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Steeleye Span - Back In Line CD (album) cover

BACK IN LINE

Steeleye Span

 

Prog Related

2.49 | 5 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Peace on the border (between Folk Rock and "plain" Rock)

Steeleye Span are best known for electrifying traditional Folk songs and bringing traditional Folk music into a Rock context. This happened mainly in the 70's, but the evolution of Steeleye Span did not stop there. What makes the present album somewhat unique in the Steeleye Span catalogue is the fact that they write much of their own material here instead of relying on traditional music as they usually do. Back In Line was not, however, the first time the band wrote new material of their own, they had done so also for the previous Sails Of Silver album from 1980 (an album I have yet to hear). It is impressive that the material here still sounds very much as if it was traditional and it is clearly in line with what the band had done before (and since). Only Blackleg Minor is a traditional Folk song and, surprisingly perhaps, this is one of the most "progressive" songs of the album. I think it was recorded live. Another piece that is not original is the short Classical violin performance of A Canon By Telemann which is exactly what its title implies. The inclusion of such a piece shows the diversity of the band even though it's not the first time they included a Classical piece. White Man is another song that stands out. This one has an African sound and a quite complex vocal arrangement.

The sound of Back In Line reflects the spirit of the age i.e. the 80's. The drums and production in particular have a typical 80's sound. But don't let this stop you from enjoying the mostly good songs presented here. The trademark features of the band are all present including Maddy Prior's very distinctive vocals alternating with male lead vocals. Personally, I even enjoy this album as much as some of their albums from the 70's, but it is by no means among Steeleye Span's best albums. The songs are generally rather short and there is not much progression in most of them. There are certainly many better places to start investigating this band, but coming to the present album eventually is worthwhile if you enjoy Steeleye Span and British Folk Rock in general (as I do). But for the general Prog fan, digging this deep into the discography of Steeleye Span may not be a priority.

I can therefore recommend this album to fans and collectors only, but for us it is certainly not without its merits

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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