Seams) with an energetic musical backing. On the whole, the album is as cohesive and as compelling as the excellent Grave New World, netting the Strawbs the second peak of their career. 5/5
W. Arthur

Strawbs of the peek of their career for sure. Hero and heroine fis considered a classic Strawbs album and among ht ebest they ever done if not quite the best Strawbs album ever. I'm agree with that and together with Ghost are the most high quality albums from their catalogue. Some changes in line up and in the end only Cousins remaing still on baricades. John Hawken an ex Renaissance musicians who really done a good job here mainly because the band now are with one foot in prog folk zone and with other in symohonic prog the result is quite enjoyble and well composed. Now to my ears Strawbs sounds like if I'm combining some passages from early Genesis with Barclay James Harvest moments. With this album is some way continue what they left on Grave ne w world but here are some symphonic prog passages full of mellotron beauty, in places moving away from that acustic folk of the previous albums. Pieces like Autumn, Sad young man or the title track are pute bliss to listen. Grandious passages, and rank amongst the finest of the Strawbs pieces they ever done. This is a perfect melting moments from old Strawbs with new sound thay incorporated here, the result is more then great and among my fav Strawbs albums for sure. Pastoral feel, acustic meets more energic moments all in a perfect Strawbs atmosphere. 4/5 stars easy.
Bogdan Olariu

Incredibly decided to buy Hero and Heroine just a few days ago, and after several decades as a fan of the STRAWBS, a decision I delayed mostly because without Hudson and Ford I thought this would be an inferior attempt of Cousins and Lambert to keep the name alive?..Gladly I have to admit it was a big mistake, the album is simply fantastic from start to end, the beautiful voice of Dave Cousins and the magic Mellotron of the former RENAISSANCE keyboardist John Hawken are able not only to keep the magic alive, but to raise the bar even more.
The album is opened by the mini suite . Autumn: Heroine's Theme, Deep Summer's Sleep, The Winter Long blending the ability of the two Daves (Cousins and Lambert) with the acoustic guitar and the wizardry of Hawken in the keyboards, a perfect blend of Acoustic Folk, Gothic Music (understood as late Middle Age) and Symphonic Prog with a heartbreaking Mellotron performance.
But that's not all, around the fifth minute, a beautiful piano passage marks a radical change with a melancholic vocal work, perfectly supported by the rhythm section, along with The Hangman and the the best STRAWBS song.
Sad Young Man is more the kind of music we can expect from the band, pastoral, calmed and melodic with the usual trouvadoresque singing, but again Hawkens caught me by surprise with an outstanding organ solo. But what really impressed m,e is the way in which they play with the contrasts between this song and the faster rock oriented Just Love, by this moment its' obvious for me that we are not before a collection of great songs but in front of a coherent and well balanced album recorded with great taste.
As in the previous tracks, the guys work with the contrast between the folksy and almost acoustic Shine On Silver Sun based in the unique voice of cousins and soft piano complemented by the pompous and impressive Hero And Heroine, an electric and upbeat folk song, that reminds me of the days when Wakeman was in the band, again the STRAWBS hit the nail right in the head.
Midnight Sun and Cousins voice make me think in singer-songwriters like CAT STEVENS or AL STEWART, but of course the arrangements and delicate guitar performances make it unique. A characteristic that is boosted by the radical difference with the more dramatic Out in the Cold, a good song that could had been better with stronger arrangements and avoiding the extra sweet keyboards. Still wouldn't call it a bad track, just a bit.
Round and Round took me by surprise because it's so hard to define, heavier guitars and aggressive keyboards combined with a Folk/Medieval melodic tune, please pay special attention to the perfect interplay between Chas Cronk (Bass) and Rod Coombes in the drums, by this point, the band is working as a well-oiled machine, with each musician doing his part and even more.
The album ends with the unusually heavy Lay A Little Light On Me a track with a spectacular structure, because the intensity and drama go in crescendo to match perfectly with Hero's Theme, creating almost another mini epic that closes the album brilliantly.
Even though my album has two stupendous bonus themes, I will base my review solely in the original songlist, because that's the way the band made Hero and Heroine to be listened, and God.......They made a great job. Until today I used to believe that the excellent From The Witchwood was the peak of the STRAWBS career, but I changed my mind, doesn't matter if I couldn't find names as Hudson, Ford or Wakeman, this new lineup created a musical gem that deserves no less than 5/5 solid stars.
Ivan Melgar

One of the most acclaimed Strawbs albums, Hero and Heroine has never been able to keep me engaged the way that some of the band's other albums do. It is a good album but without the highs and consistency of Ghosts or even Grave New World. Founder and heart and soul of the band, singer-songwriter Dave COUSINS, sounds to my ears like Ian Anderson doing Peter Gabriel while the music the band created in this period sounds like the prog folk music that JETHRO TULL never made but everyone wishes (or thinks) that they did. Cousin's similarity to the voice qualities of an Anderson-Gabriel melange are so remarkable that I hear it in virtually every song the band does. It's not a bad thing, it's just an eerie, noticeable thing. The album opens with 2:15 of some of the proggiest stuff the band ever did in the form of the KING CRIMSON "Epitaph"-like intro to "Autumn," but then retreats into mostly nice sounding folk rock. A very good album of great pop folk songs with the opener and it's followup, the anthemic "Sad Young Man," as its high points. I much prefer Grave New World and Ghosts.
Drew Fisher

The English rock band Strawbs has made twenty-one studio records. One was released this october and I look forward to perhaps review it. "Hero and heroine" which is the subject of the day is their second most rated and also their second highest ranked record after 1972's "Grave new world".
"Strawbs" is avery special band which music is inspired by folk music, classical music and rock'n'roll music as well. The debut album "Strawbs" came 1969 and "Hero and Heroine" is their sixth effort. The cover picture is white and shows a hand grabbing a white dove who is flying. The line up is Dave Cousins(vocals, guitars), Dave Lambert(vocals, guitars), John Hawken(piano, organ, mellotron, synthesizer), Chas Cronk(bass, synthesizer, vocals) and Rod Coombes(drums, percussion, vocals). Let's finally say it has gone as much as fourty years since this was new music.
We face a record with many lovely songs between quite pure pop rock and prog music. The starting composition "Autumn" is also the best (10/10) and a reason to hear the record. This long song contains classical moods as well as more folky and symphonic rock patterns. Second best on the record is the title track "Hero and heroine" (8/10) a cool innovative rock song with a heavy symphonic main structure. "Sad young man"(8/10) is another of the record's jewels, an intriguing and special bit. The pop song "Lay a little light on me"(8/10) is also recommended, it reminds me a bit of Genesis in the beginning but the pop feeling is more like Electric Light Orchestra. The closer "Hero's them"8/10) is mighty as well. Furthermore should you of course listen to "Out in the cold" and "Round and round". The remaining three songs are of less interest.
Over all is Strawbs work here something quite unique and I am curious to further investigate their discography. I rate this record 3.7 which becomes four stars. It's not a prog masterpiece and yet very interesting. Best song: "Autumn"
Adrian Drömmaren

Hero and Heronine is often considered one of the band's great prog efforts, and it is indeed a great masterwork from the band. Former Renaissance keyboardist John Hawken created some of the most wonderfully gothic atmospheres on this album with his haunting and sweeping organ work, particularly from the mellotron and string synthesizer. The opener "Autumn" is a beautiful example, though his wall of minor keys and somber tones set the melancholic mood for much of the album. On the whole, the pieces comprise a nice blend of prog, folk, and rock styles retained from the last album. Round And Round is a proggy track and also a favourite as well as the title track and "Midnight Sun". Lambert's "Just Love" is more of an upbeat rock piece and may not fit perfectly with the moods from the other songs, but it is still great and up to this point at least, the band's albums were always packed with variety. For those interested in exploring some glorious 70's progressive folk rock, this in highly recommended stuff and it would also provide a suitable first exposure to the Strawbs. Four and a half stars.
Frankie Flowers

Nice album for this band. Very balanced and calm in some tracks and more fast in other's. This album is not progressive Folk but, to me, is a bit of psichedelic space rock and synphonic prog. Some guitar calm parts remember me some Floydian contexts and others some Yes parts. The voice have harmony and chorus is adapted in music work. Nice guitar and piano parts. Some symphonic parts made in this work are very nice, not boring because they made fast and strong parts. Very good drums work and balanced. I like this album and to me, one of the best made by Strawbs. Very strong album and I give 5/5 stars.
João Paulo

9.5/10 Incredible
Hero and Heroine is yet another fantastic Strawbs album. This album means alot to me in that it makes another attempt at a concept as "Grave New World" did. This album feels even more complete as a concept, actually, but the music for me does not quite meet the level of "Grave New World". That is not to say this is not masterful Strawbs stuff, because it is, ofcourse! Here the band is very tight and seems to be extremely comfortable in their new form and make some amazing strides in their sound. The songs are all wonderful on here, with "Hero and Heroine" reminiscent of the passion found in the good old "The Hangman and the Papist". This album jumps from melodic masterwork in beauty and melody to some pretty heavy and sometimes dark themes. This was another thing I loved about "Grave New World"; it's theme and mood were very uplifting and spiritual for me, espeiclaly with the large inner gatefold and the Buddhist quote inside. "Hero and Heroine" has songs like "Round and Round" which I absolutely adore, but almost wish the lyrics hadn't been so harsh (they don't fit the melody in my opinion). The biggest highs are found on "Autumn", "Shine on Silver Sun" and "Hero's Theme"'s ending moments...just incredible. "Autumn" is by far the best track, with the most incredible ending which we all love, "The Winter Long". This moment introduces us to another incredible member to be added to the "Bursting at the Seams" line-up, John Hawken, keyboardist from Renaissance. This man is brilliant, and his work is just so beautiful. His ending piano theme for "Winter Long" is a timeless classic that people everywhere love at first listen. I might also add that the entire ending from "Lay a Little Light On Me" into "Hero's theme" is just a classic prog moment, and one of the best album closers ever.
Overall this album really brings the final peices of this new Strawbs line-up into full view, and all of these members come together in bits and peices as well as full form to perform on stage all over the world today! This album should be experienced, even as an introduction to Strawbs, because it carries a new form and solidity for the band. Greatness as always, thank you Strawbs!!!!!!
Brian Travers

Hero and Heroine is the last great album that the Strawbs made in the 70's.
It is varied in its styles and moods and contains in Autumn, a song to rival previous greats such as Benedictus and Hangman and the Papist.
The Album starts with Autumn 9/10- a three part epic, it starts with organ and acoustic guitar and the lyrics a re moving, Dave Cousins singing is majestic and the guitars frfom Cousins and Dave Almbert are glorious.
The next song Sad Young Man 8/10 is a sad little song, mellow in its tone and sad in its words, Cousins paints a picture of a sad life with no hope, but a sort of redemption.
Just love 6/10 is a song which seems out of plce, rocky, bouncy and a love song with a happy lyric, Dave Lambert wrote and sang this and its a welcome addition to the album.
The next track is Shine on Silver Sun 8/10- a mellow song with a brilliant lyric.
Side two kiacks off with the title track Hero and Heroine 10/10 a storming tale of love gone wrong, the lyric which has the biggest effect on me is " Hero could no longer speak, while realising he was weak"- This song may be about drugs but im not sure.
Midnight sun 7/10- is a lovely little song not much more to say.
Out in the Cold 9/10- is a brilliant song, Dave Cousins is at his best when he writes about love gone wrong, and this is one of the best examples, a brilliant little song, sad and lonely thoguh Cousins is in this song it gets even scarier on Round and Round 10/10- as scary a song as The Stawbs ever recorded. Cousins makes you his plight is real, the opening lyric is " I drew the blade acroos my wrist to see how it would feel, looked in to the future there was nothing to reveal". Tjhis song is a terryfying addition to this record and is all the better for it.
Finally comes Lay a Llittle Light On Me 8/10-, a song of awsome power and depth, this sonng seems to be an attack on Catholicism and the teachings of its church.
Again Cousins makes you believe in what he is singing, the song is an excellent end to the record.
Listen to this album with an open mind and you will find much to enjoy, this is a record of power and depth and is an excellent copmpanion to Grave New world and Bursting At The Seams.
Duane Wilkinson

The winter long, I will always be with you
This particular albuim is very enjoyable in many ways and would appeal to the senses of many prog fans. The songwriting is very well done and Cousin's vocals are partiularly good. The general atmosphere throughout the albums is lush and inviting, yet full of emotion and eventually, great amounts of depression. first four songs are a typical collection of songs, each well-crafted and pleasing in their own right. The opener, arguably the best song on the albums is a multi-part suite which cohesively presents itself as a timeless masterpiece. The song flows seamlessly between the interesting opening that for some reason reminds me of King Crimson and ends up to a beautiful piano-backed piece that truly rings out in majesty, leaving the listener in awe; moved by the emotional content. The next song, "Sad Young Man" is a haunting ballad that borrows less from their folk background in favor in the lush melodies of symphonic. The next song is a great pop song with happy upbeat guitars, a typical love song which was most likely a single designed for radio. Finally "Shine on Silver Sun" is a typical song from the band with excellent vocal harmonies and a somewhat catchy piano melody. After that, the listener is immediately whisked away with the opening riff of "Hero and Heroine" in to the side long group of songs which is the basis for a good amount of this album's praise. The first part is a good blend of the band's folk roots with the instrumentation of prog. The lyrics grow melancholy from here. The rest of the songs flow very well, so it is somewhat hard to tell when one ends and the next begin, but it a part of the album's charm. The styles range from the melodic folk of "Midnight Sun" to the almost epic symphonic-based style of "Round and Round." Each song offers a new melody or progression for which the song is pushed further and enhances the album as a whole. Electric guitar is prominent, perhaps more so than other folk-based bands, but it does not detract from the experience at all, and is further enhanced by mellotron or piano at points, and are always helped by the vocals.
In conclusion, this albums offers the listener with very pleasant and melodic content with the occasional powerful riff or the occasional moment of great passion which can not be recreated. The album draws a lot of its stregth through it's links in theme and music, forming a cohesive work where the music was able to progress to a great album. I have very few complaints about this album and can highly recommend it as an excellent addition to any prog music collection.
Daniel

