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Steeleye Span

Steeleye Span is a British folk band that has been active since 1970 (see 1970 in music. The band has undergone a couple of hiatuses and a great many personnel changes, but has maintained a strong continuity of tradition throughout.

The band is named after a character in the traditional song "Horkstow Grange", which they did not finally record until they released an album by that name in 1998 (see 1998 in music).

Steeleye Span's first album, Hark! The Village Wait (1970]) is fairly conventional folk music for the time. However, by the time they had released their fourth album, Below the Salt, in 1972, they had settled on a distinctive electrified Rock sound, although they continued to play mostly very old material. Their line-up has generally been that of a conventional rock band -- an electric guitar, electric bass, and drum kit -- supplemented by a fiddle and fronted by a female vocalist for most of their songs. During one of the many personnel changes there was a substitution of an accordion for the fiddle.

Their typical album is a collection of mostly traditional songs with one or two instrumental tracks of jigs and/or reels added in. In their later albums there has been an increased tendency to include music written by the band members, but they have never gotten completely away from the traditional music, which draws upon both the English and the Celtic traditions.

All of their LP-era recordings have now been re-released on CD by the Shanadie label, and can be found in the Folk section of the larger music stores.

They also put on a very good live performance, now mostly in small venues, and seem to have developed a tradition of two short encores. The final encore often being "Gaudete", a Latin religious song, which is an unusual ending for a non-classical modern concert.

Recommended:

  • 1970 Hark! The Village Wait
  • 1972 Below the Salt
  • 1973 Parcel of Rogues
  • 1975 All Around My Hat
  • 1980 Sails of Silver
  • 1989 Tempted and Tried
  • 1996 Time
  • and many others...



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