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Steeleye Span - Ten Map Mop Or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


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3.10 | 32 ratings

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2 stars After the disappointing "Please to See the King", Steeleye Span returned with an even weaker effort of generally spiritless material, perhaps partially explained by the imminent implosion of the group. It was to be the last album for two nearly incorrigible traditionalists, Martin Carthy and Ashley Hutchings.

Tunes like "Marrowbones", "Four Nights Drunk" and "Skewball" suffer from a certain fatigue, malaise and lack of melodic interest, and the absence of percussion hurts any potency that might have resulted from the interpretations. The jigs and reels are also largely throwaway, well played though they may be. But "Ten Man Mop" does include one of Steeleye's finest moments, the plodding masterpiece "Gower Wassail", a liberal interpretation of an old solstice song, with expectant guitar chords and a fine vocal performance chiefly by the menfolk. Another brilliant contribution features Maddy Prior singing "When I was on Horseback". Also very slowly paced, it recounts the tale of the downfall of a soldier, perhaps from a social disease? It is a gender twist to hear Maddy singing in first person as a male who describes himself as pretty and gay. A haunting and powerful tune that plumbs the depths of despair.

One could have been excused for believing that "Ten Man Mop" would be the last Steeleye album based on the loss of a significant contingent and the relative paucity of captivating material, but how wrong would one have been, for what was soon to follow would effectively mop away any vestiges of this tentative lineup.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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