Strawbs - Hero & Heroine In Ascencia
Why? Just, why? That is the overriding question left upon listening to Hero & Heroine In Ascencia, a complete re-recording by Strawbs of their brilliant and very successful 1974 Hero And Heroine album. If this had been faithful to the original, then what would have been the point? But by reinterpreting the record, surely it is demeaning the first version, which is loved by the fans for a reason. The current incarnation of the band has been playing the album in its entirety on recent tours, so what’s the problem with a live album documenting this? Yes, there are a lot of unanswered questions here, but that is because this really is a baffling release.
In truth, the existentialist points pale into nothingness sat next to the utter hash Strawbs have made of this most beloved of albums. David Collins sounds like an old drunk, wailing tunelessly as he systematically mangles track after track; he even manages to ruin the title track despite the timelessness of the tune. But that is nothing compared to the butchering done to ‘Lay A Little Light On Me’, where the screams of a dying cat would have been preferable to his intoxicated racket – I’ve heard better singing in Soho at 5am than that!
This is not even a record for completists, such is the damage done – all do yourselves a favour and just go and get the original Hero And Heroine, one of the finest examples of English progressive rock of its or any other day. The idea of re-recording previous efforts has by and large never worked before, and Strawbs have only added to the argument that rewriting history is a very bad idea indeed.