Thursday, 31 May 2018

Steeleye Span - All Around My Hat (1975)

What care I for your goose-feather bed....



Released October 1975

Recorded at Air Studios, London

TRACK LISTING

1. Black Jack Davy
2. Hard Times Of Old England
3. Cadgwith Anthem
4. Sum Waves
5. The Wife of Ushers Well
6. Gamble Gold/Robin Hood
7. All Around My Hat
8. Dance With Me
9. Bachelors Hall                                        

Steeleye Span’s Mike Batt-produced shot at the big time. Trying for a more commercial, chart-friendly style of folk-rock, Batt encouraged them to up the volume on the electric guitars and drums and they certainly do that on some truly excellent tracks - the haunting tale of female unfaithfulness that is Black Jack Davy, the rousing and exhilarating fast fiddle plus electric guitar rock of Hard Times Of Old England and, of course, the only real hit single they ever had (not including the Christmas novelty Gaudete) in the rumbustuous singalong fun of All Around My Hat.

Cadgwith Anthem is a beautiful a Capella, with a lovely brass part at the end, that sees the band returning to their true folk roots, as indeed does the instrumental Sum Waves. The Wife Of Usher's Well is a beautifully melodious (with all vocalists taking roles), but sad tale of a wife who loses all three of her sons, presumably in some overseas conflict. Gamble Gold is pleasant enough, though - harmonious vocals and a great drum sound. Dance With Me is another tuneful romp based, apparently, on a Scandinavian folk song, while Bachelors' Hall has an air of grandiose mystery about it, plus some killer guitar and violin, particularly at the end.

One listen to Maddy Prior’s voice soaring along with the band as the rock kicks in on Hard Times Of Old England is just such a pleasure. Along with The Wife Of Usher’s Well, with Peter Knight’s stunning violin work, two of the band’s finest moments. Furthermore you still can’t beat Maddy’s vocal on All Around My Hat.

B-

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