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Steeleye Span - Below the Salt CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


Prog Related

3.66 | 54 ratings

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3 stars British folk rockers fourth album shows them honing their skills as well as drawing some classics from their countries folk tradition.

1. "Spotted Cow" (3:06) If ever there was a truer Engllish folk song please let me know it: singing about one's errant bovine seems so mundane it must be a common enough event to make a valid topic for a folk song--a song worth singing (obviously). (8.6667/10)

2. "Rose Bud In June" (3:41) very traditional English Folk. (8.5/10)

3. "Jigs: The Bride's Favorite, Tansey's Fancy" (3:10) a very traditional English Folk instrumental with some rock and country elements. (8.66667/10)

4. "Sheep-Crook And Black Dog" (4:44) brooding electric guitar strums the opening before Maddy enters, accompanied by a second electric guitar, electric bass, and violin. Kind of cool. Halfway the music takes a left turn with arpeggiated guitar chords and a more subdued vocal style coming from Ms. Prior. I don't know why the band fashioned this rather radical shift--unless it's due to an entirely different song being tagged onto the opener--but then the music shifts back to the original motif for the final minute. Odd! But interesting enough to make my top three. (8.75/10)

5. "Royal Forester" (4:33) a more-dance-oriented song with some lively singing from Ms. Prior. The electric bass is too far forward while the annoyingly distorted electric guitar strumming is way back. Then, after the first verse and chorus, the electric instruments balance themselves in the foreground while Maddy dances along. I like the multi-voice vocal arrangement for the next chorus in the middle section. (8.75/10)

6. "King Henry" (7:09) A long story that suffers from the too-forward annoying bass play but is made interesting from the crazed violin and lead electric guitar play. (13/15)

7. "Gaudette" (2:25) an all-vocal performance in the ancient church traditions. Very cool effect of slowly fading in as if the troupe was coming up a street toward the listener. A top three song. (5/5)

8. "John Barleycorn" (4:48) Steeleye Span's take on a traditional English folk tale. This is surprisingly upbeat and loose-- like a late night drinking song--quite dissimilar to the interpretation made by fellow Brits, Traffic. I like Traffic's version better. (8.75/10)

9. "Saucy Sailor" (5:47) odd choice to give Maddy the lead vocal on a sea shanty--but then, this doesn't play out at all like a rollicking drunken sailors' song. The delicately played treated acoustic guitars and piano are quite interesting (though the bass is typicaly dull). My final top three song. (8.875/10)

Total time 39:23

A little more pure traditional English Folk fare than is my liking, I appreciate these skilled performers, I just prefer something a little more progressive or "proggy."

B/four stars; a recommended addition to any Prog Folk lover's music collection though not necessarily for the straight- laced prog rocker. I'm rating this down for this progressive rock music site.

BrufordFreak | 3/5 |


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