Thursday, June 9, 2011

Steeleye Span; not so much

Ah - the forgettable Steeleye Span.  This is a compliation, double-record album.  To me, they sound like a cross between Jethro Tull with a female lead singer stuck on a rickety tour bus crammed in with various members of The Cheiftains.  But tells us that this album is an excellent compilation of the first nine albums from one of the "most respected and revered" British folk-rock bands ever.  Despite numerous personnel changes, Steeleye Span  retained a readily identifiable sound built around folk-based instrumentation and the distinctive vocals of yes - Maddy Prior.  Beginning with amplified traditional songs, the group later adopted a more rock-oriented approach that attempted, often successfully, to stretch the boundaries of British folk music while still respecting and holding onto its roots. One of the best songs from the early years is "Lovely on the Water," which beautifully showcases the spirit and dignity of Prior's voice. Among the band's first successful experiments was "Gaudete," an a cappella Latin chant that somehow made the British charts. "Alison Gross" used loud power chords to give the impression of an all-out rock approach, and "Fighting for Strangers" used percussion to give an almost abstract atmosphere to the recording, something not expected from a band that started out as very traditional. Whether singing songs about romance, elves, violent upheavals, or witches, Steeleye Span successfully expanded the boundaries of British folk. Though longtime fans may prefer the individual albums, this is a fine introduction to the most creative period in the group's history.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting!