News from the Land of the Free. They’ve been unearthing old radio tapes and some bright spark at Omnivore, the US reissue label, has come across a Steeleye Span gig from New York’s Bottom Line club in late 1974. Thankfully it’s a sparkling performance from Maddy and the classic line up – you know Prior, Hart, Knight, Johnson, Kemp and new recruit Pegrum – Nigel, drummer. Afficianados should note there are lots of tracks appearing here for the first time, some of them never made it onto official albums. Generally issued without much in the way of consultation, at least Omnivore made sure this set has been run by the Steeleye fan site and it appears tickety boo. Herewith we present the excitable American publibcity blurb – spot the mistakes!
“Previously unissued performance from the iconic British folk-rock band recorded live at New York’s legendary Bottom Line.Fairport Convention co-founder and bassist Ashley Hutchings and legendary singer, Sandy Denny parted ways with the group after their classic ‘Liege And Leaf’ album. Hutchings recruited Tim Hart and Maddy Prior (an established folk duo) and Terry and Gay Woods, naming their new band after a character in the traditional song “Horkstow Grange.” While their line-up fluctuated (Terry Woods would leave and later become the bassist in the classic Pogues line-up a decade later), the band solidified and continues to this day.
Staying true to their folk roots, the band found themselves not only supporting Jethro Tull on tour, but signing to Chrysalis Records. Their breakthrough sixth album released in 1974, ‘Now We Are Six,’ referring to both number of album releases and band members, (with a cameo from David Bowie on saxophone!) That release included the track ‘Thomas The Rhymer,’ which has become a Steeleye concert staple.
On their fourth tour of the US, Steeleye Span played New York’s fabled Bottom Line in July of 1974, showcasing not only material from their new and previous albums, but adding the classic jig and reel medleys the band had become known for in performance. The 74-minute set includes their #14 UK hit ‘Gaudete,’ the classic ‘John Barleycorn,’ and much more. Many of the US tour dates were headlining shows, they garnered good press and some were broadcast on local FM radio, including the Bottom Line show which was carried on WNYU-FM.
‘Live At The Bottom Line, 1974’ documents what may have been Steeleye Span’s longest and most successful tour of the US, and we’re lucky that on this New York City night, the tapes were rolling to capture this fantastic ever-evolving live band. Slàinte mhath!”
IRISH JIGS (INCLUDING PADDY CLANCY’S)
SONG INTRODUCTION TO “CAM YE O’ER FRAE FRANCE”
CAM YE O’ER FRAE FRANCE
SONG INTRODUCTION TO “JOHN BARLEYCORN”
SONG INTRODUCTION TO “LITTLE SIR HUGH”
LITTLE SIR HUGH
SONG INTRODUCTION “TWO MAGICIANS”
ROBBERY WITH VIOLINS/KITTY COME DOWN FROM LIMERICK/O’ROURKE’S REEL
SUMMER IS A COMIN’ IN
STAINES MORRIS/IN PEASCOD TIME
ONE MISTY MOISTY MORNING
THOMAS THE RHYMER
THE MUSICAL PRIEST/THE SILVER SPEAR/THE HIGH REEL
NAUTICAL MEDLEY: HEARTS OF OAK/A LIFE ON THE OCEAN WAVE/RULE BRITANNIA
THE MASON’S APRON
All tracks previously unissued. Deatils and preorder at roughtrade.com
However there is another Steeleye live gig this time from 1973 being offered on digital platforms which comes with a red flag. Recorded in April 1973 at Sigma Sound, Philadelphia it’s been available for ages as a bootleg and the track listing proves the fact as I have a copy next to me as I type these deathless words. Okay, this is the line up before Nigel Pegrum joined, that which cut ‘Below The Salt’ and ‘Parcel Of Rogues,’ so it might pique your interest but it’s the quality of the sound here which sadly remains that of a bootleg. The clever ones amongst you will have twigged the title ‘Traitors Wages’ comes from the title song of ‘Parcel Of Rogues.’ Find it on Apple, Spotify and other download sites.
Track Listing.Ups & Downs, Oak Tree/Pigeon On the Gate, Weaver and the Factory Maid, Spotted Cow, Saucy Sailor, Poetry Reading, Bank Of Ireland/Lucy Campbell/Duffy the Dancer, Cam Ye O’er Frae France, Gaudete, Royal Forester, Truck Driving Man, Reels.