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Steeleye Span Storm Force Ten album cover
3.46 | 24 ratings | 5 reviews | 8% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Awake, Awake (5:07)
2. Sweep, Chimney Sweep (4:44)
3. The Wife of the Soldier (2:40)
4. The Victory (8:37)
5. The Black Freighter (from The Threepenny Opera) (5:59)
6. Some Rival (3:23)
7. Treadmill Song (6:11)
8. Seventeen Come Sunday (5:09)

Total Time 41:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Maddy Prior / vocals
- Tim Hart / vocals, guitar
- Martin Carthy / guitar, vocals
- John Kirkpatrick / accordion, vocals
- Rick Kemp / bass
- Nigel Pegrum / drums

- Mike Batt / synth (3,5) - not confirmed

Releases information

Artwork: Adrian Chesterman

LP Chrysalis ‎- CHR 1151 (1977, UK)

CD BGO Records ‎- BGOCD337 (1996, UK)

Thanks to zafreth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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STEELEYE SPAN Storm Force Ten ratings distribution

(24 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(54%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

STEELEYE SPAN Storm Force Ten reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars A very good, if not quite an outstanding album. Storm Force Ten marked the return of celebrated guitarrist Martin Carthy to the Steeleye Span fold, along with newcomer John Kirkpatrick (accordion, vocals). It was recorded almost ´live´ in the studio, with very few overdubbing, in just one week. The tracklist consisted basicly of the songs theyr were performing live during their last tour, right before they entered the Phonogram Studio, in Holland. To their traditional repertoir of english, scot and irish traditional songs, they added this time the Brech-Weil song The Black Freighter from their The ThreePenny Opera.

It was recorded in a time they were becoming too unfashionable (as any classic 70´s band, prog or otherwise), so it was greeted with very little acclaim. The band here seemed a little shaken and lacking the confidence they had on their previous albums. Nevertheless, it was a good album and showed again their absolute amazing talents both instrumental and vocal. Highlights are the opener Awake, Awake, the brilliant and long The Victory and the beautiful a capella Sweep, Chimmy, Sweep, while The Black Freighter showed their versatility, going beyond their ´safe ground´of traditional only songs.

Not as powerful as their previous albums (reflecting the changing of the times), it is however a fine display of their great musicanship.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Out with the fiddle, in with the accordion, and the return of a legend

Having held together for what was in Steeleye Span terms an eternity, the classic line up of the band finally came to an end in 1977 with the departure of Bob Johnson and Peter Knight. The two had initially been granted leave by the record company to work on a side project, but they simply did not return. Most significantly, this meant that the band were without a fiddle player for the first time since their debut.

On the plus side, the surprise return of the great Martin Carthy filled the lead guitar position perfectly. Carthy brought with him accordionist John Kirkpatrick, whom Carthy had unsuccessfully tried to introduce to the band when he had joined previously. It seems it was always recognised however that Carthy and Kilpatrick's participation in the band would be a temporary one.

The title refers in part at least to this being the band's tenth album. "Storm force ten" actually includes some fine prog folk material, including the wonderful 8˝ minute "The victory". This was in many ways one in the eye for those who abandoned the band as a result of "All around my hat", reassuring the faithful that Steeleye Span were still quite capable of complex arrangements, excellent instrumentation and outstanding vocal harmonies. "The victory" contains all of these in bucket loads, and must surely rate as the band's most under appreciated song.

Elsewhere on side one of the album, we have the slower but equally striking opener "Awake awake" and a couple the light vocal tracks "Sweep, Chimney Sweep" and "The Wife of the Soldier". "The Wife of the Soldier" and "The Black Freighter [From The Threepenny Opera]" are interesting as they are not traditional pieces but poems by early 20th century writer Bertolt Brecht set to music by Patrick John Scott and Kurt Weill respectively. Being extracted from a bona fide opera, "The black freighter" sounds rather different to the usual Steeleye Span fare. The presence of accordion and Maddy Prior's vocal style still offer a connection with folk, but there is no denying the operatic nature of the material.

"Some rival" is the most orthodox song here, Maddy delivering the simple melody through a beautiful vocal performance, accompanied by acoustic guitars. The multi-track harmonisation of Maddy voice and a peaceful flute solo only add to the appeal of this very old folk song. "Treadmill song" describes a device used in prisons as a form of punishment in the 19th century. The rhythm reflects the drudgery of walking upon the treadmill for hours on end, with drum raps suggesting the occasion flick of the whip to suppress any slacking. The album closes with " Seventeen Come Sunday", a song based on writings by Scottish poet Robert (Rabbie) Burns. This is as close as we get to a jig on the album, Kilpatrick's accordion playing being jaunty and spirited. The song tells the tale of a one night stand, the soldier deciding that "The fife and drum is my delight".

The constant presence of accordion in place of fiddle immediately gives this album a different flavour, even when the material is similar to that on previous albums. The ambitious nature of some of the tracks, the inclusion of the sublime "The victory" and the cod operatic "The black freighter" offer concrete reassurance that the band are not prepared to simply sit on their laurels, but are keen to continue to develop their music.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Steeleye Span's 10th album 'Storm Force Ten' was released in 1977. Two weeks later, the Sex Pistol's released the single 'Anarchy in the UK'. Steeleye Span had released 10 albums in 7 years, while Sex Pistols was just starting. Punk was becoming the music that would destroy progressive rock, or at least try to. At least, it shook it up for a while, if nothing else. However, the rise of the punk movement was one of the main reasons this album went unrecognized, and interestingly enough, it was one of Steeleye Spans most atypical records.

The band was in upheaval as Bob Johnson left with violinist Peter Knight and together, they worked on a concept album released under Johnson's name. Johnson and Knight would later return in 1980. Instead of replacing Peter with another violinist, Steeleye Span took a risk and hired John Kirkpatrick to replace him on accordion, thus making Storm Force Ten the only album in their discography to feature an accordion. The big positive here is the return of guitarist Martin Carthy to the band.

The album starts with 'Awake Awake' which is a traditional song derived from 'The Song of Solomon' from the Bible. Of course, the band puts their rock edge to this folk song with the song starting with the full band singing the chorus before the accordion comes in joined by drums. Maddy Prior sings the first part of each verse while the other members take turns singing the second half of the verse. 'Sweep, Chimney Sweep' is sung in harmony and a capella by the entire band all the way through. This is also a traditional song which was also sung a capella by the Copper Family considered the first family of English roots music.

'The Wife of the Soldier' is an anti-war song written by Bertolt Brecht, but this version uses a different melody than the original. A straightforward instrumental background supports Prior's vocals, and, again, the accordion takes the place of the violin. Martin Carthy sung this version on the album 'Byker Hill'. Next is the longest track 'The Victory', another traditional song first published in 1888. This version is given a great progressive treatment here with varying tempos and styles, and is one of the band's best long songs. It also is more adapted to the rock style than most of the other tracks on this album, less traditional sounding.

'The Black Freighter' is another Brcht song (also known as 'Pirate Jenny') and has been covered before by Judy Collins in the 60s. The words are about a fantasy entertained by a barmaid putting high and mighty men in their place. Again, the song takes on the progressive sound and some sassy guitar, while still retaining its folk roots. The remaining three tracks are all traditional songs. 'Some Rival' was previously also known as 'Some Tyrant' or 'A Rival Heart'. It is a very old love song sung again by Maddy with a much simpler sound as she is accompanied by acoustic guitars. 'Treadmill Song' is about the device used in English prisons to invoke hard labor long ago, not an exercise machine of yore, even though this song was originally written in 1906. The arrangement is quite well performed, rock spirit with the usual folk roots. 'Seventeen Come Sunday' is a song based on a version written by Robert Burns, the English bard. The song is otherwise known as 'As I Roved Out'. The real folk version of the song was quite ribald and the rewritten versions were tamed and censored. The folk sound is highly retained on this version.

This album should have not been so overlooked, but because of the timing of the release, it was overshadowed by the sudden increase in interest of the punk movement. It is one of the bands most enjoyable albums, carefree and fun. But, it has instead become quite forgotten in the bands repertoire. Steeleye Span would soon split after the release of this album and Maddy would quickly release a solo album. The band wouldn't release another album until 1980 with the return of both Bob Johnson and Peter Knight, though the band would also be quite shaken up for a while afterwards, and it would be hard pressed to release a satisfactory album for a while after. Lovers of Progressive Folk should however, give 'Storm Force Ten' a try before dismissing it as it was one more classic that sadly gets ignored.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Having reached explored as far into the "rock" side of the folk/rock borderlands as they ever would on Rocket Cottage, Storm Force Ten finds Steeleye Span charting a course back towards folk territory, with perhaps a snifter of sea shanties added into proceedings in keeping with album title and overall theme. Martin Carthy returned to the fold here, having hopped off the Span-wagon after Ten Man Pop, helping to give this a "back to basics" air, though it seems like Steeleye Span's voyages in rock territory have left them with some tricks up their sleeve - take, for instance, the somewhat progressively-inclined epic The Victory.
Review by kenethlevine
3 stars Exit, for the moment, Bob Johnson and Peter Knight, and substitute returning earlier member Martin Carthy and newbie John Kirkpatrick. The net effect is twofold: Martin Carthy was present for 2 of Steeleye's least distinguished outings in the early 1970s and his stodginess is here manifest once again, unfortunately in the long song format that suggests Steeleye, while obviously aware of their waning popularity, and no idea why or how to recover.

Luckily Kirkpatrick plays accordion, which means that fiddle has seeded to squeezebox as ethnic instrument of note, albeit only for this release and the subsequent "Live at Last". That does help to invigorate the best material here. Even if "The Victory" is 40% "Demon Lover", 40% "All Around my Hat", and only 20% noteworthy and "Awake Awake" isn't convincing as ballad or rocker, reflecting the band's new found clunkiness, "The Black Freighter" suggests that SPAN can rock more than just trad arranged material and send JUDY COLLINS into the corner to cry herself to sleep, "Treadmill Song"'s accordion and guitar interplay hint what might have been given more time, which sadly was not afforded, as it were, and closer "Seventeen Come Sunday" is actually fun.

It's a shame the band did not include a studio version of the incredible "Montrose" epic at this time, though the live rendition that was issued the next year remains a career highlight, while this isn't. Now we are storm force six?

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