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Steeleye Span - Tempted And Tried CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


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3.47 | 13 ratings

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4 stars While Steeleye split briefly in the late 1970s, they did release 3 albums in the next decade, the best of which was "Tempted and Tried". Trimming the plod rock element of the 1970s and utilizing production techniques of the late 1980s, they managed to produce an effort that captured their spirit while sounding fresh and understated. Some who have difficulty with the more overtly Celtic earlier material may find this incarnation more palatable.

The album roars to life with two tunes sung by Bob Johnson, the bouncy singalong "Jack Hall", and the macabre yet musically cheery "Two Butchers". This makes Maddy Prior's first appearance more welcome, and she does not disappoint, with Steeleye's rousing take on the May Day experience called "Padstow". This is one of their best latter day tracks, evoking the spring sun in its jauntiness to the extent that one almost needs to squint or don shades. "Shaking of the Sheets" is a harmonious and haunting tribute to death, with Johnson in vocal lead joined by Prior in the chorus, and comes closer to progressive than most of the material here, in an incongruously carefree way. However, the honor of most proggy track here goes to "Following Me", which sounds like a verbose Renaissance - think "Jeckyll and Hyde" from their Azure D'Or recording, suffused with anticipatory dread and paranoia. The vocal harmonies and backing for Maddy's musings, and Johnson's agile guitar leads are riveting. It is one of two back to back numbers written by Peter Knight that close the album. The finale, "The Fox", takes the hard rock element a bit too far and comes off more clumsy than whimsy.

A few filler tracks can be found, ones that tend to be lengthy and boring, contrasting a bit too much with the livelier sounds elsewhere, but the best of these is "Betsy Bell and Mary Gray" with its eerie fiddle and Maddy's slow controlled wails.

All in all, this is a fine comeback, a Celtic folk rock effort with a few well placed progressive underpinnings that reaffirms Steeleye Span's status as masters of the genre. Be tempted and try it.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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