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Steeleye Span - Bedlam Born CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


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3.51 | 7 ratings

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3 stars No less than a dozen albums, 30 years, countless permutations, and several reunions on, Steeleye Span finally presents a configuration sans Maddy Prior. While this might have been unimaginable, indeed unfeasible, in the early days, in 2000 it was barely surprising. The group has been akin to a family unit of late: just because Maddy isn't living at home anymore doesn't mean she has been excommunicated - in fact, she has appeared at Spanfest several times in the interim.

The remaining members, mostly veterans by this point, turn in a more than credible performance, which at times rocks harder than the group has since "Rocket Cottage", not a bad point of comparison. The difference is that the radiating Celtic and Olde English edges have been smoothed, such that "Well Done Liar" and "John of Ditchford" sound more like straight ahead rock than the group ever did. It's still distinctive, thanks to Johnson's voice and guitar, Harries' bass, Knight's fiddle and the inimitable male/female harmonies. Gay Woods also has some ideas of her own and really blossoms on haunting tunes like "I See His Blood upon the Rose" helped in no small part by Knight, and the anthemic power ballad "Beyond the Dreaming Place".

Even if several tunes in both categories miss the mark - "We Poor Labouring Men" and "The Connemara Cradle Song" among them - this remains a noteworthy if unspectacular effort in the fascinating bedlam that is the Steeleye Span story.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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