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Steeleye Span - Below the Salt CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


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3.66 | 54 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars Below the Rock

While this was the fourth Steeleye Span album, it is the earliest one of theirs that I have (so far) heard. In my opinion the band still had a long way to go at this point until they started to make any kind of music that might be called Prog Folk or even Folk Rock, but the seeds of what was to come can be found already here. On the three albums following the present one, new and exciting elements would be added with each subsequent album constituting a clear "progression" from pure traditional Folk to Folk Rock and towards Prog Folk. The only Rock element found on Below The Salt is the presence of electric guitar, apart from that this is rather traditional and not many Prog fans will find this very exciting. On the following albums they would add further Rock elements including Rock drums, piano, woodwinds and even synthesisers while also expanding their versions of traditional material giving them more adventurous arrangements. The great King Henry is here the strongest indicator of the progressive side the band would develop on future albums like Now We Are Six and Commoner's Crown (and continue in the late 70's, 80's, 90's and 2000's).

The vocals - both lead and harmony vocals - were excellent already here and quite sophisticated vocal arrangements can be found here. While strong vocals were always a hallmark of the band, I feel that Below The Salt is too much of a vocal album with many a cappella moments, most notably the "hit" Gaudete. One problem with this early sound of Steeleye Span is the rather crappy sounding electric guitar. It is clear that they were not skilled on that archetypal and near essential Rock instrument. The electric guitar sound would be much improved on future albums and the whole production too would be much improved. The songs themselves are often good, but there are some less than successful moments.

Below The Salt is certainly a decent addition to any Folk Rock collection, but Steeleye Span's best and most progressive albums were still ahead of them at this time. This is thus not the best place to start investigating this great band.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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