Steeleye Span

Commoners Crown

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From the opening bars of "Little Sir Hugh" -- an extraordinarily brisk and upbeat sounding treatment of an incredibly grim song -- the band playing on Commoner's Crown scarcely sounds like the same group on Now We Are Six or Parcel of Rogues. Now a full-fledged rock group, competing with the likes of Jethro Tull and pumping out higher amperage than Fairport Convention, Steeleye engages in heavy riffing, savage attacks on their instruments, and generally kicks out the jams on this album. But they're also fairly clever, interweaving Bach with traditional Irish music -- actually, Bach-meets-the-Mooncoin-Jig from their previous record -- on "Bach Goes to Limerick." There's not a bad song here, and even if it is more rock than folk, it's all very substantial and vibrant music-making, and maybe the classic Steeleye Span's most engaging album.

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