Starts off like a track form Floyd's Obscured By Clouds period. But that's only for a moment. Then we have great prog folk. We have here great compositions, foggy atmosphere, gentle melodies and very fine playing. The best songs here are: Autumn, Hero And Heroine, Shine On Silver Sun, Lay A Little Light On Me. First when I have heard this record I must say I was a litlle bit bored with it. But I grew up to listen to it, and appreciete this album. Still this is not a masterpiece for my. 4 stars are not enough, should be 4,5 but we don't have that note here.
Rafal

5/5 stars !!! , a most beautiful piece of music that has ever been recorded, a mellotron rush and beautiful melodies. A sad and uplifting album all rolled up in one tremendous mellotron lovers feast, one of my all time favorites and a must for any prog lover afficianado. BEST track :Hero and Heroine SECOND :Autumn THIRD :The rest of this essential album, going into the progessive rock hall of fame for masterpieces, up there with the best of the genre.
Lucas W.

For me, the best of the "Strawbs" album. You can't go wrong with this one. Sure, it may be a bit more accesible music wise but, all songs are good.
The album start with the epic, "Autumn" a must for mellotron lovers around the world :) The song start with a slow and dark synthesizer melody and a basic drum pattern and electric guitar in a lots of reverb. Then, the mellotron start in a glorious string sound, wow, i really like this parts :) Simple but good bass line and electric guitar pattern. The second parts of the song "Deep Summer's Sleep", starts with classical guitar with electric guitare doing a beautiful melody. The melloron in this part, is simply majestic. The last part "The Winter Long", start on piano, bass and guitar to be fallowed by the vocal. I really like the vocal melody, very beautiful. The song ends with majestic mellotron choir sound.
The second track is "Sad Young Man", a ballad. Usualy i am not a big fan of ballad, but in this case, i really like it.
The third one may be the more commercial song on the album, very up tempo.
"Shine On Silver Sun" is not my favorite, but good mellotron in it.
"Hero & Heroine" + "Midnight Sun" are the highlights of the album. "Hero & Heroine" witch is a real roker, contain the best mellotron parts of the album, simply to majestic. The song is mix with the beatiful "Midnight Sun" that is mostly acoustic guitar, parcussion and the mellotron flute.
"Out In The Cold" may be the song i apreciate the least on the album, a bit too folk for my taste.
"Round And Round" is very progressive, lots of synthesizer, i really like this one, a must.
"Lay A Little Light On Me" very catchy, another good song.
The almost instrumental "Hero's Theme", there is cool vocal effects, ends the album in a magnificiant way.
5/5 Stars, Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music.
Etienne Brousseau

The seventh work released in 1974 "Hero And Heroine". The route of the Electric rock is promoted further, and the music in a new age when the synthesizer was made good use of is constructed. The charm of STRAWBS however firmly becomes lively Vocal of Dave Cousins. Yet another masterpiece from STRAWBS.Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music.
braindamage

A 5/5 star masterpiece for me becasue it is one of a very few perfect albums that I have encountered. This album has beautiful and classic pieces and some very good pieces but not one bad song. From start to finish it is excellent. A classic and hearing Autumn live recently moved me just the same as it did on record 30 years ago. The music from these guys have touched many people who were fortunate enough to discover them and i guarantee anyone who has not sampled them will be thankful when they discover and play this gem.
J. M.

What can i say,i guess it all has been said about this beautiful piece of music,even the cover is beautiful ! What a wonderful instrument the mellotron was...or is.(There are still a lot of groups using it....long live !) But there`s not just the mellotron that makes this album great,the instruments are well played by every member in the group,but that wouldn`t be enought if the songs wasen`t any good,however...on this album they are great.Lovely songs that are in fact simple, but they are arranged in a very clever way that lifts them up to a higher level. This was a very creativ period for the group(as it was for many others)and after seeing Strawbs live in Oslo many years ago,i got the chance to talk to Dave Cousins ,and i asked him what his favorite album was,and he said Deep Cuts.That album is good but there are other that comes before that one. If there are anything negative about this album it must be the song "just love" ,it`s not as good as the rest.And last...i dont know why,but i have never liked the lyrics on "round and round"mabye it`s because i used to be a hippie. Strong, very strong 4/5 stars !
gunv-k

Led by the ambitious prose and untamed warble of mastermind Dave Cousins, Strawbs started as a bluegrass outfit called the Strawberry Hill Boys, briefly worked with future Fairport Convention singer Sandy Denny, and eventually evolved into full-fledged prog by the mid-1970s. Hero and Heroine is the band's heaviest, most symphonic album, anchored by John Hawken's ghostly Mellotron and guitarist Dave Lambert's stinging distortion. Strawbs hadn't abandoned their acoustic side — "Midnight Sun" is one of Cousins' most assured ballads. But the newfound muscle and energy broadened their appeal: Multi-part opener "Autumn" is the band's most majestic moment, a melancholy epic for the prog time capsule. Bonus fact: Production team Sid Roams sampled the title track for rapper Papoose's 2008 track "Bang Bang."
Rolling Stone

Thursday, sometime in early Spring 1974. I'm on my way home from school to watch 'Rock On with 45' Granada TV's tea-time music show. As usual I get waylaid larking about with mates. When I get in out of the cold Rock On is almost over. Tonight it's live from Bellevue Leisure Park and I catch the tail end of a storming performance of a tune that I can only describe as a rock, baroque, gothic, country jig. The band is the Strawbs, but I don't catch the tune's name or the album the track is on. But I do remember a lyric which sent shivers up and down my spine '….For he had yet to suffer.'
The following Saturday I'm in the town, persuading the patient women behind the record store counter to let me look at all the Strawbs albums inner sleeves. I read each lyric until I find the one I'm looking for. It's Hero And Heroine and the start of something big. Although I subsequently acquired all the Strawbs albums, and love them all dearly, Hero And Heroine still holds a special place at the very start of that journey.
Hero And Heroineis more than just a collection of songs. It is a feast of connections, re-iterations of phrases and themes, which lend it a feeling of wholeness. The original vinyl release also made you physically aware of the album's two distinct moods and although this is less apparent on the CD release you still notice the downturn in mood by track five.
Side one starts with the slow burn organ and synthesiser introduction "Heroine's Theme" to "Autumn". Time was when every progressive band would name separate movements within songs. There are three within "Autumn" but, strangely no mention of these sub titles is made on the re-mastered CD, even though they are listed on the original vinyl and on the early 90's Canadian CD re-issue.(awful sound quality by the way - you have been warned). Anyway this self contained intro slips quickly into a slow, moody groove, complete with eerie bird call effects courtesy of Dave Lambert's electric guitar. Building to a keyboard and guitar climax "Heroine's Theme" drops away to reveal the acoustic/electric call and response guitar figures that leads into part two of "Autumn": "Deep Summer's Sleep", an evocative musical and lyrical description of the arrival of Autumn. Swathed in mists of mellotron and topped with Dave Cousins' vocal, double tracked with a whisper. John Hawken's star shines brightly (as it does through the rest of the album)as he takes the section to an end with a leslied organ/mellotron coda. This segues into "The Winter Long", a tender and uplifting love song that looks forward to the arrival of spring. Led by Hawken's acoustic piano flourishes, Dave Lambert takes over on the vocal duties and does a splendid job. The multi-tracked vocal choruses of 'Hold onto me' never fail to warm as the rhythm section cranks up a notch and Dave Lambert lets loose on a restrained but powerful guitar break which tracks the vocal melody. A mellotron choir appears and its all over. Very satisfying. And the shortest eight minutes of your life.
"Sad Young Man" written by Rod Coombes is next up, introduced by Hawken's fender rhodes. I particularly like the reversed vocal effects and Dave Lambert is again sensitive and restrained. Dave leads the vocal about a depressed young man on the move, until the vocals are picked up by Lambert as the song leads into an organ middle eight before Dave takes over again.
"Just Love" is a Dave Lambert penned rocker, the like of which we find on all Strawbs albums of this period. "The Winter and the Summer" it isn't. I love the guitar work but the song only passes the time in a pub rocky sort of way. Sorry Dave, but you're a far better player than writer. However I'm sure many of you will disagree with me.
"Shine On Silver Sun" is a reverb drenched fairy tale of a song, which sounds,…….well silvery! Pay attention to the chorus! You'll hear it again, albeit mutated later on in the proceedings.
Track five. Prepare for the downturn This is bleak, very bleak, but in a most satisfying and cynical way. First, the track that started it all for me: "Hero and Heroine". A huge blast of organ and mellotron introduces the song (play loud is my advice). This fades away for some seriously fast plucking on what I always thought was Dave's banjo, but I can't be sure [in fact it is double speed piano played by Hawken, though the song was originally played by Dave to the band on a banjo! - DG]. This leads into the first verse which culminates in a refrain of the opening keyboard blast. The whole thing is a mutated anti drug hoe-down and as far as I'm concerned is totally unique. Verse two is the real killer. Dave sings the lyrics unaccompanied as an echo build around his voice which culminates in that lyric '……for he had yet to suffer'. If the hairs on the back of your neck don't stand up then you're already dead. It's a crime that this song, released as a single, was not a huge hit. Shame on the record buying British public. The song continues apace with a foreboding keyboard middle eight, before it slams into top gear again and doesn't let up until the fade.
As "Hero and Heroine" fades out "Midnight Sun" fades in. An acoustic song that appears to be lyrically connected with "Hero and Heroine". To me this evokes Hero alone on his raft contemplating his future, which doesn't seem to be very bright and is carried by Dave's weary and strained voice and beautiful mullet-tracked vocal choruses. This lyrical continuity also appears to happen later on in the album
As "Midnight Sun" finishes we are straight into the harmonica introduction to "Out In The Cold", mainly acoustic in feel and with a lyrical line that in less sensitive hands would be salacious but in Mr Cousins's hands is quite tender.
"Round and Round" is not my favourite song. That said it came over really well, powered by Chas Cronke's bass pedals, at the 30th Anniversary concert at Chiswick when it followed "Beside The Rio Grande". However Hawken is on top form with his moog intro which leads the song, (quite a rocker with a strong Who type riff) into Dave's cynical and spiteful lyric. He virtually spits the words at you, prior to delivering his spoken word diatribe which cranks up the hysteria level as the song draws to a close. The song finishes with what appears to be an early synthesiser sequencer piece, but given that they used tape loops on the next song it could be some other Heath Robinson approach.
Now for the last tracks. "Lay A Little Light On Me" and "Hero's Theme" are one piece. The first tells a tale of suicide and connects itself thematically with "Round and Round" whose first line is 'I drew the blade across my wrist…' whereas "Lay A Little Light" opens with the narrator watching the blood flow from the wound. Dave has a way with lyrics. As the song progresses the lyrics contain biblical references. They don't always affirm faith but instead seem to frequently question its worth.. This is Dave Lambert's chance to really shine. As the lyrics come to an end he works up a stunning and powerful chord sequence which builds and builds until it suddenly drops away revealing a stunning touch. A massed choir of unintelligible yet melodic voices. These voices are in fact the chorus lines of "Shine On Silver Sun" reversed and looped. My vinyl copy was scratched and this would not go off into the run off groove. I'd let this go on for ages and eventually I'd go to sleep with it on. All I can say is what a closer to a fantastic album.
The additional tracks on the re-issued CD are the frankly inconsequential and rather ham fisted version of "Lay A Little Light On Me" and a second incomplete track called "Still Small Voice". This is a minor revelation, dark, mysterious, intriguing and incomplete. Dave please, please let us all hear a finished version.
Paul Martland

This is the second appearance on CD for Hero And Heroine (the first was on A & M Canada VPCD 3607), and what an improvement. As with all Strawbs albums, this classic work has been screaming out for a proper CD release since before CD's were even available. The sound on the re-release CD is infinitely better, and the overall packaging and presentation is a massive improvement. A & M/Polygram have done an excellent job with the repackages, but once again the lack of lyrics is a shame. The original vinyl pressing included the lyrics, why could they not have been included with the reissue. Also, although John Tobler's notes are in an interesting read, more information about writers, studios, and recording would have been appreciated.
The album itself has something of an interesting history, as it was the first Strawbs album following the departure of John Ford, Richard Hudson (who formed the successful Hudson Ford at this point), and Blue Weaver all left the band. David Cousins and Dave Lambert managed to form a new line-up of The Strawbs, rather than folding at this point, and it was an excellent choice to continue, as they produced what could be considered one of their best albums.
In Canada, this album has the distinction of being a "classic rock," and at times one may hear "Autumn" on an "classic rock" FM station. In fact, "Autumn" was something of a turntable hit in this country when released as a single. The song itself is pure magic, with one of the most beautiful tunes ever written, especially the third segment "The Winter Long." David Cousins' voice, and new recruit John Hawken's piano playing is flawless, and some of the most pure emotion ever committed to tape. It is a brilliant moment in Strawbs and rock music history.
This is followed by another new member's song, Rod Coombes' "Sad Young Man." An excellent introduction for the new member, as it is a pleasant song which adds to the flow of the album. Dave Lambert's "Just Love" is next, which is probably the lowest point on the disc. Not a bad song, just very indistinguishable.
Cousins returns for the far too short, but extremely powerful "Shine On Silver Sun." Cousins really comes into his own on this album, and this is just one more example of his ability to write amazingly melodic tunes with great visual lyrics. Again, a lyric sheet would have been nice, as it almost reads as a poem.
The title track, "Hero and Heroine" is the centre point of this album. One wonders if Bowie had listened to this track for inspiration for his "doomed lovers" tale, "Heroes." Nicely arranged, and well sung by Cousins.
"Midnight Sun" is a collaboration between Cousins, and the last new member Chas Cronk. At is also one of the best songs on the album. The tune stays in with the listener all day. Again, the imagery created by the instruments and the lyrics creates an amazing atmosphere of almost tranquillity, with a sense of danger. This is a true talent to create this within three minutes and twelve seconds, but the Strawbs manage to pull it off.
"Out in the Cold" is a breath before the truly bleak "Round And Round." An interesting song, with some really disturbing imagery that was about 20 years ahead of its time. Cousins again creates an atmosphere with his music and lyrics, but unlike "Midnight Sun", there is nothing even remotely tranquil with this song. It is surprising that a '90's band has not covered this song, as it would fit that musical climate much more than 1973. Perhaps a reissue as a single would garner attention for this gem.
"Lay A Little Light On Me" and "Hero's Theme" bring this album to a close. Both credible songs, with beautiful melodies. But they are almost anti-climatic following "Round And Round." This CD reissue has an early, unreleased version of "Lay A Little Light On Me" that just does not work, although it is very interesting to listen to compare it with the released version. "Still Small Voice" is the other bonus track available, and again, it is previously unreleased, and according to the notes unfinished. To these ears it sounds quite finished and quite good, which indicates there are probably other unreleased gems sitting in a vault somewhere. Since these unreleased songs were available, more unreleased material would have been nice on this release.
This is a brilliant album. A strong, cohesive unit. It is not a concept album, or "rock opera", but it holds together remarkable well, and is somewhat thematic. This album has also aged very well. It holds up when listen to some 25 years following its release. This is a rare achievement. On this album, Strawbs were able to go a bit further into the rock field, and almost left behind their folk connections. Sure acoustic guitars are heard, and the tight harmony vocals are present, but this album leans more towards "progressive rock" than it does Bob Dylan. This demonstrates the band's ability to grow, and experiment with their music, and it worked - an excellent album, and an excellent reissue.
Aaron Badgley

Greetings, one and all. So far there have been strong feelings for this classic album, despite its obvious darkness in places. And, for the most part, I must concur with the general opinion. As for my own review, that is far from easy. Part of the problem is that there are so many sets of memories with this album. Trying to remove my feelings from these assorted memories is difficult, at very best. I'll try, but it won't be easy.
On a whole, the album blows me away now as much as it did the first time I heard it. But while I may admire and respect its power and incredible themes, it is not my favourite Strawbs record. As others have stated, I went through a period of depression, culminating in a nervous breakdown. This album did nothing to cheer me up, that's for sure.
On the other hand, it certainly is, for me, a recognition of my own mortality. It has helped, because I see the darkness in me is evident in the Strawbs, and that I am not alone. That said, this is not an album I shared much with others. It is my most personal album, listened to on autumn days that were grey and gloomy, and made for reflection upon my own pain and failings. It has darkness, yes, but it is the darkness of the fading light, and the falling seasons. It has the darkness of my own mortality, which must be faced, ultimately, alone. Other Strawbs albums were about religion, this one seems to be about the NEED for religion; the need for Light in our lives, whatever we preceive the Light to be. The song "Lay A Little Light On Me" may be the most sincere prayer ever recorded.
Every song on this record seems to indicate a thought or philosophy designed to bring us away from the ulitmate fear - death. Want, need, love, lust, are all in place to remove the reminder that we are going to die. We even use humour for this, sometimes black humour, as in "Round and Round".This album, then, poses no answers about the question of death. It merely looks at various and sundry ways in which we avoid the unavoidable - eventually, death itself. Yet there is an answer. It's in the line in the song at the very last, in "Hero's Theme", that is chanted over and over again.
Just a few notes, and I'm done. The song "Hero And Heroine" is one of the deepest analogous songs I have ever come across. It can be taken on several different levels. The obvious one, of drug addiction, is there, of course. But there is also one of loss of love, or the loss of one's faith, or whatever you find comforting in your life. It's about want, gone to addiction. For many people, this first want in life, when removed, brings about the first full recognition of our mortality. It can be the loss of a parent or guardian figure, or a loved one of any kind. Later on it may be the loss of first love. It may be watching a beloved pet die.
Whatever the method, early in life we are brought face to face with loss - real loss, unjust loss. The recognition that the world can be, and often is, a cruel and hard place.
I can imagine quite a few of you may disagree with me. Perhaps I have not fully recovered from my illness to be writing this, and the effects are showing. Still, I have always felt this way about Hero And Heroine. Of all the Strawbs albums, this one is the hardest, the most bitter. There is no cream with these Strawbs - only the hard fruit of a cold, uncaring world. Yet in the end, we know we need to hold on to one another, as they say in "The Winter Long". We still need love for each other, and we still need to hold together. We've been given the tools for spiritual survival. We need to use them. Shine On Silver Sun.
Doug Leblanc

The darker side of progressive rock, revealed.
Some things are easier said than done. If you wanted to create something prophetic, dark, and telltale-esque, prog rock was a perfect place for you. There was a catch, though; you were either all in or all out. The risks were only even higher if you wanted to drive a Gothic sound through the genre. Few artists have done so and even less did it well. However, there was a band that was in the right for the tough, specific, and risky criteria. That group was Strawbs.
Strawbs was well on its way when it achieved success in Grave New World and Bursting at the Seams, and was looking for something different. What they wanted was something that was a cross between the fantasy-like sound of Yes, the conceptual diversity of Pink Floyd, and the melodic driven folk nature of the early King Crimson. The personal demands of the group would become the result of Hero and Heroine, a dark, Gothic, and doom-laden album that does more than first thought.
There’s an advantage that Hero and Heroine has in comparison to other progressive rock bands of the time. It can work with a variety of different music forms and yet retain its prog-rock identity. Strawbs has been able to create dark, Gothic, blossoming, beautiful epics, such as Autumn, which gives flavor and spirit to the album. The group has been also able to construct simple, easygoing, fun mainstream folk-rock ballads that are able to attract both ears. But what Strawbs does best is producing the highly prophetic themes throughout every single song of the album, whether it is just a single stanza or the entirety of the lyrics. Examples include the title track, Round and Round, and Midnight Sun, which take on the darkest perspectives of the album. Strawbs ended up rocking the hardest on Hero and Heroine, which led to flourishing success of the fruitfully musical content.
What came along with the advantages of the dark, prophetic album is the lesser accessibility of the whole album itself. What of lack of accessibility does it suffer? The problem is simple, yet complicated: it is only capable for young, giddy men who like using and abusing drugs. This mislabel was unfortunately too complex and serious and ended up becoming a soundtrack associated with the generation of “drug takers” and becomes a defenseless target on No Man’s Land due to the rejection of auto-sensitive popular music lovers. To desensitize an album strictly ruled by prog rock elements are almost on both on the band’s and the critic’s scourge against itself. How could that change? Simple: rely on some popular genres and techniques. That’s what Strawbs did.
What made up for the lack of commercial and radio support on was the highly respectable guitar driven lead by Dave Lambert. He delivers romanticist-era solo sections in sections of songs such as Shine On Silver Sun and Deep Summer’s Sleep while executing cold dark slashing riffs in other songs like Round and Round. Add the excellent, yet subtle songwriting and folk-style lyrics of Dave Cousin help and you get back-up for the sharp guitar playing of Lambert. To top it off, you get the muscular rhythmically heavy riffs done well by Chas Cronk and Rod Coombes and the result of a very heavy progressive rock. This was vital to the success of Hero and Heroine.
Hero and Heroine was a finely-executed progressive folk album that incorporated some special content in the end. It had an exceptional foundation of fine instrumentality, a variety of effective rock elements, and Cousin’s great songwriting, which made up for the infrequency of publicity. This album, if popular and mainstream criticism disregarded, could be considered one the darkest and best done prog folk rock works of the mid-1970s.
NightmareCinema16


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