Friday, February 26, 2010

Steeleye Span - Bloody Men (England 2006) @320

Bloody Men is the 20th studio album by the British electric folk band Steeleye Span.

This album represents a continuation of the band's recent surge of activity. In 2002, the band was in a state of near collapse, since three members of its line-up at the time, Tim Harries, Gay Woods, and Bob Johnson, had all departed, leaving long-time member Peter Knight and recently-returned member Rick Kemp as the only remaining members. That same year, Knight persuaded former members Maddy Prior and Liam Genockey to return and coaxed Johnson out of retirement to record the album Present--The Very Best of Steeleye Span. Ken Nicol came on board to replace Johnson, and the band has been relatively active since then, releasing two albums, They Called Her Babylon and Winter in 2004, and 'Bloody Men' late in 2006, as well as touring extensively.

During its heyday in the 1970s, Steeleye almost exclusively recorded their arrangements of traditional songs, with occasional forays into versions of 20th century songs by other artists such as Buddy Holly and Bertold Brecht. But starting in the early 1980s, the band's albums have increasingly focused on a mixture of traditional songs and their own compositions, and 'Bloody Men' continues that trend, albeit with a new twist. The album consists of 2 CDs, the first a mixture of traditional and original pieces. The second CD is the 5-song "Ned Ludd" cycle, written mostly by Kemp, about the 19th century Luddite movement. The band has never attempted a multi-song cycle like this before.

The album opens with the bawdy "Bonny Black Hare", on which Prior sings in a gravelly voice and Knight plays his violin rather like an electric guitar, a successful experiment that goes unrepeated on the album. Other highlights include a hard-rock cover of "Cold Haily Rainy Night", which the band first offered on Please to See the King, the brisk "The 3 Sisters" and the cheerful "Lord Elgin". The notes for "Lord Elgin" say that "this song is not what it seems on the face of it," indicating that it is a riddle-song. A probable solution is at the bottom of the page. The song "Whummil Bore" is about a servant looking through a whummil bore (a hole bored with a gimlet-like tool) and watching a lady getting dressed. The instrumental "First House in Connaught" is a cover of a track from Tempted and Tried, the first time the band has ever covered one of its own instrumental pieces.

The Ned Ludd cycle begins with a song about the enclosure movement in Early Modern England, effectively a pastoral ode to preindustrial England, and then moves on to the plight of the workers who have been displaced by industrialization. The third song is an appeal to the mythical Ned Ludd to destroy the machines and lead the workers in a rebellion. The fourth and fifth songs deal with the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, in which the British cavalry charged into a peaceful crowd of protesters supporting a repeal of the Corn Laws. Neither the Enclosure Movement nor the Corn Laws were directly related to the Luddite Movement, but in the cycle these serve to explore the wider problems of common workers.

01. The Bonny Black Hare (4.39)
02. The Story of the Scullion King (4.41)
03. The Dreamer and the Widow (4.47)
04. Lord Elgin (4.06)
05. The Three Sisters (4.16)
06. The First House in Connaught / The Lady of the House (3.39)
07. Cold Haily Windy Night (4.40)
08. Whummil Bore (4.12)
09. Demon of the Well (5.57)
10. Lord Gregory (5.41)

11. Ned Ludd Part 1 (Inclosure) (2.48)
12. Ned Ludd Part 2 (Rural Retreat) (4.09)
13. Ned Ludd Part 3 (Ned Ludd) (3.18)
14. Ned Ludd Part 4 (Prelude to Peterloo) (2.56)
15. Ned Ludd Part 5 (Peterloo the Day) (2.52)

Maddy Prior: vocals
Peter Knight: violin, “Octave” violin, viola, mandolin, backing vocals
Ken Nicol: vocals, acoustic and electric guitars
Rick Kemp: bass, vocals
Liam Genockey: drums and percussion


CrimsonKing said...

Bloody Men


Park records said...


I'd like to tell you about the new double album from Steeleye Span "Now We Are Six Again" Disc one contains the complete live reading of the original album alongside a second collection of classics, rarities and audience favourites. It finds Steeleye Span doing what they have always done, moving forward by engaging with the past. With a new energy and influx of ideas, this most incredible of stories has just entered yet another chapter.

The band are currently show casing this on a UK tour

The album is available on

I'd also like to introduce you to Moonshee our exciting new Folk Act. They released their debut album last month which has already recieved some great reviews an example which can be found below.

MOONSHEE – Moonshee (Park Records PRKCD114)
I suppose the mark of any good CD is when you can play it to your mates (even those not remotely interested in ‘folk’) whilst grooving like an ‘acoustic’ version of Bill & Ted in the car and you can play it loud (if you’re so inclined) without offending passers-by. OK, so the mix of Indian and British folk cultures has been attempted before (most recently by Michael McGoldrick) but to get the balance right commercially is like walking a tight-rope. Bearing in mind that fellow Park Records artists Steeleye Span have already proved that through hard work and determination there is plenty of scope to reach the ultimate goal of a commercial recording that has its sights set on capturing the Radio Nation and with a helping hand from the right people…Mike Harding, Aled Jones and Jools Holland etc this group could well succeed. Utilising the tried and tested “Fair And Tender Maidens”, “The Water Is Wide” and “Concertina Reel” (here titled Cortina Reel Mk II for some reason) the group are no slouches musically speaking and by adding tuneful decoration including Benji Kirkpatrick, John Spiers and Rosie Doonan ‘Moonshee’ will have done themselves no harm in the ‘folk’ communities eyes. One slight criticism is that although all the vocalists are credited, it doesn’t state who the lead singer is on each track. In conclusion, I for one am keeping my fingers crossed that the band does really well commercially and perhaps, with John Dagnell and everyone at Park on board Moonshee have more than a fighting chance. Great debut!


xij64 said...

Many thanks

CrimsonKing said...


Bloody Men


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