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STEELEYE SPAN

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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Steeleye Span picture
Steeleye Span biography
"Steeleye Span is like a bus. It goes along and people get on and off it. Sometimes the bus goes along the route you want to go, and sometimes it turns off, so you get off." -- Maddy Prior

As one of the two most important bands to blend traditional British folk musics and rock - the other being the legendary Fairport Convention - STEELEYE SPAN represented both the revival of this music in Britain and its ventures into contemporary times. Completely authentic but with a modern spark their peers never quite matched, the ensemble's development was one of the most evolving in popular music.

By 1969, an electrically charged Folk scene had fully emerged in England. That year after a road accident in which their drummer was killed, singer Sandy DENNY and FAIRPORT CONVENTION recorded 'Liege and Lief', a project led by bassist Ashley HUTCHINGS and Richard THOMPSON's startling electric guitar. The album would influence an entire movement though the group was divided about this direction and split, FC proceeding without HUTCHINGS or DENNY. Ashley HUTCHINGS carried on and after a good first rehearsal with established Folk duo Maddy PRIOR & Tim HART and husband and wife team Terry & Gay WOODS, a first incarnation recorded STEELEYE SPAN's [the group's name is taken from a character in Lincolnshire ballad 'Horkstow Grange'] debut in 1970, 'Hark! The Village Wait'. Comprised of trad. Folk with the added dimension of HUTCHINGS's bass and guest drummers Gerry CONWAY and Dave MATTACKS, the album is also noted for the dual female vocals of PRIOR and WOODS. Terry and Gay WOODS were replaced that year by veteran guitarist/singer Martin CARTHY and violinist Peter KNIGHT. This line-up recorded 'Please to See the King' (1971) and 'Ten Man Mop, or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again' (1972), LPs unique in their use of hard rock colors.

By late 1972, CARTHY and founder HUTCHINGS left to pursue more purist Folk avenues. Guitarist Bob JOHNSON and bassist Rick KEMP were brought in and provided an expanded hard-blues sound to Steeleye, and the group secured a new contract with Chrysalis which released their fourth, 'Below the Salt' in late '72. Further cultivating electric blues but always showcasing traditional Celtic and folk, some numbers dating back over a hundred years, 1973's 'Parcel of Rogues' was released and later that year the band drafted rock drummer Nigel PEGRUM [GNIDROLOG,URIAH HEEP,SMALL FACES]. Having supported fellow Chrysalis act JETHR...
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Buy STEELEYE SPAN Music


Est'd 1969Est'd 1969
Park Records 2019
$24.49
$22.25 (used)
Another Parcel of Steeleye SpanAnother Parcel of Steeleye Span
EMI IMPORT 2010
$43.65
$76.10 (used)
Steeleye Span : Parcel of Steeleye SpanSteeleye Span : Parcel of Steeleye Span
EMI Import 2009
$120.00 (used)
Live At De Montfort Hall Leicester 1977Live At De Montfort Hall Leicester 1977
Angel Air 2019
$10.86
$8.28 (used)
TimeTime
Shanchie Records 1996
$13.76
$1.93 (used)
All Around My HatAll Around My Hat
Shanachie 2007
$27.71 (used)
Dodgy BastardsDodgy Bastards
Park Records 2016
$13.13
$19.10 (used)
Lark in the MorningLark in the Morning
Extra tracks
Castle Music Uk 2003
$8.67
$10.93 (used)
Original MastersOriginal Masters
Remastered
Bgo - Beat Goes on 2002
$199.98
$14.96 (used)
Hark the Village WaitHark the Village Wait
Remastered
Ume Imports 2006
$6.66
$5.05 (used)

More places to buy STEELEYE SPAN music online Buy STEELEYE SPAN & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

STEELEYE SPAN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

STEELEYE SPAN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.86 | 51 ratings
Hark! The Village Wait
1970
3.03 | 32 ratings
Please To See The King
1971
2.97 | 32 ratings
Ten Map Mop Or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again
1971
3.71 | 45 ratings
Below The Salt
1972
3.58 | 38 ratings
Parcel Of Rogues
1973
3.35 | 39 ratings
Now We Are Six
1974
3.18 | 33 ratings
Commoners Crown
1975
3.17 | 32 ratings
All Around My Hat
1975
3.54 | 27 ratings
Rocket Cottage
1976
3.45 | 19 ratings
Storm Force Ten
1977
2.23 | 11 ratings
Sails Of Silver
1980
2.56 | 7 ratings
Back In Line
1986
3.47 | 11 ratings
Tempted And Tried
1989
3.83 | 11 ratings
Time
1996
3.04 | 5 ratings
Horkstow Grange
1999
3.51 | 7 ratings
Bedlam Born
2000
3.55 | 9 ratings
They Called Her Babylon
2004
3.04 | 5 ratings
Winter
2004
3.15 | 8 ratings
Bloody Men
2006
3.13 | 7 ratings
Cogs, Wheels And Lovers
2009
3.23 | 6 ratings
Wintersmith
2013
5.00 | 3 ratings
Dodgy Bastards
2016
0.00 | 0 ratings
Est'd 1969
2019

