Steeleye Span: Folk with a Rocky Edge

This post originally ran over on Sleeping Hedgehog which you really should visit after reading this post.

Come in! Leave your boots and anorak over by the roaring, rattlin’ fire! Yes, feet in stockings are common here…

I see that you noticed that the season has turned nasty in this North Atlantic city where our offices are. Hard not to, eh? We’re having lamb and potato stew, farmers cheese from Cornwall, fresh-baked wheat rolls, and spiced mulled cider for supper much later in the Estate dining room, so please stay and join us for it!

What I’m discussing today is a subject dear to my heart — Steeleye Span. Though many staffers here prefer Fairport Convention to this group, I prefer Steeleye Span in large part because there’s more of a dark edge to their music than that of the other group. And they have, as one reviewer here noted, ‘more lives than a cat… every so often the group seems to have called it a day, but, like a phoenix, they rise again.’

Steeleye of course has its centre in superb vocalist Maddy Prior whose sprit is I believe the same as that of the band. (I believe there is but one recording in which Gay Woods is vocalist in the absence of Maddy and the less said about that recording the better!) The rest of the superb group of musicians that have made up this group, which has varied radically over the years, has its early history told here.

We of course did a one-off on them which is well-worth reading and give you myriad ideas for where to start off with this group but if don’t you know this group, I strongly recommend that you start off with A Parcel of Steeleye Span. This triple disc set contains the entirety of their first five albums for Chrysalis, from 1972’s Below The Salt to 1975’s All Around My Hat with Parcel of Rogues, Commoners Crown, and Now We Are Six being the recordings in between. I think this is the very best of their many, many recordings.

Really there’s nothing save the Gay Woods album that isn’t worth hearing so get ready for really good English folk rock from the band that really created and maintained English folk rock in a true FHL (Faster Harder Louder) fashion for more than forty years now!

You want to know my favourite song by them? See them playing it here.

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