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Steeleye Span

Ten Man Mop Or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again

Review by Gary Hill

Steeleye Span's third album, this was released in 1971 (and was their second release that year). I think this is proggier than the first two. I'd also consider it stronger and more compelling in a lot of ways. I have landed this, along with the others from SS that I've done, under prog mainly because this band is often included there, and their sound has a lot in common with proto prog. It should be noted that I've used this same review in the box-set review also included in this issue. I really recommend getting this that way, as it's a great way to get three albums at once.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Gower Wassail
I love the complex and intriguing vocal arrangement on this cut. The music has an electric folk prog sound, but it's also understated and rather sparse.
Jigs: Paddy Clancey's Jig/Willie Clancy's Fancy
This instrumental is both traditional and proggy. It's energized and fun.
Four Nights Drunk
Based essentially on fiddle and vocals, this is an entertaining and old-school based Celtic tune. The fiddle gets some cool soloing in later. Then they fire out into a jam that's part Celtic and part bluegrass as other instruments join in the instrumental section.
When I Was on Horseback
While there is definitely psychedelia and folk rock at play here, there is still plenty of traditional Celtic music at the heart of this number. This is dramatic and powerful. It's one of my favorites of the set. There is so much emotion packed into it. The instrumental section later gets into some rather droning prog territory that is very cool.
Marrowbones
A bouncy kind of Celtic arrangement opens this number. It moves outward from there in fine fashion.
Captain Coulston
I like the folk turned vaguely psychedelic vibe of this number. It's a mellower one, but also a very cool song. As the arrangement fills out later the prog tendencies rise upward. I love the violin on this piece.
Reels: Dowd's Favourite/£10 Float/The Morning Dew
This instrumental is energized and a lot of fun. As you might guess, it's packed full of Celtic textures, but it manages to rock, too.
Wee Weaver
A fiddle and vocal based number, this is classy stuff.
Skewball
Energetic Celtic elements create the opening movement. After the one-minute mark electric guitar joins welding the prog elements to the arrangement. The cut continues with a great merging of those two sounds.

 

 
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