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Steeleye Span Ten Man Mop, or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again album cover
3.11 | 35 ratings | 7 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Gower Wassail (5:24)
2. Jigs: Paddy Clancey's Jig / Willie Clancy's Fancy (3:07)
3. Four Nights Drunk (3:04)
4. When I Was on Horseback (6:11)
5. Marrowbones (4:25)
6. Captain Coulston (5:02)
7. Reels: Dowd's Favourite / £10 Float / The Morning Dew (3:41)
8. Wee Weaver (2:38)
9. Skewball (3:30)

Total Time 37:02

Bonus tracks on 2006 reissue:
10. General Taylor (studio outtake) (3:31)
11. Rave On (single) (1:54)
12. Rave On (alternate version) (1:24)
13. Rave On (alternate version II) (2:07)

Bonus CD from 2006 reissue - BBC Radio 1 "Peel's Sunday Concert" 15 Sept 1971 (prev. unreleased)
1. False Knight on the Road (4:13)
2. The Lark in the Morning (4:50)
3. Rave On (2:37)
4. Three Reels: Dowd's Favourite / The £ 10 Float / Musical Priest (4:01)
5. Captain Coulston (5:15)
6. Handsome Polly-O (2:39)
7. Two Sea Shanties: (Bring 'em Down / Haul On the Bowline) (2:53)
8. Four Nights Drunk (3:04)
9. When I Was on Horseback (6:09)
10. I Live Not Where I Love (4:40)
11. Three Reels: The Wind That Shakes the Barley / Pigeon on the Gate / Jenny's Chickens (3:40)
12. Female Drummer (4:19)
13. General Taylor (4:04)
14. Four Reels: College Grove / Silver Spear / Ballymurphy Rake / Maid Behind the Bar (3:41)

Total Time 56:05

Line-up / Musicians

- Maddy Prior / vocals, spoons, tabor
- Tim Hart / vocals, guitar, 5-string banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, organ
- Martin Carthy / vocals, guitar, organ
- Peter Knight / violin, mandolin, tenor banjo, timpani, vocals
- Ashley Hutchings / bass

Releases information

Artwork: Davis/Berney/Wade with a photo by Sir John Benjamin Stone (1838-1914)

LP Pegasus ‎- PEG 9 (1971, UK)

CD Shanachie ‎- SH 79049 (1989, US)
2CD Castle Music ‎- CMQDD 1252 (2006, UK) Total of 18 bonus tracks expanding to extra CD

Thanks to kenethlevine for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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STEELEYE SPAN Ten Man Mop, or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again ratings distribution

(35 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(26%)
Good, but non-essential (57%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

STEELEYE SPAN Ten Man Mop, or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Second album from the Mk II line-up of SS and third overall. If the previous album artwork (Pleased To See The King) had hinted towards medieval folk pieces, it hadn't really delivered on that promise, offering a more recent repertoire of folk songs unearthed from old archive. Ten Man Mop has a way more popular folklore artwork, hinting at more recent folk repertoire, but again they missed the mark, and outside the usual boring jigs and reels (I mean these things are always the same), a good deal of the tracklist seems to come from further back in time than the PTSTK selection, or their arrangements seemed more ancient. Again 'and as usual with SS) most of the material proposed in this album is either pure folk, sometimes electrified folk and in a few moments might hit the folk rock realm, but there isn't much in terms of really progressiveness past some electricity in a few tracks, precisely those most likely to interest the progheads

There are a few tracks that offer some interest, including the opening Gower Wassail, where Martin Carthy's electric guitar, coupled with Knight's tenor banjo and Hart's mandolin provide some great soundscape. Elsewhere, When I Was On Horseback, where Knight's violin provide much of the medieval feel, or Captain Coulton where Carthy's electric guitar provide good arrangements in the background. Honourable mentions for the closing Skewbull as well.Other tracks like Four Nights Drunk, Marrowbones, the lament Wee Weaver are pure folk bores, hopeless Aulde Albion Songs From Yesteryear that only provoke yawns and inducing boredom and sleep.

And we are again faced with a bunch of reels and jigs (here no less than three), which have been done sooooooo many thousands of time, without any kind of renewal that they become pointless in such an album. I mean digging out some old song or lament has some kind of interest for purists and completists, especially on the lyrics or texts, but I doubt the same goes for these jigs and reels that bring nothing new and are all the same, almost note for note and no lyrics. This would be Hutchings' last album with SS, as he would found the albion Country Band) and Martin Carthy would follow suit. So in large, while a worthy album for folk addicts, a nearly scandalous album for folk purists, a bland album for folk rockers, TMM is of nearly no interest for progheads looking for hints of progressiveness, but it's not completely devoid of quality, far from it. Hence a worthy two stars, which if understood properly is hardly a punishment.

