A British group that repackaged traditional songs in a sort of classic rock style.

"Repackaged" is perhaps an overly harsh term; Steeleye Span was musically very sound and their folk-rock sound is unique-sounding, though it does have a dated feel now. I really like it.

Plus, anybody that does a version of Thomas the Rhymer with an electric guitar gets a thumbs-up in my book. They're a very Bordertown-ish band, much like Shoolglenifty in that they blend the traditional and the modern.

Other than that blending, though, the two bands are almost nothing alike.

They were formed in 1969, the original members being Maddy Prior lead vocals, Tim Hart, Ashley Hutchings (from Fairport Convention), Gay Woods, and Terry Woods. The band folded when the Woods left after the first album, and re-formed when Martin Carthy was brought in. He didn't stay long, and from 1972 they had the classic line-up of Prior, Hart, Nigel Pegrum, Bob Johnson, Rick Kemp, and Peter Knight.

This continued until Sails of Silver, which was quite a departure in sound for them, and since then the line-up has varied and the albums have been less common. Carthy and Gay Woods have rejoined, and Maddy Prior finally left in 1997. The Journey is a recording of a 1996 concert that featured all the line-ups.

Their albums were

  1. Hark! the Village Wait (1970)
  2. Please to See the King (1971)
  3. Ten Man Mop or Mr Reservoir Butler Rides Again (1972)
  4. Below the Salt (1972)
  5. Parcel of Rogues (1973)
  6. Now We Are Six (1974)
  7. Commoner's Crown (1975)
  8. All Around My Hat (1975)
  9. Rocket Cottage (1976)
  10. Storm Force Ten (1977)
  11. Live at Last! (1978)
  12. Sails of Silver (1980)
  13. Back in Line (1986)
  14. Tempted and Tried (1989)
  15. The Collection (1994)
  16. TimeSpan (1996)
  17. Horkstow Grange (1998)
  18. The Journey (1999)
  19. Bedlam Born (2000)
Among the best songs are, and this is a personal favourites list more than a list of chart hits, Gaudete, Black Jack Davy, Long Lankin, False Knight on the Road, Gamble Gold (Robin Hood), Gone to America, Thomas the Rhymer, Cam Ye O'er Frae France, and The Wife of Usher's Well.

The name comes from a Lincolnshire character John "Steeleye" Span, mentioned in the ballad "Horkstow Grange".

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