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Steeleye Span

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Steeleye Span Parcel Of Rogues album cover
3.60 | 44 ratings | 7 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. One Misty Moisty Morning (3:30)
2. Alison Gross (5:29)
3. The Bold Poachers (4:18)
4. The Ups And Downs (2:45)
5. Robbery With Violins (1:47)
6. The Wee Wee Man (4:01)
7. The Weaver And The Factory Maid (5:21)
8. Rogues In A Nation (4:34)
9. Cam Ye O'er Frae France (2:49)
10. Hares On The Mountain (4:33)

Total time 39:07

Line-up / Musicians

- Maddy Prior / vocals
- Tim Hart / vocals, guitar, Appalachian dulcimer
- Bob Johnson / vocals, guitar
- Peter Knight / violin, mandolin, viola, piano, harmonium, recorder, vocals
- Rick Kemp / bass, drums, vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Grahame Berney

LP Chrysalis ‎- CHR 1046 (1973, UK)

CD Shanachie ‎- SH 79045 (1987, US)
CD BGO Records ‎- BGOCD323 (1996, UK) Remastered

Thanks to zafreth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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STEELEYE SPAN Parcel Of Rogues ratings distribution

(44 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(52%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

STEELEYE SPAN Parcel Of Rogues reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars While BTS sold well, most fans will point to Parcel Of Rogues as their best effort of the time. The group's unchanged line-up chose a less historic/medieval artwork of BTS for a very pastoral almost modern milk cooperative Art-Nouveau tile artwork, which I find unsuited for both the title and the songs that fill it. Indeed "bunch of villains" are out for their sturdiest, rockier, louder and most unlawful album around, where one of the two guitarists obviously could not tone his electric guitar down and it unfortunately ruins the album's overall effectiveness.

Starting on the awkward Misty Moisty Morning, the album indicates that electrical elements will be more present and determinant than before, but the pedal-steered electric guitar doesn't impress, the song is a pure bore. The following Alison Gross is probably SS's most daring song and certainly the album's highlight. Hell this might be a Gentle Giant reworking of an old track, if it wasn't for the vocals and the same useless electric guitar screwing it up. You'll find the same bold and daring attitude in that crazy Robbery With Violins jig, where they're obviously trying to pull the answer to East of Eden Jig-A-Jig, but ultimately fail. Fortunately that awful guitar is gone (well almost) for the dramatic Bold Poacher, although this track could've been turned around to have some real intensity. Another solid track is Can Ye Over Frae France, where the mid-range drone behind the drum allows for some drama, especially with the electric guitar surges of power, providing a very unusual track, the second highlight of the album. BTW, the France and Rogues tracks are part of an adaptation of Robert Stevenson's Kidnapped

There are also the bunch of average tracks that usually abound on SS albums, although it's unfair to really call them fillers, but Ups And Downs, Wee Wee Man, Weaver And Factory Maid, Rogues in A Nation and the very boring Here On The Mountain are just run-of-the-mill tracks that wouldn't have found space on their debut album.

While quite imperfect, Parcel Of Rogue is among SS's most accomplished album as a rock act and probably so again if you're a proghead, although you won't have that much to sink your teeth into in terms of prog contents; but if you're a folkie, you'll really prefer Hark over POR. Hardly essential, but could be a good introduction to the band for progheads who have either too much time or cash, or have exhausted all other avenues in folk territory. Parcel Of Rogues or Package Of Rascals????

Review by Tom Ozric
4 stars To see Steeleye Span as a Prog Related entry here kind of surprises me. Well, it does and it doesn't. Out of all Steeleye records I've had (their debut to Storm Force Ten) I've only hung onto 4 of them. Some albums make me puke, actually. Maybe I'm just missing the point ??. I will, however, back-up 'Parcel Of Rogues' as being the one I spend most ear-time with. It has a vibrant sound, some songs are pure fun to listen to, and most of the re-arrangements of their selected tunes-of-old seem quite inspired to my ears. There are 2 tunes I have never enjoyed - 'The Ups And Downs' and 'Hares On The Mountain' - very traditional, innocent and rather straight-forward sounding traditional pieces, but the remaining tracks are mostly memorable. To briefly rant of what I consider as highlights : 'Alison Gross' is a tale of a Witch, and the accompanying music has a bit of a psychedelic twist to it, the guitars and violin/viola arrangements are a treat, but make sure that the last few Guitar chords don't shatter your glassware or windows etc. It's that spikey and harsh, I'm convinced they blew up the amp. 'The Bold Poachers' is a very sombre song. I particularly love the vocal harmonies (especially Maddy's), and the serious tone of the lyric - this time a story of 3 hunters who were brothers, illegally shooting down pheasants , and they shot a pheasant's keeper, and, then shot another... - indeed the last verse reads Exiled in transportation, two brothers, they were taken, and the other one hung as a token, may God forgive their crime . Quite heavy, actually. 'Robbery With Violins' is a short instrumental piece, showcasing Rick Kemp's inventive Bass playing, complete with excellent wah-wah effects, and excellent string work from Peter Knight. I believe Mr Kemp once auditioned as Bassist for King Crimson. The B-Side highlights feature 'The Weaver And The Factory maid', which offers the listener with a mildly complex vocal/instrumental arrangement, possibly the most 'Progressive' number on the album IMHO. Maddy's crystalline vocals flow smoothly against a rather rhythmically jumpy instrumental backing, again heavily dependent on the Bass and Strings, with some shimmering guitaring. Proof alone that these guys (and gal) were thoughtful and serious about their craft. The title track is an A-Cappella arrangement backed only with a Bass Drum, and sounds like a convincing, medieval chant. Very nice. The last strong song is the rather intense Cam Ye O'er Frae France, with its marching snares, Harmonium, acidic guitar chords and a potent lead vocal, once again from Maddy. From my lunatic Prog-Head point of view, this one borders on 4 stars, only just. Marginally Progressive, mostly enjoyable....
Review by kenethlevine
4 stars The same Steeleye Span lineup that produced their best album up to that point, "Below the Salt", was back for another run, even bolder and more in-your-face.

As with its predecessor, filler is kept to a minimum, with the weakest parts continuing to be those that are subject to least amplification and rearrangement, such as "The Ups and Downs", in which this lineup proves it cannot handle the silly singalong as well as its progenitors, even if it is in every other way superior. Instrumentals were rarely their forte, and this trend continues with the thankfully short "Robbery with Violins".

Elsewhere, one of the enduring Span classics is "Allison Gross", perhaps the heaviest song ever recorded without any percussion. The raucous story told in the first person by a poor fellow being pursued for romantic reasons by an ugly witch has a fuzzy guitar ending that really kicks, and I'm told that folkies and rockers alike used to stick their ears as close to the speaker as they could to absorb its impact in addition to the general noise level of this group's most imposing output. What did you say? "The Wee Wee Man" tastefully integrates the increasingly diverse corners of the band's sound.

Side 2 of the original vinyl is a non stop Spanfest. "The Weaver and the Factory Maid" transforms itself halfway through into an endearing Maddy Prior narrative backed by Peter Knight's most expressive fiddle. Then we have the stunning quasi title track. Nearly a cappella but for some hypnotic percussion, it is like a more mature and infinitely more earthy update on "Gaudete", which should rightly have been an even bigger hit. The melody is stirring. It is followed by one of Steeleye Span's most progressive songs, "Cam Ye all Frae France", even if it is only 2:45. Hey, any band that can sound progressive in less than 3 minutes is doing something right, right? It reminds me of some of Mike Oldfield's more inventive and Celtic sounding numbers that appeared a decade later, with fine acoustic and electric plucked melodies and a muted multi layered arrangement involving amorphous keyboards, not to mention Maddy's best Scottish rolling of the r's and some expectant rhythm guitar strums by Johnson. Truly another standout. The album ends with the more traditional "Hares on a Mountain", a lovely tune with Tim Hart at the helm, and a suitable closing.

