Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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STEELEYE SPAN

UK folk-rock group. Original lineup: Tim Hart, guitar, dulcimer, vocals; Ashley Hutchings, bass; Maddy Prior and Gay Woods, vocals; Terry Woods, guitar, mandolin, vocals. Hutchings was disappointed with Fairport Convention after Leige And Lief '68; he came together with Hart and Prior (who had worked as a duo) and the Woodses (ex-Sweeney's Men); group's name (suggested by Martin Carthy) after character in trad. song 'Horkston Grange'. Described as a folk supergroup, they became the most commercially successful of their type. The lineup broke up after Hark The Village Wait '70 on RCA without ever having performed live; for Please To See The King on B&C and Ten Man Mop on Pegasus (both '70) Carthy on electric guitar and vocals replaced the Woodses and Peter Knight joined on fiddle. (The Woodses worked as a duo and in the Woods Band, albums on Polydor and Rockburgh, separately in Auto da F and the Pogues.) Hutchings left, worked in the Albion Band and in theatre (had worked with Steeleye in Keith Dewhurst's play Corunna); a new Steeleye lineup settled as Prior, Hart, Knight, Rick Kemp on bass, Bob Johnson on guitar, later Nigel Pegrum on drums and flute. Albums were Below The Salt '72, Parcel Of Rogues '73, Now We Are Six '74 (incl. rare guest appearance by David Bowie), Commoners Crown '75; Chrysalis funded solo projects while the group released All Around My Hat '75 and Rocket Cottage '76; by the time of Storm Force Ten '77 and Live At Last '78, Carthy and John Kirkpatrick were with them (later worked as duo, on Kirkpatrick's Plain Capers on Free Reed, in trio Brass Monkey). Later Steeleye work incl. Sails Of Silver '80 (still on Chrysalis) was less successful commercially, but they still drew enthusiastic audiences without trading on nostalgia; on Back In Line '86 on Flutterby they were Johnson, Kemp, Knight and Prior, followed by Where Would You Rather Be Tonight? '87 on Sunrise with various others. Compilations Individually And Collectively and Almanack '72--3, Original Masters '77 were succeeded by more representative two-disc Best Of '84 on Chrysalis. Tim Hart released solo album '79; Johnson and Knight did The King Of Elfland's Daughter '77; Maddy Prior's incl. The Silly Sisters '76 (with June Tabor), Woman In The Wings '78 and Changing Winds on Chrysalis; Nyon Folk Festival 1979 on Cat, Hooked On Winning '82 on Plant Life, Going For Glory '83 on Spindrift; A Tapestry Of Carols '87 on Saydisc, Sing Lustily And With Courage '86 and Carols And Capers '91 were all with the Carnival Band, Flesh And Blood '97 on Park as Maddy Prior and Friends in Concert. Tempted And Tried '89 on Chrysalis/Shanachie was a mellow, folky Steeleye set; the classic '70s albums were reissued on BGO '97.