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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Deadlines: Remastered & Expanded Box-Set'
Artist - The Strawbs

For those not in the know, The Strawbs are an English rock band founded in 1964. Although the band started out as a bluegrass group they eventually moved on to other styles such as folk rock, progressive rock, and (briefly) glam rock.

They are best known for their hit, 'Part of the Union', which reached number two in the UK charts in February 1973, as well as for 'Lay Down,' a popular progressive rock hit from the same LP.

The Strawbs also toured with Supertramp on their Crime of the Century tour, doing their own Hero and Heroine tour, which drew musical similarities and themes.

Esoteric Recordings is now releasing (June 21st, 2019 via Esoteric Recordings / Cherry Red Records UK) a remastered and expanded 2 CD / 1 DVD boxset edition of their 1977 album, Deadlines.

Released in late 1977, this would be the band’s final album to be released in the 1970s. Recorded in Dublin and London by a line-up of Dave Cousins (vocals, acoustic guitars, banjo, guitar), Dave Lambert (vocals, lead guitar), Chas Cronk (bass, acoustic guitar, vocals) and Tony Fernandez (drums, percussion) with guest keyboard players John Mealing and Robert Kirby, Deadlines was the Strawbs only album for the Arista label.

Often unfairly overlooked in the Strawbs canon and largely ignored by some quarters of the music press upon its release (at the height of Punk rock), Deadlines was a mighty fine album featuring some excellent tracks such as ‘No Return’, ‘The Last Resort’, ‘Sealed With A Traitor’s Kiss’, ‘Time And Life’, ‘New Beginnings’, ‘Deadly Nightshade’ and ‘Words of Wisdom’.

CD 1 - Deadlines: Original Album
1. 'No Return'
2. 'Joey and Me'
3. 'Sealed with a Traitor's Kiss'
4. 'I Don't Want to Talk About It'
5. 'The Last Resort'
6. 'Time and Life'
7. 'New Beginnings'
8. 'Deadly Nightshade'
9. 'Words of Wisdom'
10. 'Midnight' (Out-Take) - BONUS TRACK
11. 'No Return' (Acoustic Demo) - BONUS TRACK
12. 'Sealed with a Traitors Kiss' (Acoustic Demo) - BONUS TRACK
13. 'Time and Life' (Acoustic Demo) - BONUS TRACK
14. 'Deadly Nightshade' (Acoustic Demo) - BONUS TRACK
15. 'Words of Wisdom' (Acoustic Demo) - BONUS TRACK
16. 'The Chosen Ones' (Acoustic Demo) - BONUS TRACK
17. 'Sealed with a Traitors Kiss' (Band Demo) - BONUS TRACK
18. 'No Return' (Dublin Production Mix) - BONUS TRACK
19. 'Joey and Me' (Dublin Production Mix) - BONUS TRACK
20. 'Deadly Nightshade' (Dublin Production Mix) - BONUS TRACK

CD 2 - BBC Radio One "Sight & Sound in Concert" 18th February 1978
1. 'Lay Down'
2. 'The Last Resort'
3. 'Ghosts'
4. 'No Return'
5. 'Heartbreaker'
6. 'Sealed with a Traitors Kiss'
7. 'Simple Visions'
8. 'Cut Like a Diamond'
9. 'Out in the Cold'
10. 'Round and Round'
11. 'Hero and Heroine'

DVD - BBC TV "Sight & Sound in Concert" 18th February 1978
1. 'Lay Down'
2. 'The Last Resort'
3. 'Ghosts'
4. 'No Return'
5. 'Heartbreaker'
6. 'Sealed with a Traitors Kiss'
7. 'Simple Visions'
8. 'Cut Like a Diamond'
9. 'Out in the Cold'
10. 'Round and Round'
11. 'Hero and Heroine'

For most hardcore Strawbs fans, this album remains a perennial let down. Why? Two reasons: 1) Dave Cousins admitted it was not one of his favorite recording experiences as the label was shunting him aside for Dave Lambert; having the guitarist assume a de facto leader role when (really) none was needed, and 2) It came out at a time when progressive rock was withering on the vine and its best bands were struggling for redefinition.

However, The Strawbs were no stranger to this latter dilemma. Deadlines can be described as full of sound and fury signifying nothing; a loud, lumbering set weighed down by bombastic production, overdub nightmares and poor songwriting.

And yet, this brand new 2019 3-Disc boxset from Esoteric Recordings has strangely made me fall in love (perhaps for the first time ever) with the album!

Real heft and drama have been "added" to these songs via the remastering process, the bottom solid, the spacing and instrumentation given newfound clarity and context throughout.

The vocals are much better layered, mannered, effervescent and the guitars sting and barb the listener with newfound power (all hail Dave Lambert!).

Of course, we've heard all these songs before, but some just "pop" now quite like never before. I mean, 'Words Of Wisdom' and 'No Return' both retain their venom and vitriol and sound even MORE anthemic than ever.

Yet I've now come to actually enjoy 'Joey And Me' and 'The Last Resort', not to mention the dark ballads such as both 'Sealed With A Traitor's Kiss' and 'Deadly Nightshade'.

So time isn't the enemy here and the remastered tweaking has made a decent, if unspectacular, album all THAT much better. The Strawbs fans have no fear, dig in and enjoy for it's now time for Deadlines to take its rightful place in the Strawbs pantheon!

To promote the album. The Strawbs made a memorable appearance on the BBC TV and Radio simulcast programme “Sight & Sound in Concert” in February 1978 (featuring recently recruited keyboard player Andy Richards in their ranks) where they performed a blistering 60 minute set of some material from Deadlines along with other classics such as ‘Lay Down’, ‘Ghosts’, ‘Heartbreaker’, ‘Cut Like a Diamond’, ‘Round and Round’ and ‘Hero and Heroine’.

This concert appears on both a CD and a DVD (NTSC / Region Free) in this wondrous boxset for the first time, remastered from the original BBC tapes, along with 11 bonus tracks comprising alternate takes and demos from the Deadlines sessions.

2 CD / 1 DVD Box-Set Purchase Link