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STEELEYE SPAN - Live At De Montfort Hall, Leicester, 1977 

STEELEYE SPAN - Live At De Montfort Hall, Leicester, 1977 
Store For Music SJPCD601 

Dating from the short-lived (77-78) line-up that includes Martin Carthy in his second stint within the band and John Kirkpatrick bringing accordion into the band for the first time, this is a recording originally captured for radio broadcast, and available here for the first time. However, four of the numbers are also in the set of 1978’s Live At Last.

The quality of recording is to be commended, when considering that it is an archived performance from over 40 years ago. It is clear that Martin Carthy was not in his most comfortable place on electric guitar – but he is on his best acoustic form on Walter Bulwer’s Polka and Seventeen Come Sunday (ably assisted by the aforementioned Kirkpatrick and Tim Hart on electric guitar). Maddy Prior is also steadfast throughout. Rick Kemp’s bass is understated (and low in the mix) but blends well with Nigel Pegrum on drums.

When the band properly gets into its stride, this is material that can be classified as some of the finest live records available of the band – for example on Cam Ye O’er Frae France. The cod Buddy Holly Rave On encore, by contrast, doesn’t do much for me, I’m afraid.

Although this is supposed to be an album in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the band, there is no real evidence that it is authorised by Steeleye Span themselves, and their own website has no mention of it. However, Span completists will queue up for this, particularly as it is a rare line-up captured in their prime.

Grem Devlin


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine