Now with their 50th anniversary fast approaching, the band have come close to matching that work rate - readying themselves for the release of ‘Dodgy Bastards’, their eighth album in twelve years.
Such inspiration has come both from the individuals involved, Steeleye mainstays Maddy Prior, Rick Kemp and Liam Genockey alongside Jessie May Smart, Andrew Sinclair and Julian Littman in the current line-up, as well as the captivating source material – the work of 19th century scholar Francis James Child and his collection of English and Scottish Ballads.
The album is appropriately titled, containing stories of murder, religion, incest, skulls, honour killings and tormented spirits - the perfect subject material for Steeleye Span's dark take on the music of the British Isles.
Such epic tales require a suitable musical backdrop and the record is firmly in the band's classic musical mould. 'Brown Robyn's Confession' sets the tone but with a new twist, violinist Jessie May Smart taking the lead vocal before the distinct tones of Maddy Prior join her on the striking chorus. Elsewhere each member plays their part, allowing the music to explore a variety of different paths as the songs ebb and flow in keeping with their characters and events - with Prior and Littman even adding a spoken word/rap element to long time band favourite 'Boys Of Bedlam'.
Julian Littman of Steeleye Span says, “on our last album, Wintersmith, we set the writings of the late Sir Terry Pratchett but Dodgy Bastards sees us returning to the folk tales and characters that have always been at the heart of the Steeleye sound. We’re hugely excited to get the album out there, and to embark on our 2017 UK”.
Steeleye Span plays Newcastle City Hall on Tue 5 Dec 2017 Tickets are £32.00 and can be purchased at www.theatreroyal.co.uk or from the Theatre Royal Box office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge).