Steeleye Span

Rocket Cottage

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The second of Steeleye Span's Mike Batt-produced albums was released at a time (1976) when the acceptance of British folk-rock was on a rapid downhill slide. That was unfortunate because Rocket Cottage remains one of the strongest yet most unappreciated of Steeleye's catalog. Their knack for adapting English folk songs to rock & roll has never been more adeptly executed than on this record. Rob Johnson's electric guitar work became more consistently aggressive as did Nigel Pegrum's drumming and Rick Kemp's bass playing. Tracks like "The Brown Girl," "The Twelve Witches," and the instrumental "Sligo Maid" are indicative of this more muscular Batt treatment. While several tracks from Steeleye Span's past repertoire are frequently labeled as definitive (like "Alison Gross" and "All Around My Hat") when describing their unique style of folk-rock, none surpasses the anthemic "Sir James the Rose." It combines their trademark macabre lyrical content with a forceful rock arrangement, innocent sounding vocal harmonies, and a timely Peter Knight violin interlude to remind the listener that this song actually has traditional roots. So while this album was greeted with overwhelming indifference in 1976, it has stood the test of time as well as any "classic" '70s album.

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