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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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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

Obviously titled after the group's expansion, having finally jumped the gap in hiring a drummer; indeed former Gnidrolog Nigel Pegrum joins forces with SS. Most ironic is that this was also their sixth album, but only the third with the present line-up , with only Prior and Hart as original members, but by this time their formula was wearing thin and the group tried to experiment to avoid being redundant. Of course, experimentation is a tricky and risky bet, that makes it either double or nothing, and unfortunately with this album, it comes up not empty, but no better than previous efforts. With (again) six birds up in the tree in the album's medieval artwork and Tull's Ian Anderson's production on the album, this is yet another fave from SS's less folk-purist fans. By this time, it's pretty hard not to call a SS a real folk rock group, although the sextet present two very distinct facets: the first being the rare-gem digging group exhuming pure folk songs with moderate success (as to what they found to unearth), and the second being a group that had a more pressing need to adapt some songs electrically to avoid redundancy and repetition.

Starting on the dynamite-laden Thomas The Rhymer track, the album opens on an almost parody of hard folk rock or metal folk, with unconvincing crunchy (and crushing) guitars. What the band tried was to repeat the guitar in the previous Parcel album, but they forgot to adapt it fittingly. Much more convincing is Drink Down The Moon, a trad folk, which is indeed what SS does best, especially when Knight comes in with his violin, relayed by a short electric guitar wail, but the track takes a predictable turn into a semi-jig finale. A very boring fiddle announces a very traditional Two Magicians, which indeed pull a cheap trick to attempt amazing the listener, outside a few power chords (this is clearly a Tull-inspired chord) that border the ridicule, next that fiddle and Maddy's fragile vocals, but in some ways (and completely involuntarily, I'm sure) there is a bit of GG's spirit in that track. A complete waste of time is the title track and its idiot sister Twinkle on the flipside, so I won't make a waste of ink or database space, as I won't for the yet-another obligatory jig(the "Mooncoin" jig, this time, but it sounds like nothing new under the sun. Boooooooring, uninventive, repetitititititive and redundant. Long-A-Growing should only be prescribed when insomnia perseveres, but this drug is so powerful that it should overcome that pesky buggering disorder, while the album-closing cheesy cover of some 50's Doo Wop hit is completely laughable, if not ridiculous.

The album's first highlight is the good Seven Hundred Elves, were the band is finally credible in its use of electricity and the Tull-inspired power chords don't sound silly or misplaced, while Knight's violin sounds like String Driven Thing's Graeme Smith. The other interesting and credible rocker is the crunchy Edwin, which appeared to be as monstrous a character as the opening electric guitar chords. The track develops a fun atmosphere and a rare flute and an underlining oboe (both courtesy of drummer Pergrum) happen happily along with electric guitar and riffing violin and even the whispered vocals (mixed a tad too loud for my taste) are tasteful and not hindering the track's repetitive listening capacities. Excellent stuff.

What many aficionados call SS's most prog albums presents a schizophrenic personality complex that ultimately ruins its credibility (something that the closing track achieves on its own), no matter what the Tull flauter tried to do from behind the production desk, he can't save the album from a relative d'ysaster. Some years are like that!! Still worth a spin for the few good tracks.

Sean Trane | 2/5 |


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