STEELEYE SPAN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.14 | 11 ratings
Live at Last
1978
4.00 | 2 ratings
Tonight's The Night, Live!
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
Concert
1995
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Journey
2001
0.00 | 0 ratings
Folk Rock Pioneers In Concert
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Now We Are Six Again
2012

STEELEYE SPAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Classic Rock Legends
2001
0.00 | 0 ratings
The 35th Anniversary World Tour 2004
2005

STEELEYE SPAN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 4 ratings
Steeleye Span
1980
2.61 | 4 ratings
Portfolio
1988
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Collection
1991
2.17 | 4 ratings
Spanning the Years
1995
3.05 | 3 ratings
A stack of Steeleye Span
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
First Steps
2001
4.04 | 4 ratings
The Lark In The Morning - The Early Years
2003
3.14 | 3 ratings
A Parcel of Steeleye Span - Their First Five Chrysalis Albums 1972-1975
2009

STEELEYE SPAN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.03 | 4 ratings
Gaudete
1972
3.00 | 3 ratings
Fighting for Strangers
1976

STEELEYE SPAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Storm Force Ten by STEELEYE SPAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.45 | 19 ratings

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Storm Force Ten
Steeleye Span Prog Related

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

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.

 Time by STEELEYE SPAN album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.83 | 11 ratings

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Time
Steeleye Span Prog Related

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars After 7 years without touring, Steeleye Span started a 25th anniversary tour. "Time", the band's 14th album, was recorded and released in response to the tour. Vocalist Maddie Prior was experiencing vocal issues and asked original member Gay Woods to rejoin the band to help with vocal duties, which she did after a lot of coaxing since she hadn't sung for quite a while and didn't feel ready. Fortunately, for fans and music lovers, this sparked a new interest in the band and also a series of new albums to follow. Prior would end up leaving the band after the albums release and tour, however, and Woods would become the lead female vocalist.

"The Prickly Bush" is a take on an old traditional song "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" which is where the song "Gallows Pole" comes from, which is a popular cover by LZ on the Led Zeppelin III album, and Steeleye Span does an excellent job with this song, great harmonies and instrumentation, making it revelant. You should recognize the Gallows Pole melody on this track. "Old Maid in the Garrett / Tam Lin Reel" combines two songs of Irish tradition. The first has vocals shared by Prior and Woods while the second part is mostly an instrumental reel or dance led by violins.

"Harvest of the Moon" is a catchy, lilting number based on a folk song to a pagan Goddess. On "Underneath Her Apron", we have an example of the lower register that Prior was using on this album because of issues she was having with her voice. "The Cutty Wren" had been done in part by the band on the song "The King" on a previous album, but this one is a much darker and experimental version with a dark drone and complex harmonies and vocal placement on this brilliant version. "Go From My Window" has a more contemporary feeling to it, but of course, retains its folkish sense. It is based on the traditional song "One Night As I Lay on My Bed" and has a nice guitar solo reminiscent of Mark Knopfler.

"The Elf Knight" is obviously darker and in a minor key. It is based upon a song cycle of ballads named "Lady Isabel and The Elf Knight" which has quite a dark story line, hence the reason for the dark feel. The first half of the track features the vocals while the 2nd half features a long and lovely instrumental section before it returns to the final verse, led mostly by violin. "The Water is Wide" is based on a Scottish song from the 1600s of the same name. There have been many renditions and versions of this song. This has a long instrumental introduction led mostly by the violin, starting out improvising on the theme, before playing the theme through, all before the vocals start. After a soft verse, the guitar takes the theme and turns it into a beautiful solo which the violin joins later making it into a heartfelt song of longing. The weakness of Prior's voice is evident at the end of this track, but it doesn't weaken the song, but shows an effective vulnerability.

"You Will Burn" is disturbing track about purification of the spirit by fire, torture and death. This is an example of the joyous songs the Christians used to sing about forgiveness through the purging of evil unbelievers. "Corbies" is a new version of "Twa Corbies" from the band's debut album. The song comes from the traditional song "Three Ravens" about some ravens discussing making lunch of a dead knight. "The Song Will Remain" is the final track of this album. This is another lush and slow ballad that has some excellent harmonies and a more contemporary style.

This album marked a new beginning for the band as over the last 16 years, only 3 studio albums were released, while afterwards, the band released a new album every two years for a period. The album definitely shows a marked improvement over the last few albums, with a nice lushness, a touch of darkness, and a renewed sense of believability. The album is quite enjoyable and does not stray far from the folk elements, but the few times it does, it is done with remarkable taste and style. This is definitely one of the better albums from the latter years of the band.

 A Parcel of Steeleye Span - Their First Five Chrysalis Albums 1972-1975 by STEELEYE SPAN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2009
3.14 | 3 ratings

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A Parcel of Steeleye Span - Their First Five Chrysalis Albums 1972-1975
Steeleye Span Prog Related

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The first review for this 3-cd set containing five subsequent STEELEYE SPAN studio albums from the timeline 1972 -- 1975. The first of them, Below the Salt, was already the fifth album of this legendary British folk rock group. It marked not only their move to new label Chrysalis but also changes in the line-up (guitarist Bob Johnson and bassist Rick Kemp replacing Martin Carthy and Ashley Hutchings), and the beginning of the classic era -- and bigger success. Their sound matured at this point, and also vocals of Maddy Prior had never sounded better. Nine tracks of Below the Salt, all being traditional tunes, include e.g. 'John Barleycorn' that was made famous by Traffic two years earlier. 'Rosebud in June' is very good as an a cappella performance from the group, and their version of the Medieval Latin-language song 'Gaudete' even entered the charts. Both sides of the single are featured here, 'The Holly and the Ivy' being a non-album track.

With traditional material still remaining in focus, the following albums saw the band's style getting rockier. Parcel of Rogues (1973; divided into discs 1 and 2) adds more electric guitar and thus resembles Fairport Convention's seminal Liege & Lief (1969), and Now We Are Six (1974) introduced drummer Nigel Pegrum in the line-up. He not only brought stronger beat but also played some oboe, flute and recorder. Ian Anderson credited as a production consultant, this is the favourite for many prog listeners, despite a couple of weak tracks (such as 'To Know Him Is to Love Him' featuring David Bowie on alto sax!). The 2nd disc of this set ends with a bonus non-album (?) live track from 1974, 'The Wife of Ushers Well'.

The 3rd disc features the albums Commoners Crown and All Around My Hat (both from 1975). Now Steeleye Span was a full- fledged rock group with heavy riffs. On Commoners Crown, worth mentioning is 'Bach Goes to Limerick' that mixes J. S. Bach with traditional Irish music. All Around My Hat, with the well-known title hit, was produced by Mike Batt and is the band's best- selling and the rockiest album.

This set is well worth having if you're interested in this essential folk rock band but aren't a dedicated collector who wants to own the albums separately. The 8-page booklet doesn't have an essay on the band but features the album covers & informations plus three band photos.

 Now We Are Six by STEELEYE SPAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.35 | 39 ratings

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Now We Are Six
Steeleye Span Prog Related

Review by britfolkgod

4 stars At this phase in their career, Steeleye Span, after a two-album dalliance with a pair of bona fide rock musicians (guitarist Bob Johnson and bassist Rick Kemp, who was formerly one of Bowie's "Spider from Mars" - his receding hairline cost him the job), moved to the next logical step in energizing their sound further, and so drummer Nigel Pegrum was added to the fold, and this addition is reflected in the album's title (which referred not just to the number of personnel but the number of albums to their credit at this point).

They had started as "electric folk" - not really intending to be a rock band at all, but the personnel changes as much as anything else seemed to push them in the rock direction, and on this album they sound for the first time like a rock band turning towards folk rather than vice versa. The results showed what was possible, but a few tracks frustratingly took a novelty approach and it wasn't until their next album that they showed a fully "serious" album.

The three tracks in question are "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (yes, THAT Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) whose inclusion is valid in the sense that it is the oldest and purest traditional song in the world - "rocking up" a track like this would scarcely have been possible though, and so the band pretended to be children singing it to the accompaniment of a piano. Rather pointless, but at least blessedly short. The second offending track, "Now We Are Six" was a collection of riddles set to the same accompaniment again, just a single piano. Unfortunately it was also longer and chewed up a lot of real estate on an album that really should have been showcasing the band's new vitality.

Thirdly, "To Know Him Is To Love Him", the old 50s standard, is done here with David Bowie guesting on saxophone. It's worth hearing once but its inclusion with a group of songs that come from Britain's folk heritage makes (at least on the surface) very little sense. It's only when you know of the band's "rock and roll encore" they did around this period that it's understandable - the band would don 50s attire and do a set of rock standards for their encore during this period.

So three tracks mar the album but that still leaves a tremendous amount of excellent music to listen to. "Seven Hundred Elves" incorporates not just drums but also a synthesizer; "Drink Down the Moon" showcases the new drummer's abilities on oboe (he would also contribute flute parts occasionally); and "Thomas the Rhymer" is for many people the quintessential Steeleye track with its zinging acoustic guitars propelling the electric power chords and irresistible chorus sung in the band's glorious 5-part harmony. This was something new and something exciting. Steeleye Span also knew traditional music very well so often knew the best versions of the songs to use, and they were now showing themselves to be the hardest-rocking of all the British folk rockers at this time as well.

Part of my decision to review this album comes down to the unfair drubbing I have seen of the instrumental "Mooncoin Jig". If a traditional Irish jig isn't your cup of tea, hear me out - this ISN'T simply a case of "you've heard one Irish jig, you've heard them all" and here's why. This is the sound, and the utterly masterful sound, of folk music and rock music in perfect balance, with neither style overshadowing the other. Peter Knight plays mandolin and banjo and Tim Hart provides electric dulcimer, so there is the folk element - but the rest of the band is dishing out power chords and a very individualistic bass line; think of Roger Waters on Pink Floyd's "One of These Days" to get the idea of the rhythmic vitality at work here. Also, this isn't simply a tune being repeated ad infinitum, instruments peel in and out and on the final verse a set of spoons (of all things) clatters away, in no way eclipsed by the heavy drumming. This track is a masterpiece, and needs to be heard in this context.

There is an air of experimentation on this album that is quite palpable too; on "Edwin" we have Maddy Prior doing a multitracked whisper alongside her faraway vocal track. Effects like these lend a real dramatic quality to the murder ballads and bring the stories to life. These songs have lasted hundreds of years, and Steeleye Span wants to show you why.

This isn't my favorite Steeleye Span album, but it's up there - it's the one that shows them having fully matured and able to match most rock bands pound for pound in the rocking out department, and is a delight and an excellent starting place for those interested in what they have to offer.

 Hark! The Village Wait by STEELEYE SPAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.86 | 51 ratings

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Hark! The Village Wait
Steeleye Span Prog Related

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is Steeleye Span's debut abum consisting of "rock" arrangements of 10 traditional songs including the much covered and renowned "The Blacksmith" (3:40), "Blackleg Miner" (2:45) The album is remarkable for multi-instrumentalist Tim HART's contributions of banjo, electric guitar, dulcimer, fiddle and harmonium with other traditional folk instruments (mandola, concertina, autoharp, acoustic guitars) over a foundation of drums, electric bass and gently picked electric guitar. Also notable are the presence of two female vocalists, Gay Woods and Maddy Prior--the former of whom would break off after this album to form a new band with her husband, Terry, called The Woods Band. The instances in which the two female leads sing together are quite magical. The pacing on the album is quite constant and slow, like a slow dance, and much of the music sounds familiar to Americans in a YOUNGBLOODS or CROSBY, STILLS & NASH way. This is an awesome album of electrified folk music.

1. "A Calling-On Song" (1:12) a cappella folk harmonies; folk perfection. (5/5)

2. "The Blacksmith" (3:40) rock instruments expand upon the usual arrangements of this traditional classic. Maddy Prior has THE classic folk voice. (8.5/10)

3. "Fisherman's Wife" (3:14) Gay Woods in the lead vocal of this rather dull, droning song. Even the musicianship is sloppy and lackluster. (7/10)

4. "Blackleg Miner" (2:47) Tim Hart and what sounds like Gay Woods in dual harmonized vocals for the opening while Tim takes sole possession of the lead thereafter. Nice steady banjo work from Terry Woods. (8.25/10)

5. "Dark-Eyed Sailor" (5:58) an electrified rock format, this song has my favorite blend of instrumental palette on the album, with some really nice vocal arrangements as well. (8.75/10)

6. "Copshawholme Fair" (2:34) the music on this one gives the song an awesome tension to augment the story being told by Maddy Prior. Also, there are "parts" to this song (with the brief instrumental outro). (9.25/10)

7. "All Things Are Quite Silent" (2:39) slow tempo, simple instrumental backing for a very special vocal (with great background harmonies in the chorus sections). A top three song for me. (10/10)

8. "The Hills Of Greenmore" (4:01) opens like a sea shanty with a male lead vocal (solo through the majority of the song). Classic folk tune very tightly performed. (9/10)

9. "My Johnny Was A Shoemaker" (1:11) another a cappella song with excitingly complex vocal arrangements. (5/5)

10. "Lowlands Of Holland" (6:00) with Terry Woods in the lead we get another flawless rendering of a traditional folk classic. Great instrumental support and fills. (9.5/10)

11. "Twa Corbies" (2:06) opens with full band a cappella vocal arrangement. Bass, harmonium and cymbal play join in during the second verse with electric guitar chord strums added thereafter. (9/10)

12. "One Night As I Lay On My Bed" (3:30) electric guitar and banjo with full support of laid back rhythm section play a syncopated kind of foundation while the ladies sing the lead in tandem. Great song. (9.5/10)

Total time 38:52

An album of very polished, very professional renderings of traditional folk classics performed by some of the all-around best folk musicians Britain ever put out.

4.5 stars; this classic of folk and Prog Folk music is a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music marred by the blemish of one lackluster song.

 Ten Map Mop Or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again by STEELEYE SPAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.97 | 32 ratings

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Ten Map Mop Or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again
Steeleye Span Prog Related

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Wintersmith by STEELEYE SPAN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.23 | 6 ratings

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Wintersmith
Steeleye Span Prog Related

Review by SteveG

4 stars This is definitely an album that I have tried to play in the summer time with poor results. It's not because the album is bad. It's just too damn wintery in feel which makes it perfect for early December and the rest of the cold snowy season.

The Wintersmith, released last year (2013) is a collaboration between Steeleye and Discworld series author Terry Pratchett. Pratchett is the million selling author of young people's fantasy stories that are on par with the Harry Potter series of fantacies, just to give you an idea of what your in for.

Prattchett wrote the lyrics of Wintersmith, based on his novel of the same name, which deals with one of the seasons of nature , winter, taking on a corporeal form and falling for a village girl named Tiffany.

First off, I would have to say that between this concept and the folk hard rock fusion of the music, combined with trad. instruments like Northumbrian pipes, this is the most progressive outing from Steeleye Span that I've ever encountered and that was an unexpected delight.

The band drafted in uber producer Chris Tsanderides to engineer the album while Steeleye are still the producers. This helped to tone down Tsanderides' often shrill sounding production and resulted in an excellently heavy, but not overdone, rhythm section and some louder and more piercing electric guitar. it's not Deep Purple meets Fairport as some reviewers have made it out to be, but it is highly effective and a refreshing sound change for the band.

As the Wintersmith himself is a character, bassist Rick Kemp and guitarist Julian Littman alternate vocals with the evergreen Maddy Prior. I wish Maddy sang a bit more on this album but she is the incarnation of the heroine Tiffany, so it has to be. Kemp and Littman are both excellent vocalists, so fear not.

The album grabs you immediately with the Dark Morris song, a preview of the musical themes to come, before jumping in the brooding title track Wintersmith which teases with little telltale traces of the musical nuances that this album will soon offer and features the first of many great lead vocals from Kemp. Featured prominently is the Celtic tinged fiddle of 4 decade member Peter Knight, who more than anyone else, evokes a feel of the forest and the smell of pine into this music. The other member of note is long time drummer Liam Genocky, who pulls a few surprises with his deft drum work and percussion work.

Prior does her best "Annie Haslam' sweet sounding vocals on the songs Band Of Teachers and Hiver before both she and Kemp launch into the astoundingly propulsive Fire And Ice. Their vocal harmonies, along with Littman's, on the song's fantastic chorus is one of the album's many highlights.

After listening to the anthemic Crown Of Ice and the beautiful ballad First Dance, were off to the instrumental Dark Morris tune that sounds both maniacal and melodious at the same time. A virtual dance into the Wintersmith's dark cold world.

There are two beautiful ballads on this album, First Dance , elegantly sung by Prior, and the albums closer (when the Wintersmith eventually recedes due to on coming springtime) titled we Shall Wear Midnight. I believe the last is sung by Littman and instead of Kemp, but I'm not sure as it's still performed beautifully.

The album does have a few clunkers that drag out the running time like Wee Fee Men and the fairytale like The Good Witch, but all in all, it's a terrific album and one of the best ever produced by Steeleye Span. 4 Stars and I highly recommend it to fans of Folk Prog, especially to fans of both the Strawbs, Fairport Convention and Horslips. And remember, winter goes by quickly, so get it now.

 Parcel Of Rogues by STEELEYE SPAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.58 | 38 ratings

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Parcel Of Rogues
Steeleye Span Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.
 Wintersmith by STEELEYE SPAN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.23 | 6 ratings

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Wintersmith
Steeleye Span Prog Related

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Steeleye Span + Terry Pratchett = true

Wintersmith is a conceptual album based around some novels by well-known fantasy author Terry Pratchett. What is less well-known--at least it was news to me--is the fact that Pratchett is a long-standing fan of Steeleye Span and a personal friend of the members of the band. As is clearly written on the cover, Pratchett even participated in the making of this album. Though, his precise role in the proceedings is somewhat unclear to me (is it him doing the spoken word section in The Good Witch?). Clear is at least that the songs are based around themes from Pratchett's writings, specifically the novels featuring the Tiffany Aching character (which I haven't read, but I've read a few others of Pratchett's many books).

Putting music to Pratchett's Discworld has been done before by Dave Greenslade with moderate success. Steeleye Span is more successful. The imagery of Pratchett and the inventive Folk Rock of Steeley Span is a very good combination and it seems that the band gained in inspiration from working with a conceptual theme. This is one of those albums that are instantly likeable. The songs are catchy and easy to get into. There is a nice variation in tempos, instruments (they even dusted off the old saxophone and add some pipes & whistles) and vocals (male and female), but the songs are not overly progressive. The typical sound of the band, and the distinctive voice of Maddy Prior, is unmistakable and this album is in their trademark style. A fun and enjoyable listen. It is not however up to par with such strong latter-day Steeleye Span albums as They Called Her Babylon and Time.

This album is recommended for fans of both the band and the author. Now I feel like reading some Pratchett (a great man who sadly is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease).

 Wintersmith by STEELEYE SPAN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.23 | 6 ratings

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Wintersmith
Steeleye Span Prog Related

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars Steeleye Span is one of my favourite band and it has been in for approximately eight years. "Wintersmith" is their twentyfirst studio record of which I haven't heard everyone. 1970-1978 was their best time of music fantasy but I have also heard very good stuff from them of later years. "They called her Babylon" is perhaps a 4/5-record and I also thought their last record of 2009 was pleasant. What's so fantastic is that the band is quite intact (in form of line up) with Maddy Prior on vocals, Rick Kemp on bass and vocals, Peter Knight om violin, vocals and piano, Liam Genockey on drums and percussion, Julian Littman on guitar, vocals and piano and Peter Zorn on guitar, saxophone and vocals. This record is a cooperation with the auther Terry Pratchett.

Steeleye Span is an always going train of folk rock music, just like Fairport Convention. When FC lost the most of its interest in the early seventies SS continued with their special sound and to be honest this latest effort "Wintersmith" is quite progressive. I feel like Steeleye Span here has done a different record and tried new approaches to their music. Then of course it's hard to find the I my mind known Steeleye style in these songs.

The record is mystic and has many interesting songs. It seems to be a concept record and in some songs they're going back to old themes such in "The Good Witch"(7/10) with lovely Maddy Prior vocals in the beginning in a melody which sounds very "Steeleyeish". The album's best songs are the title track "Wintersmith"(8,5/10) whish is of different kind. Just like Alison Gross, that song takes a new direction of folk rock and I love it, and "Band of Teachers"(8,5/10), also a lovely song. Some more tracks are worth mentioning: "The Wee Free Man"(8/10) is short and contains typical folky Steeleye harmonies, "Fire & ice"(8/10) contains perfect male and female voices and "The Summer Lady"(8/10) is also a lovely track. Beside of these tracks the album contains many nice songs but they don't interest me much.

Though do I lack very strong tracks such as on "They called her Babylon" and the album has too many okey songs. I absolutely appreciate the vocals both of Maddy Prior and of course of Rick Kemp. With 2013 over all music, this is certainly a 4/5-star record and I would consider it high standard music. Though must I review it as a Steeleye Span record, then is such a high rating unfair. 3,5 would have been the best, in their discography I feel comfortable with three stars.

Thanks to Atavachron for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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