Parcel of Rogues is the group's first real rock album, featuring a sound clearly rooted in modern sensibilities, with the guitars turned up very loud for the first time. The singing is still modeled on traditional patterns, and is quite beautiful (especially "One Misty Moisty Morning" and "Allison Gross"), but the resonances and undertones of electric guitars are everywhere -- the result is a record that, in some ways, recalls Fairport Convention's Liege & Lief (the record that led indirectly to the spawning of Steeleye Span in the first place), with some very flashy playing by Bob Johnson on some of the breaks. The rousing "The Ups and Downs" is played on acoustic instruments, and the atmospheric "The Weaver and the Factory Maid" could have come off of any of the earlier albums, while "The Bold Poachers" is more traditional sounding, starting out on acoustic instruments before the amplified guitars chime in. It sets the tone for the album, as wah-wah pedals punch up instrumentals such as "Robbery with Violins" and "The Wee Wee Man" (which includes drums). A lot of the time it works -- the ominous and dazzling "Cam Ye O'er Frae France" would not have succeeded half as well without amplification, and every fan of the group should hear this track at least once.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder