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Steeleye Span - Now We Are Six CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


Prog Related

3.28 | 36 ratings

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4 stars Firm power chords and sweeping acoustic strums break open Steeleye Span's sixth offering, and 'Thomas the Rhymer' wears an ideal balance of classic rock simplicity, seafaring folk, and pop appeal. 'Now We Are Six' was not, as some insist, Steeleye's most 'prog' album to the extent that they had already shown greater progressions on previous LPs [Please to See the King, Below the Salt]. What it was, however, was their furthest crossover into the waters of hard rock and showed unlikely balls in the most unexpected places. Sure Ian Anderson's help as production consultant couldn't have hurt, but this ever-evolving group had been electrifying traditional British music for years and I suspect it was Anderson who wanted to be a part of this extraordinary musical communion of the past with the present, not the other way 'round.

No surprise after five consistently immaculate releases since 1970, the record is a sure-footed take on British folkrock by players who knew exactly what they were doing and from where their musical heritage had come. 'Drink Down the Moon' approaches gradually, Maddy Prior finally cutting through with her siren call, the funereal trudge of the band and Peter Knight's drunken-sailor fiddle. Trad. Child Ballad 'Two Magicians' sings of a maiden's flight from an amorous blacksmith, escaping his clutches as a swift-footed hare, and the slightly creepy title is sung by a nervous boys choir. Faeries come out to rock for 'Seven Hundred Elves', a call in the night, a gathering under the stars, a majikal happening. And Maddy serenades us with 'Long-A-Growing', a Traditional Round from the 18th Century [The Trees They Grow So High] about a young man's coming of age. A familiar dance arrangement in 'Mooncoin Jig', the stone-heavy, almost Sabbatic riffs of 'Edwin' supported by Tim Hart's sparkling banjo and Bob Johnson's electric blues accents. The at once dear, bizarre and off-key rendition of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' follows and the record ends with the superfluous and much maligned cover of 'To Know Him is to Love Him' sporting an alto sax solo by David Bowie.

Overall one of this endlessly talented brood's best, and an ideal place for a prog rocker to cut their teeth.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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