Archive for the ‘Steeleye Span’ Category

Steeleye Span

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Listen: Hard Times Of Old England / Steeleye Span

I can completely understand why some folks found Maddy Prior’s voice grating. Never really noticed until now, all these years later. Sometimes I’m clearly asleep at the wheel. For instance, during the commercial heyday of southern rock, I couldn’t for the life of me get why the US was not into Roy Wood’s Wizzard or Sparks. So there you go.

Folk rock, as with jazz, seems allowed to deal themselves the occasional out of jail free card. In the case of a voice, there are plenty of folkies who get appreciated, where in any other genre, that same person would be considered unacceptable. The Incredible String Band or The Pentangle’s Jacqui McShee come to mind.

Whatever. ‘Hard Times Of Old England’ was a big favorite when current. I played the hell out of it on my college station, not exactly a fit in upsate New York.

Although the single was not a UK chart success, unlike some of Steeleye Span’s other releases, one would have thought it might turn into an anthem, ever present on pub jukeboxes across the land. A bit like The Strawbs‘ ‘Part Of The Union’.

The record certainly got embraced by the BBC heavily, the public just didn’t buy it.

Mellow Candle

Friday, April 30th, 2010

MellowCandle, Mellow Candle, David Hitchcock, Deram

Listen: Dan The Wing / Mellow Candle MellowCandle.mp3

Howard, Chris and I went to see the Ian Dury movie the other day. It was pretty great – the end bit got a touch depressing but the film certainly brought me right back to how absolutely stunning he and The Blockheads were on stage during their moments in the sun. Never realized Chaz Jankel was such a vital part of the band and songwriting until the credits rolled.

We had Indian lunch prior, and as usual, started digging into a whole lotta obscure record trivia. I was always a fan of UK Decca’s various production deals. One such was with Gruggy Woof. The company included both Neil Slaven and David Hitchcock. Slaven’s production’s seemed to lean more towards the bluesy side (Savoy Brown, Miller Anderson, The Keef Hartley Band, Chicken Shack) whereas Hitchcock tipped more progressive (Caravan, Camel, Cured Air, Genesis). By the way, I don’t have a clue where that rather bad name originated from, but I liked most of the records these guys/their production company were involed with.

For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what single I had in my hands literally earlier that very day, with it’s unlikely David Hitchcock production credit. Given that Howard mastered a slew of these during his apprentice years at Trident, we racked our collective brains to no result.

Well tonight I suddenly remembered: Mellow Candle. Their sole album is insanely valuable, and this single is not far behind. Quite why I’m not sure. I always thought ‘Dan The Wing’ was rather watered down Steeleye Span, sonically more in line with what B & C were releasing: folky prog stuff.

Look deeply into the Decca/Deram release history and you will find many an obscure, highly collectable and hence, steeply priced prog rock array of every flavor. I picked this up for pennies in the dj copy heavy outdoor vendor racks at Cheap Cheap on Soho’s Rupert Street during that summer ’73 spent in London. In fact, this copy sat there unsold for literally months until finally having been humiliatingly relegated to the 5p row – I just couldn’t pass up the Deram A label – I mean seriously, 5p?

At first it indeed sounded lightweight and weedy, but I eventually got addicted to it’s weaknesses. They are charmingly innocent, now I play it often.

The Incredible String Band

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

incrediblethismoment, The Incredible String Band, Elektra

Listen: This Moment / The Incredible String Band IncredibleMoment.mp3

incredibleblackjack, The Incredible String Band, Elektra, The Gun Club, Steeleye Span, The White Stripes

Listen: Black Jack Davy / The Incredible String Band IncredibleBlackJack.mp3

Acquired taste. Okay, I agree. During the late 70′s folk boom and the accompanying blind acceptance of, I didn’t know what to make of some of these acts. I don’t think anybody did. The Incredible String Band were English so I put the time in to find some positives. I mean everyone needed a few essential folk genre bits for the collection. And they did have some happening album covers. Seems they released several in very short order – so many that I never ended up buying one out of confusion. Then I LOOKED UP came out and started to get a few plays on the local college station, Syracuse University’s WAER. I took the plunge and bought. My two, by far, favorite tracks (‘This Moment’ and ‘Black Jack Davy’) were A and B sides in the UK. How handy.

Shortly thereafter, the SU Concert Committee booked them into a weird part chapel/part venue joint on campus. It was usually reserved for jazz events, don’t remember the name, but I did see The Soft Machine there. Most likely, they could be considdered jazz if you stretched it – and I’m glad they did – wow, great show.

Anyways, The Incredible String Band were spectacular. Featured the expanded (Mike and Robin plus girlfriends Rose and Licorice) lineup from I LOOKED UP and the about to be released U. In hindsight, the girlfriends were a bit of a Spinal Tap move sans tambourines. Still, we loved it.

Whoever Black Jack Davy was, many a song has been written about his folklore reputation. This version is not to be confused with other excellent ones of the same title by The Gun Club, Steeleye Span and The White Stripes.

And the above ‘This Moment’ (3:19), to my knowledge, is a 7″ vinyl only version. Every LP and CD contains the full 6:09 minute take.