While "Parcel of Rogues" is not a hugely progressive outing, it has as many elements that would please devout proggers as anything in their discography. More than a decade before the Pogues, these rogues managed to produce a Celtic rock album replete with hard rock attitude, justifiably considered their best by many. So start filling your parcel here and you get 4.5 stars.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars For auld lang syne

A year after the release of "Below the salt", Steeleye Span returned with an unchanged line up for "Parcel of rogues". This was the first album by the band where drums were played by a band member. No drummer was brought in though, it was bassist Rick Kemp who took on percussion duties.

This would be the band's best selling album to date, breaching the UK top 30 album chart for the first time. Its success can be attributed in no small measure to the Christmas hit "Gaudete", taken from the previous album. The album has a distinctly Scottish feel to it, with many of the songs having their roots in the auld country. The title track, "Rogues in a nation" for example is based on a poem by the national bard Robert Burns where he voices his dissent towards the union of the crowns of England and Scotland (a sort of early "Flower of Scotland").

Musically, the album develops the style adopted for "Below the salt", the 10 traditional songs present once again being given contemporary folk makeovers. Tracks such as "One misty moisty morning" challenge the vocal dexterity of Maddy Prior while offering a pleasing upbeat melody.

Among the highlights are the wonderful "Rogues in a nation". The arrangement of the song is kept sparse, a drum beat supporting a fine multi-part harmony. "Cam ye o'er frae France" requires Prior to sing in a Scots dialect, something she accomplishes with reasonable aplomb.

"Alison Gross" points the way towards the next album ("Now we are six"), as the song has a much stronger rock orientation. Even the harmonies here are far harder, backed by chiming lead guitars (but frustratingly still devoid of drums). Similarly, the atmosphere of "The bold poachers" is decidedly more morose, Tim Hart's vocals delivering the intriguing tale with a mastery of dispassion. "The weaver and the factory maid" sets out in a similar way but builds subtly, driven on by some fine violin. The jigs are kept relatively brief, with "The Bank of Ireland" being re-titled "Robbery with Violins".

"Parcel of rogues" sees Steeleye Span taking another giant step in the prog folk field. The album offered further evidence that they were intent on taking over Fairport Convention's distinction as the pioneers of Folk's blending with modern sounds and techniques. A fine album.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars A parcel of (still largely unfulfilled) promise!

Steeleye Span is an interesting band and while they were never a true Prog Rock band, they surely were "progressive" in some sense and often came close enough to Prog. At least they were sometimes eclectic and could often surprise their listeners over their long career. In my opinion, Steeleye Span's best albums were still ahead of them at this point and Parcel Of Rouges, though promising, was not really satisfying in the end. Over the next couple of albums, the band would really progress and add several new interesting aspects of their sound. While some songs, like Alison Gross for example, are Folk Rock, I hesitate to call the whole album a Folk Rock album. Folk, yes, but hardly Rock. They were still without a drummer at this point and the electric guitar, when it is present at all, has a rather crappy sound. The production is also not quite as it should be, it is rather weak, in fact.

The songs themselves are often good, but there are some less than successful moments. One Misty Moisty Morning and Alison Gross are among the best ones even if I think that the latter is a bit repetitive and would be better with drums.

The conclusion could only be that this is a promising but not quite successful album. I would not recommend anyone to start their investigation of Steeleye Span with this album even if it has its moments. It is much better to start with Now We Are Six or even better with Commoner's Crown.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The Below the Salt lineup of Steeleye Span returned the next year to unleash Parcel of Rogues on the world (wrapped in some of the most boring album artwork I have ever seen!). The musical style is more or less in line with what we'd heard already on Below the Salt - electric folk with medieval stlyings - though it doesn't feel quite as fresh as Below the Salt, almost as though it's a collection of songs that didn't make the cut for that album. Still, "not quite as good as Below the Salt" is still quite good as far as this style of British not-very-rocky folk rock goes.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Good album from this classic traditional folk band. "Parcel Of Rogues" is accessible and enjoyable with some really cheerful songs, such as the elegant "One Misty Moisty Morning". In my opinion the wah-wah guitar works very well here, adding an interesting dimension to the music. Electric folk ... (read more)

Report this review (#628963) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Thursday, February 9, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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