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Steeleye Span - A Parcel of Steeleye Span - Their First Five Chrysalis Albums 1972-1975 CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


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3.14 | 3 ratings

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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.

Matti | 3/5 |


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