This is the first Steeleye Span record I’ve ever heard, after hearing about them for years and years. As with any band like that, my impressions were fixed without ever having listened to this, so on first listen I didn’t know what to do with it.
This is a rough, unpolished version of folk rock that occasionally veers into progressive folk. Its roughhewn sound is kind of off-putting at first, partly due to my preconceived notions and partly because the record I listened to before this one was such a slick affair (so this sounded even rougher).
The songs, though traditional, are not as immediate as you might expect, so that ads to the high barrier of entry. (Either I’m in a weird place right now or it’s a surprise to me that this was their most commercially successful record.)
But once you give it time it opens itself up and what you get is a series of modern (for the era) takes on traditional songs which could never have been performed previously. There’s a heavy does of “rock” here (relatively speaking), but the way it’s combined with the folk songs is not ala Byrds or Fairport and very much their own unique thing. (There aren’t a lot of drums, despite the presence of distorted electric guitars. It’s a weird sound but it works.)
Honestly, the more I listen to it the more I like it; it’s a unique take on folk rock that manages to not sound derivative at all. It just takes a fair amount of time to get there, because this is not a record that is polished.
- “One Misty Moisty Morning” (Traditional) – 3.30
- “Alison Gross” (Traditional) – 5.29
- “The Bold Poachers” (Traditional) – 4.18
- “The Ups And Downs” (Traditional) – 2.45
- “Robbery with Violins” (Traditional) – 1.47
- “The Wee Wee Man” (Traditional) – 4.01
- “The Weaver and The Factory Maid” (Traditional) – 5.21
- “Rogues in a Nation” (Robert Burns) – 4.34
- “Cam Ye O’er Frae France” (Traditional) – 2.49
- “Hares on The Mountain” (Traditional) – 4.33
- Maddy Prior – vocals
- Tim Hart – vocals, guitar, appalachian dulcimer
- Bob Johnson – vocals, guitar
- Rick Kemp – bass guitar, drums
- Peter Knight – violin, viola, mandolin, piano, recorder, harmonium