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Steeleye Span - Commoners Crown CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


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3.18 | 32 ratings

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3 stars After the occasional excesses of "Now we are Six", Steeleye Span adopted a more balanced approach on "Commoner's Crown", which some feel is their pinnacle work. The same lineup was intact which allowed them to continue to hone their sound as a unit, and tone it down in the right ways.

One of the endearing qualities of Steeleye Span was their ability to turn gore into exaltation, almost as if, in the very act of recounting macabre tunes, they were celebrating the lives of the long slain. Two of the best tracks, "Little Sir Hugh" and the very proggy "Long Lankin", are both so styled. "Little Sir Hugh" takes a near idyllic nursery rhyme into a bloodfest, while the bridge of "Long Lankin" revels that "there was blood all in the kitchen, there was blood all in the hall, there was blood all in the parlour, where my lady she did fall". The victims are aware of the dangers and take precautions to avoid them, but in the end come up powerless, which is part of makes these tunes so chilling. "Demon Lover" is a strong tune of deceit and false love, while "Elf Call" is a showcase for lovely harmonies blended with timely technology. Another improvement is in the so called throwaway, the silly "New York Girls" featuring Peter Sellers on ukelele. With plenty of zip, it is an excellent album closer and works far better than most of their attempts at novelty.

Yet again, the filler quotient seems too high for this to be rated as truly excellent. "Bach goes to Limerick" is the requisite instrumental and it does have a few interesting moments but nothing sustainable. "Dogs and Ferrets" , "Galtee Farmer" and "Weary Cutters" all sound like outtakes from their earlier period, albeit much better produced. The a cappella style no longer works as well for Steeleye now that they are more rock oriented. So, although I could go either way, in the end this effort is not uncommon enough to warrant 4 stars, even if could be so crowned by a reasonable critic.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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