Review by kenethlevine
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.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Jigs, reels and hey nonny nonny

Steeleye Span have developed a reputation over the years for being an ever changing group of players, the line up depending very much on who is around at the time. The line up which recorded the band's second album "Please to see the king" did however manage to remain intact long enough to record this album, but fundamental changes were made after its release.

The rather odd title needs to be taken in two unrelated parts. The "Ten man mop" part refers to an olden days job selection process, the "Mop" being the group of available employees. A ten man mop was a collection of just ten candidates. The "Mr. Reservoir Butler rides again" part refers to an obscure performer who, according to band member Tim Hart, originally sang one of the songs on the album (although he cannot recall which song). The band were so taken with his unusual name that they incorporated it into the album title.

"Ten man mop..." as a whole has more in common with the band's debut than with the second album, the electric guitar of Martin Cathy being less dominant this time around. Many of the songs have Irish origins, something which would contribute to the departure of founder Ashley Hutchings; not because he did not like the songs, but because his ambitions for the band had been rooted in English folk.

The opening "Gower Wassail" has something of a post-Sandy Denny Fairport Convention feel, as it features predominantly male vocal. The piece features strong lead guitar played by Martin Carthy, yet seems all the while to be an a-cappella rendition. The following pair of jigs continue the Fairport similarity, Peter Knight's violin playing mirroring that of Swarb. Such tracks emphasise the traditional roots of the music while offering a pleasing diversion from the songs. "Four nights drunk" is a straight duet between voice and fiddle for the most part, although the full band join in for the closing jig section.

The first chance Maddy Prior has to take centre stage is on the delightful ballad "When I was on horseback", a song which has a similar moribund feel to Fairport's "Bonny bunch of roses". Prior's vocals are superb here, drawing out the full beauty of the piece. "Marrowbones" is straight from the hey nonny nonny song book of folk, with little development or enhancement.

"Captain Coulston" reverts to the style of "When I was on horseback", Prior stepping up for only the second time to sing lead vocal. An undoubted highlight of the album, Maddy's vocal prowess is on full display on this track. Another batch of toe tapping jigs follows, the ending rather disappointingly being a far from traditional fade out. The brief "Wee weaver" finds Prior and Knight blending voice and violin with both taking the lead melody.

The album closes with "Skewball", the rather cryptic sleeve notes implying this is the name of a horse (the second favourite behind the legendary "Creeping Jane".. but as Carthy will testify, that's another story). The lyrics bear out the racing analogy, the song indeed being a sort of up-tempo "Creeping Jane". Here we find strong hints of the style Steeleye Span would adopt on subsequent albums.

Had the line up which made this album stayed together, this album would have been summed up as one of marking time. The music is highly enjoyable if taken in a folk context. We find little if anything of the prog folk influences which are apparent on other Steeleye Span albums, although the two ballad tracks do have a bit more of that meat to them.

The Castle Communications CD release has three versions of the out of character single "Rave on" added to the first disc plus a studio outtake called "General Taylor". The second disc has a complete concert by the band from 1971, recorded for the BBC's Radio 1. The recording quality is pretty awful, but it does capture this line up live and for that we should be grateful.

Review by Einsetumadur
3 stars 9.5/15P.: Steeleye Span go 'retro' with a slightly uneven mix of acoustic folk ditties and dark electric folk meandering in the vein of The Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs"

Ten Man Mop is a fairly strange album, and probably the one which is the toughest listen in Steeleye Span's whole discography. Contrary to the more sophisticated and medieval Please to See The King album with the prominent British influences, this album is kind of a return to the Irish song lore that was hinted at on the debut album of the group in 1970.

Therefore, actually the whole album has a very biting and dark sound which always reminds me of how I imagine a storm in the foggy, cold autumn blowing through the brown and bare highlands. Typically, the term "autumn album" most frequently describes romantic and softer albums like Genesis' Wind and Wuthering or Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here; in this case you get to hear another kind of autumn, a much more uncomfortable one which nevertheless isn't short of impression. I'm a great fan of Martin Carthy and there's only few of his songs which I think to be boring. Sadly, his acoustic numbers here are. If you're used to his wonderful singing on the Albion Country Band's New St.George, his marching masterpiece Night of Trafalgar or the mindblowing Steeleye Span BBC version of The Bold Poachers, songs like Marrowbones are somehow sub-par.

The opener Gower Wassail, an old Welsh 3/4-measured tune about some Christmas punch, however is really powerful. It already starts off with that edgy, plucked electric guitar sound on this album: Carthy plays one droning quint power chord again and again with some crunchy overdrive and absolutely no hint of additional effects (!). A second, softer guitar now adds some chords while some spare tabors are the only drums to be featured here. Between the first two stanzas, sung strongly by Tim Hart with his typical nasal voice, a very fine a-capella section of the whole band (Carthy, Hart, Knight and Prior with her clear alto voice) can be heard singing the refrain of the piece. From 1:45 on the arrangement becomes more beautiful, plenty of jangling guitars, picked fiddles and dulcimers are woven together to a delicate sound carpet. A short bridge reduces the arrangement again to the Fender Mustang and Telecaster guitars (as the liner notes say) and the bass guitar. Martin Carthy's can play really forcefully on acoustic guitars, but when he switches to electric guitars the pieces sound even more 'merciless'. The lyrics go We hope that your apple trees prosper and bear. So that we may have cider when we call next year.; there are no footnotes of Asian literature, no recitation of satellites of planets, just very simple and authentic lyrics from the Welsh countryside: the 'prog' neither lies in the music nor in the lyrics here, but basically in the arrangement. The piece then ends just like it has begun with the dry bass guitar sounds and then ends fairly abruptly.

Steeleye Span listeners know the jigs and reels which the band is famous for, short, traditional instrumental dances that aren't missing on any of the early Steeleye records. Here, we even have two of these dances, and the first one are the Jigs, driven by Peter Knight's virtuoso violin in a jolting rhythm. Just like it is usual on this album only acoustic instruments appear: besides the violin, there are just a banjo and some acoustic guitars, played by Tim Hart and Martin Carthy. The Reels appear a bit more fast-paced and rapid, but apart from that don't differ much from the jigs; actually, there are two different jigs in Jigs and even three reels in Reels, but I think that Steeleye Span combined them all to one single piece because I cannot notice different parts here. Both pieces do not include any unpredictable passages, but - lasting just three minutes each - serve as good food-tappers after the more complicated pieces on the record. Maddy Prior also plays some mean spoons on this one, actually the only spoons I have ever heard on a rock album.

Four Nights Drunk is not very different, except for that an amusing text about a drunk man and his hallucinations is added here, this time sung by Martin Carthy. An interesting effect is that the whole piece only consists of the vocals and the fast, playful violin playing the same unisono. After two minutes and a dog's call, the piece becomes a jig as well which loosely variates the catchy melody of the song with a good bass line played on the acoustic guitar.

The solemn and reflective When I Was on Horseback then is more exciting for the prog fan: 6 minutes of mesmerizing dulcimers, psychedelic as hell without any keyboards or too many electric guitars, perhaps one of the definitive pieces which everyone here should have heard. The whole piece is based on a floating dulcimer line to which Maddy Prior now may contribute her beautiful singing: the first time on this record, actually. After a minute an additional clean electric guitar and Ashley Hutching's best electric bass on this LP join in, and as soon as the violin adds a soft counterpointed line, the basic structures of the song are already built up. Somewhere from the middle of the piece on Peter Knight delivers a smooth and rather long violin solo, especially the pizzicato section creates a surreal effect: absolutely beautiful, wishful, but still kind of sad. "Wasn't I pretty when I entered Cork city, and met with my downfall on the 14th of May." This actually says everything about the song and its mood. A crescendo leads to a reprise of the first stanza, but now sung by the whole band as a chorale. To get a feeling how this sounds listen to Venus in Furs by The Velvet Underground: that mix between psychedelic electricity and English folklore is present in both pieces.

Marrowbones is much in the vein of Four Nights Drunk: a simple, funny tale based on the Harm set, harm get saying, is another typical folk song: a lot of lyrics, not too variable music, but a pleasant listen nonetheless. Neither will anyone hate it, nor will anyone worship it; that's it. Still, it's worth a listen for the double vocals by Prior and Carthy which aren't bad.

Now let's move over to Captain Coulston, my favorite track on this record and the track which brings the raw and original feeling of this album to perfection. Again, there is the electric dulcimer playing a hypnotic melody, backed by tremolo-laden electric guitar chords and Martin Carthy's organ which has its rare appearance in the background here. While Maddy Prior recites an exciting story about a pirate ship's attack on a ship carrying people to America, the music gets more and more intense and disturbing: the spooky electric guitar becomes more and more prominent, timpanis roll through the view, then the violin and the fuzz bass nearly saw the song to pieces, always with the frantic slashing of the distorted dulcimer. Some will also notice some blues melodies in the lead vocal line (1:56) which, as they don't really fit into the piece, always grab my attention - fitting with the "pirate ship" which is coming along at that time. Again, the song ends with a happier jig after Captain Coulston has finally defeated the pirates -, now with the more optimistically sounding banjo instead of the swirling guitars.

Wee Weaver is the predecessor to The Weaver and the Factory Maid from Steeleye's Parcel of Rogues record: a piece just for the violin and vocals, although here Maddy Prior takes over the lead. As well, the wee weaver progresses much slower and fascinates the listener with the 'stretched' melody. All in all - from the prog point of view - one of the more interesting folk songs on the record, although the glorious multi-tracked vocals of Weaver and the Factory Maid are missing here.

The final piece, Skewball then ends the album in nearly a heavy-metal-manner: at first the song begins with racy finger picking on the banjo and Tim Hart and Maddy Prior supplying very strong vocals, this time about a horse race. After some stanzas dry and hard guitar riffs slash in, but again blend into the arrangement well instead of overflowing the song with overdone sound mush.

Some reissues add the a-capella-piece General Taylor, sung very well by the whole band with Tim Hart as the leader.

Ashley Hutchings left the band after this album; he always was a quiet bandleader who organised the music, but didn't appear as a soloist in the music, but at that time he had founded a new line-up, the Albion Country Band, a loose collective of musicians who came and went until now. Check out his collaboration with his later wife Shirley Collins, No Roses, featuring the best folk rock song *ever* (I only bestow that title on this one track), Murder of the Maria Marten.

All in all, Ten Man Mop is a very impressing album which is simple in structure, but much more sophisticated and strenuous in sound and arrangement; the medievalisms from Please to see The King are completely gone away, leaving behind one of the most straightforward folk albums of the group. This leads to a ranking of about 3 stars, an album with many average or decent pieces, but also with three outstanding documents of electric folk which actually cannot be a lot better. Still, this means 'good' and it is worth buying, but the complete album isn't a really essential buy.

Review by Progfan97402
4 stars To me, this sounds just like another Steeleye Span, albeit more acoustic. There's surprisingly little electric instruments here. It's by far their most traditional sounding album, more in Celtic than English folk territory, as there's one Welsh folk song, and a good portion of Irish folk songs, jigs and reels. This album first appeared on the Pegasus label, with a pasted on booklet, but later appeared on the Mooncrest label, and Chrysalis reissued this (without the gatefold and pasted-on booklet), Chrysalis was the label Steeleye Span was recording for since 1972's Below the Salt.

"Gower Wassail" is a Welsh Christmas carol. Honestly I'm not familiar with this on, unlike a much better known Welsh Christmas carol, "Deck the Halls". Done in Steeleye Span style, you might not realize this was Welsh, it doesn't get you the impression of Welsh choirs, which is how this song would have been likely sung. They given some Irish jigs next, before going on to another vocal song, "Four Nights Drunk", with Martin Carthy singing. "When I Was On Horseback" sounds like Steeleye Span as we all come and love, with Maddy Prior's vocals. They also give some reels, and more traditional Irish, and handful of English folk songs.

It's the over-emphasis on Irish folk music that caused the departure of Ashley Hutchings and Martin Carthy (despite he was half-Irish). Perhaps they were feeling Steeleye Span was sounding too close to the Chieftains but with vocals minus the Uilleann pipes.

As a folk album, this is a perfectly good album. As a prog folk album, it crashes and burns. But this is obviously recommended more for those who love British Isles folk music, not so much prog folk. So I can't give this less than four stars, because I judge the album on music quality, not how "prog" or "not prog" it is.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Ten Man Mop finds Steeleye Span continuing their journey into sparse, stripped-down aesthetics and their application to classic folk. It's the continuation of a sound initiated on Please To See the King, and which I found more compelling there because it suited the sombre mood of its material. Here, there's a mixture of atmospheres called for, including some which are outright jolly (if a bit macabre at points), and as such the nigh-ghostly presence of the band isn't always as appropriate. I'd recommend trying out Please To See the King before giving this one an airing - and giving it a miss if you dislike that album. If you do like it and want more of the same, though, this is a perfect pick.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Steeleye Span's third album "Ten Man Mop Or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again" from 1972 is the only seventies album by this group I do not have in my collection. Here contribute Maddy Prior(vocals, spoons, tabor), Tim Hart (organ, dulcimer, banjo, guitar, mandolin, vocals), Peter Knight (fiddle, man ... (read more)

Report this review (#889208) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Monday, January 7, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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