Exposé Online banner

Steeleye Span — Dodgy Bastards
(Park PRKCD 148, 2016, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-12-05

Dodgy Bastards Cover art

Writing about Offa Rex’s wonderful new album sparked a renewal of interest in one of my all-time favorite bands, Steeleye Span. Their albums of the 70s stand as stone classics in the genre of British folk-rock (or electric folk if you prefer that label), presenting a wealth of traditional music, both songs and instrumentals, in a way that was both accessible to audiences of the time and superbly performed. More so even than Fairport Convention, who had a much higher proportion of original songs, Steeleye brought a new creative energy to material that had already stood the test of time. Even after their heyday, they continued to release good music, albeit at a slower pace than the sometimes two albums a year they managed in their first decade. I recently discovered that I was several albums behind in their catalog, and quickly rectified the situation. Dodgy Bastards came out in 2016 and is (I think) their 22nd studio album. Present from the old days are Maddy Prior (lead vocals) and Rick Kemp (bass, vocals), joined by some newer faces: Jessie May Smart (violin, vocals), Julian Littman (mandolin, guitar, keyboards, vocals), Spud Sinclair (guitar, vocals), and Liam Genockey (drums). This set of 12 tracks can fit comfortably among the band’s best work, containing some excellent playing all around. Smart’s violin in particular is stellar, refined when that’s called for or devilishly wild when she solos. Some of the tunes rock as hard as anything in their past, blending acoustic and electric sounds expertly, and there are several lengthy story-songs, like “Johnnie Armstrong,” “Cruel Brother,” “Cromwell’s Skull,” and the epic “The Lofty Tall Ship / Shallow Brown.” There’s not a weak link in the whole chain, and I can unreservedly recommend this to both those who love their old material and anyone interested in investigating the intersection of folk music and rock.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Steeleye Span

Latest news

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Hot Tuna - Double Dose – Long unavailable on CD, this full-length live disc (originally a 2LP set) is a superb summary of Hot Tuna's career up to that point; in fact the band split up shortly after the album hit the street in...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues