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Comments on The Complete Strawbs Live At Chiswick House DVD

Les Cotton

DVD arrived today, so I just had to watch it....

Quality of video is excellent, apparently filmed on digital equipment. Sound is good, but Dave's Ovation seems very quiet in parts, and the customary stories between songs are missing. The bonus track "Blue Angel" is excellent, Rod Demick very effective on backing vocals and bass, and Brian doing some excellent electric lead fills, shame DCs Ovation is so quiet. Dave Lambert plays the trusty Les Paul Custom for the most part, but on "Stormy Down" has a different guitar I don't recognize...anyone any ideas?? Sounds nice, an electric similar in shape to a Les Paul (bit Gretsch or Danelctro-like?). Talking of guitars, why doesnt DC use the Ovations (6 and 12 string) these days? Oh, and Mr Greener is featured applauding enthusiastically at least twice!

"Dave Cousins Remembers" features DC dressed very theatrically (big hat, cravat type scarf etc..) chatting about the gig as he strolls round the grounds of Chiswick House. The trailer for Japan '75 DVD looks very promising, excellent pro quality film and sound.

Chris Bell

My DVD arrived on Friday - I'm in New Zealand, so everyone else who was quick off the mark with their orders should have received them, also, by now! I only had chance to watch it once over the weekend. My first impressions:

1. Fave song so far: "New World" - great version. Always loved John's bassline on this, and he's come up with some bits that differ from the recorded version, to complement DL's wah-wah guitar.

2. It would have been great to have a bit more from DC, in his "DC remembers'"segment, on the logistics of actually putting the concert together.

3. Because of the way the gig was set up - with the pond in front of the stage - at times it almost seemed the band was playing without an audience. Some more cameras would have helped, but no doubt budgetary constraints had an influence here.

4. The drummers were neglected! Due to camera positions, again, the poor tub-thumpers got very little screen-time - especially poor Rod Coombes. Great to see him again, though, and with a reasonable haircut these days!

Anyway, just my initial thoughts, for what they're worth. Always good to see the band in a live setting, and seeing the H&H band in Japan in the 'trailer' segment brought back many memories of 'when we were young'.

Paco Fox

Just found time to order directly from Witchwood records last week the DVD. Surprisingly, it arrived yesterday. I say surprisingly because it's not that easy to give your name and address correctly by phone in my rough spoken english. Thank God the lady that answered the phone was all patience and very kind!.

My first impression: The DVD was a mostly a delight and a slight disappointment too. The bad side is the picture quality. I work in television as a producer and it annoyed me sometimes when it became too evident it was recorded in a non professional system. But, hey!, I can live with that. I would have bought it even if it was recorded in VHS. But I really can't understand why the tracks aren't separated one by one in the song sellection menu.

Anyway, I liked it. Mostly because, maybe, the first drawback I've mentioned can be understood as an advantage: the nearly-amateur recording goes hand in hand with the intimacy and magic of the show that Cousins remarks on in the bonus feature.

I loved "Hero And Heroine". I liked this version a lot when I first listened to it on the CD (that said, I'm not usually a fan of my fave songs reworked: for instance, I didn't much like the new "Blue Angel", because I miss the Wakeman-ish piano in the second part and didn't quite like the way the drums are played). But "Hero And Heroine"was great, improved with the vision of Ric Sanders jumping around like a crazy minstrel, like an Ian Anderson with violin. And Cousins is really enjoying himself!.

Tom Brooking

Well I've watched the DVD twice now on mate's home theatre and it's great. The sound is excellent -much warmer than on the CD and the organ and keyboards come through much better as does the bass - and the picture is very clear. The homely, amateur touches go nicely with the relaxed concert - just like being there even if you don't see much of the hard working drummers. DC makes a good historian (that's my job) even if he looks like a cross between Oscar Wilde and Lord Clark the art historian. The humour at the the end of his bit is great too - but NOW I'd love a DVD of the acoustic three with all jokes etc left in!!!

"Blue Angel" is a somewhat odd version with nice bits but it doesn't quite cohere - everything else works well with the two fiddle tracks, "Round And Round", "Josephine", "Oh How She Changed", "New World" and "Down By The Sea" all standouts. Gosh though DC must write some material for the 2 leads format-they're awesome . Roll on Hummingbird and a DVD of the acoustic band - with stories and everything, then friends will believe how funny DC can be for a serious song writer. The Tokyo DVD looks like rampant nostalgia and a real blast from the past. Thanks lads and cheers from the chilly deep south!


I just want to say that the DVD has many sublime parts. It's great to see all the former members playing together again. Not having been there, it's wonderful to be able to see it. And I love to hear Dave C. and Tony Hooper singing harmony. They sound so good together! Rick Sanders from Fairport Convention really adds some lovely violin accompaniment to "Ringing Down the Years". I think most loyal Strawbs fans will really enjoy it.

I would like to know who introduces the different line-ups of the group since we can't see on film who it is. Just very curious.

Dick Greener

Having seen the opus on the big screen only and not at home, once I got over the fact that a few scenes had dodgy bits and they'd had to use some trickery to deal with a few seconds here and there where they had no real footage (stills, slo-mo and the like), I thought the DVD really captured the energy and enthusiam of that day in Chiswick - the two power bands (H&H band and Bursting plus Brian band) really rocked.

There is footage lurking around (cerainly on the other contributors' tapes, and presumably on DC's masters too) of some of the bits missed off both CD and DVD, but bear in mind they'll have only mixed the 24-track audio they're going to use. Adding loads more songs would have added considerably to the price and probably made the project unviable.

The footage was really just DC's own home movie of a/the crucial day in his personal rock history and if viewed as such, I'm just glad that he's shared it with us.

Mind, I've just given my copy to a mate for his birthday, so I'd better order another one from Witchwood pronto.

Neil Punnett

I bought the Strawbs Chiswick DVD [at the South Petherton gig], despite not having a DVD player. Well...... yesterday I bought a DVD player. Damn you, Dave Cousins, you are not content with dominating my music collection, now you've forced me to move into the 21st century! It took me years to get a CD player, now I've bought a DVD player within ten days. And not any DVD player, oh no; just the slimmest, cutest one in the shop!

But I'm glad I did (even if my bank account looks sadder). I think the Chiswick DVD is excellent. I couldn't get to the actual event, so this is the next best thing. And if it is the first DVD you've ever seen, you can't fail to be impressed by the quality of the picture and the sound. Tremendous to see Dave walking through the grounds of Chiswick House in his hat and long coat. And what superb performances! A beautiful "Josephine, For Better Or For Worse"; a rousing "Hero And Heroine"; a lively "Stormy Down"; and really, really great to see and hear "Blue Angel".

Thanks Strawbs. If you are thinking of getting a DVD player, this is the best excuse to do so. And with the level of success of the Acoustic Strawbs, this may be the only way to see the electric band.......

Tom (Fairfield, OH)

I finally got a chance to check out the "Live at Chiswick House" DVD and it was excellent: highly recommended. The thing I liked about it most is it features different band members from different phases of Strawbs: Blue Weaver, Tony Hooper, Richard Hudson, Rod Coombes, Dave Lambert, John Ford,Rod Demick, Brian Willoughby and, last but not least, the headmaster - Dave Cousins. The show begins and the sun is beaming down on the murky lilypad-filled pond which was in front of the stage. For a while it seemed as though the pond was their audience: then the camera panned to show the first gathering of what would be near 1,000 people. Richard Hudson was excellent on drums although they really didn't show him. They did show Rod Coombes quite a bit though. Maybe Richard told the cameraman to leave him alone - I don't know, but I would have liked to see more of him.

It seemed strange to see Dave Cousins moving around the stage like the old Strawbs before the Acoustic Strawbs style with them all sitting on stools. As the guys played you could see people walking by on the left side of the stage: either the beer stand was there or the lavatories [actually it was the route backstage - hence all the beer (you'll note it is travelling one way only ;-) DG]. Then you see Ric Sanders stroll by; next thing you know he is onstage moving all over the stage with his fiddle - he was everywhere!!! I have only seen him one other time with Fairport Convention, and then he stayed in the left hand corner for the whole show....what a great fiddle/violin player, every bit as good as Jean Luc Ponty, if not better.

It was great seeing Dave Lambert on guitar and so much different looking with his short streaked hair; Chas Cronk was excellent on bass. I definitely like his playing more then Rod Demick's. Adam Wakeman was excellent too although I enjoyed Blue's playing more: Blue let loose a lot more, Adam just seemed to kick back. It was said that Rick was sick in the hospital at the time, so Adam filled in (I forget what his ailment was) Then John Ford hits the stage: with his glasses and hair he reminded me of Jack Casady years ago playing bass for the Jefferson Airplane. And it was great to hear Tony Hooper sing "Oh How She Changed" - he was an important member of the early Strawbs, and sometimes it seems like he is forgotten.

When the sun went down the lights were more noticeable and the light show was excellent reflected off the pond. I was thinking, with the pond there, mosquitos would be everywhere but it looked like the band was OK but maybe the audience got bitten to death. I looked at the pond and pictured someone falling in after a six pack of beer, losing their footing or just being pushed in as a joke. The pond kept people at least 50 feet back, which seemed like it could be a drawback since I would like to be closer to my favorite band [yes, it was the only failing in that otherwise excellent venue - DG].

It was great seeing Dave in his little outfit complete with funny hat reflecting on that magical day at Chiswick and taking a stroll around the grounds and showing statues and explaining the history of the site. I think my favorite part of the DVD is the segment where Dave and company perform "Blue Angel" - the icing on the cake!! "Blue Angel" was sorely missed this last tour in the US: Dave Lambert please learn this song !!!

The Chiswick show also features two songs that aren't on the CD - "Part Of The Union" and "Stormy Down". Watching this DVD has really made my night and I can't wait to see them live in the US again. What great memories of this past year - 2003 was the best thanks to Strawbs.

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