Sunday, 10 March 2019

Steeleye Span - Cogs, Wheels & Lovers (2009)


Released October 2009

This is another in the series of excellent albums that a revitalised Steeleye Span released in the early 2000s. As always, it sources traditional folk balladry for the background and lyrics of the songs. As with most of the latter-day Steeleye albums, it features a full rock backing.


1. Gallant Frigate Amphitrate
2. Locks and Bolts
3. Creeping Jane
4. Just As The Tide
5. Ranzo
6. The Machiner's Song
7. Our Captain Cried
8. Two Constant Lovers
9. Madam Will You Walk
10. The Unquiet Grave
11. Thornaby Woods
12. The Great Silkie Of Sule Skerry

"Gallant Frigate Amphitrate" starts the album with a huge thumping rock rhythm. It is a historical seafaring song with a typically atmospheric, confident vocal from Maddy Prior. Another evocative vocal leads the melodic "Locks And Bolts". Peter Knight's violin and Rick Kemp's subtly strong bass are impressive on here. "Creeping Jane" is a lively, rousing number about a racehorse. It utilises that rock beat that the group used on "All Around My Hat" and "Hard Times Of Old England" (and also on some Wombles singles for which the band were session musicians in the mid-seventies). Again, the violin is excellent. "Just As The Tide" is a catchy, mid-pace piece of folk rock with another lovely vocal. You just can't beat Peter Knight's violin. It enhances every track it appears on.

"Ranzo" is a quirky, handclappy number with Knight joining Prior on vocals over what sounds like a mandolin backing. "The Machiner's Song" is a lively, folky number that grinds to a halt, like a machine, at the end. "Our Captain Cried" utilises the John Wesley hymn melody from "He Who Would Valiant Be" that they used on 1976's "Fighting For Strangers". It is a moving song. As indeed is "Two Constant Lovers", which features Peter Knight's tender, plaintive voice. It is a tragic song about a young man drowning.

"Madam Will You Walk" features some rhythmic, pounding drums and an infectiously catchy vocal from Prior. "The Unquiet Grave" is a haunting song with the violin again playing a big part. "Thornaby Woods" is a gentle folk number with another fine vocal. After it comes a "hidden track" called "The Great Silkie Of Sule Skerry", which is a traditional folk song from Shetland and Orkney. It is, as you would expect, very Celtic-sounding, featuring violin and vocal only.

This is an eminently listenable album. I slightly prefer 2006's excellent "Bloody Men", but this certainly worth one's time.


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