Steeleye Span

Below the Salt - Chrysalis 1972

Tracks: 1. Spotted Cow / 2. Rose Bud In June / 3. Jigs: The Bride's Favorite, Tansey's Fancy / 4. Sheep-Crook And Black Dog / 5. Royal Forester / 6. King Henry / 7. Gaudete / 8. John Barleycorn / 9. Saucy Sailor


"Below the Salt" was Steeleye Spanís fourth album, but probably the first where the sound that gave the band their greatest successes is predominant. Producer of the first albums Sandy Robertson has been replaced by Jerry Boys, and the two founder-members Ashley Hutchings, Martin Carthy are replaced by Rick Kemp and Bob Johnson. Later also the drummer Nigel Pegrum was added to the band and it was this 6 man line-up which with the album and the single "All Around my Hat" achieved the greatest commercial successes..

On "Below the Salt", the group has found eight old songs and given them a new and different life. Most surprising is the fact that the group actually achieved a single hit with the old Roman church-song "Gaudete".

Otherwise it is old English folk songs which in addition to the acoustic instruments mandolin, fiddle and banjo also have been added electric bass and electric guitar.

Vocally it is obviously Maddy Prior who is fronting the band, but all members beautifully take a part in the vocals and a couple of numbers are purely a capella.

It may now be difficult to understand that the group, along with Fairport Convention, actually were the leading force in folk-rock, and that this kind of music was attective to a vast audience. Today, this genre is probably only a niche, and this album may also seem somewhat dated.

Besides the fine "Gaudete", I think still enjoy "Saucy Sailor" very much , the song oozes atmosphere. It not that the rest of the album is uninteresting, quite the contrary, it's probably more about that part of the magic of the folk-rock is gone.

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