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

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Electropolis - Electropolis – A quartet of bass, percussion, electrosax, and electrumpet, Electropolis produces eleven tracks of interesting jazzy rock on what I believe is their debut. The amplified instruments produce some odd...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues