I first stumbled onto Steeleye Span via their classic 1973 recording, A Parcel Of Rogues. One of the band’s greatest strengths is its ability to adroitly interweave traditional British folk music while maintaining a rock and roll edge. Since the mid-70s, various incarnations of Steeleye have come and gone, with vocalist Maddy Prior being the one constant in this on-and-off-again act.
Steeleye Span’s most recent release, 2006’s two-disc Bloody Men, came my way recently courtesy of Park Records, and it’s been a tough one to pull from the CD player. From the start, the album crackles with energy as Peter Knight’s octave violin lines race along with the bawdy “Bonny Black Hare.” The songs teem with melody, from the gentle “The Story Of The Scullion King” and “Lord Elgin” to the dark and brooding “Demon Of The Well,” with formidable vocals from Prior.
Disc two is a short affair, but offers up the nifty five-part Ned Ludd saga, detailing the King of the Luddites and his movement’s struggles against the powers that be. It concludes a fine recording – a real surprise of a record if you haven’t heard this band recently.