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Steeleye Span - Folk Rock Pioneers in Concert

Steeleye Span - Folk Rock Pioneers in Concert
Park Records PRKCD89

I was a huge fan of the early Steeleye Spans. I bought the first six albums and caught them on stage as often as I was able, so I pleased to catch up with them via Alan Murray's informative article in TLT 68. The catching up process is even better served by this great live 24-track double CD, mostly recorded at Southampton (extra tracks from Milton Keynes and Tewksbury) in 2004. They were obviously on blistering form, drawing material from early and late - Blackleg Miner and Four Nights Drunk from their very earliest albums to the title track of their latest studio work (They Called Her Babylon) - and everything in between, including All Around My Hat with the audience participating their socks off.

For me, the key is Maddy Prior. Whether stopping the heart with Mantle Of Green or raising the dead with Padstow, her vocal contributions are simply without equal. Instrumentally, Peter Knight's fiddle, Rick Kemp's bass, Liam Genockey's drums and the frankly fantastic electric guitar of newest recruit Ken Nichol succeed in ensuring that Steeleye's trademark power and glory rings undiminished down the decades.

The disappointments are triflingly small. There are no proper insert notes, only a large print "good old Steeleye" essay, and the instrumentals have no singing on them. In fact the drum solo has only drums on it, which is quite a big disappointment.

Steeleye have been leading from the front for all these years, and whilst they have not been infallible, the body of work that they have amassed, and the unique, instantly recognisable way that they have evolved of presenting it means that the album titlers have got it right - they are undeniably the pioneers of Folk-Rock. And they continue to provide the soundtrack to much of my life, for which I thank them most sincerely.

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 70 of The Living Tradition magazine.