Steve Ashley
Stroll On: Revisited
Market Square (pmpr@compuserve.com)

The story goes that 30 record labels passed over Steve Ashley's Stroll On, delaying the record for three years before its release in 1974. If there is a lesson in that, it is that genius can go unrecognized. Stroll On: Revisited is a classic album in every sense. The musical guests run the gamut of the English folk-rock scene, but, mind you, this isn't a case of spoiled broth. Rather, "Stroll On" manages to be a well-orchestrated calendar album, with the play of seasons the overarching theme. Ashley's "Fire and Wine" (the ultimate winter song) has often been covered, but this is the full-on original treatment with choral introduction and rocking groove. Incredibly, the entire album has worn remarkably well and it bears the stamp of timelessness that the best British folk-rock can conjure. Market Square has done a fine job of properly reissuing this gem, with plenty of great pictures (dig Ashley's shaggy-haired patchwork-jean phase). Three additional tunes are included, one of which is the beautifully medieval-flavored "The Spirit of Christmas," formerly featured on the "Electric Muse" collection. "Old Rock 'N' Roll," another new addition recorded with numerous Fairporters, feels slightly different from the rest of the album: it's a good song, but it actually sounds more American than the other tracks. As a debut album, Stroll On is remarkably mature, and Ashley's magical achievement can now be savored again. - Lee Blackstone

Buy it at cdroots.com

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