STEELEYE SPAN – Cogs, Wheels And Lovers (Park Records PRKCD106)

A welcome return to one of England’s finest folk-rock band’s bringing with them those glorious riffs that have become so much a part of their distinctive sound. The UK is blessed in having a fine tradition of song bearers and whilst we have artists such as Steeleye Span and the fluid vocals of Maddy Prior to bring these ancient ballads dramatically to life we can all rest easy in our beds. Opening with the robust tale of “The Gallant Frigate Amphitrite” and it’s tribulations ‘rounding the Horn’ you’ll no doubt be rooting for the crew mastering the even more treacherous waters of the girls they left behind. On the second track I’ve a ‘nagging’ feeling that some of you reading this review will already be aware of the tale of “Creeping Jane” and that I’d better ‘rein’ in the puns before Maddy becomes too ‘horse’. Performed in a style not dissimilar to the band’s previous hit “Hard Times Of Old England” with it’s galloping jig beat courtesy of Liam Genocky and Peter Knight’s duelling violins it’s left to the driving bass of Rick Kemp and axe-man Ken Nicol to get us past the finishing post. Re-visiting the song “Fighting For Strangers” (from their Rocket Cottage album) the inspired ‘strings’ arrangement of “Our Captain Cried” shows that the band has lost none of its freshness in reinventing the wheel on an album that is littered with gems and although they may be in a more subtle, contemplative mood this is as good as anything that’s gone before.


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