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Steeleye Span - Rocket Cottage CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


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3.54 | 27 ratings

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4 stars As the 1970s proceeded, Steeleye Span became more rock-folk than folk-rock, adding ever denser bass, drums and rhythm guitars and a more aggressive attitude. Yet even by this late stage, they held steadfast to their goal of bringing traditional songs and dances to life. Unfortunately, the whole pop music world had changed drastically just in the year since the hugely successful "All Around my Hat", and it seemed there was no longer much market for music of Steeleye's ilk. As a result, although "Rocket Cottage" is a superb hard folk effort, and more consistent than its predecessor, it seems to have been largely ignored.

While "London" has as strong a pedigree as anything the group has done, I don't find the sing songy style working as well for Steeleye at this stage. Instead, "Orfeo/Nathan's Reel" and "The Brown Girl" have a greater impact, with more incorporation of lighter progressive elements in the form of changes of pace and alternating moods and instrumentation. In addition, the band's choice of traditional material has been fine tuned at this point, as well as their ability to match the appropriate vocalist to the material, rendering "The Twelve Witches" and "Sir James the Rose" among Tim Hart's best contributions as member, ably backed by Maddy on the chorus of the latter. The listener really wants to know the peculiar powers of each of the twelve witches and the gory fate of Sir James. In the instrumental department, "Sligo Maid" is miles ahead of the mostly tepid and rote work we've seen on prior recordings, with driving electric guitar and fiddle working in unison, and syncopated bass and drums. Sure one can hear the influence of the disco era in the wah wah guitars, but when have we heard them with cascading fiddles and a traditional Irish tune that gets stuck in your head for days?

While it may not have a catchy "hit" like "All Around my Hat", "Rocket Cottage" is fueled by greater energy and enthusiasm and may be of more interest to fans here simply for its punchier approach and small "p" progressive arrangements.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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